Graduation with Distinction in Biology

Students who demonstrate excellence in their Biology coursework and who complete and successfully report on a significant research project will be awarded Distinction in Biology.

general information

By March 1 of each academic year, the Biology Department will invite seniors who have distinguished themselves through their Biology Major coursework to apply for distinction. This invitation will be sent to all seniors whose coursework in the Biology Major (including one year of Chemistry or CH/BI) places them in the top 15% of their class. Only students who have completed a significant research project in a Biological Field (as defined as Life Sciences by the Goldwater Scholarship Committee), typically a summer research program (does not have to be at St. Olaf), a Directed Undergraduate Research 1.00 credit course (BIO 396), or a 300-level Independent Research course (BIO 398), are eligible to complete the application.

distinction information for spring 2022

Applications must be emailed to Kathie Towler, Biology AAA, by March 18, 2022.  An application includes the following:

  1. The primary Biological Field that describes the research
  2. A brief statement that describes the underlying biology or biological phenomenon that the research addresses
  3. An abstract of the student’s research project written for a general biology audience
  4. A statement that outlines the student’s role in the research project. This statement should include a description of the student’s role in the conception of the project and identification of the experiments performed. The statement should also include a description of the student’s role in the data collection and how they collaborated with the research mentor and other members of the research group or research community.

If the application is approved by the Biology faculty, the student will be notified of their candidacy for distinction by March 25 with details and next steps. All distinction candidates are expected to give a public presentation to the Biology Department on their research. This public presentation is typically a Biology Distinction Poster session in April.

After the public presentation, the Biology Faculty will deliberate. Students will be notified about the awarding of distinction in early May.

Questions can be directed to the Biology Department Chair.