Research Expectations


BCB students are trained to develop an independent and creative approach to science through an integrated curriculum and interdisciplinary research projects in the fields of bioinformatics, computational biology, and biological statistics.

Advanced degrees in BCB require that a student's research project be interdisciplinary, including both novel biological and quantitative/computational components. The POS committee is responsible for determining whether a student's research project meets this condition.

According to the Graduate College Handbook: "A doctoral dissertation must demonstrate conclusively the ability of the author to conceive, design, conduct, and interpret independent, original, and creative research. It must attempt to describe significant original contributions to the advancement of knowledge and must demonstrate the ability to organize, analyze, and interpret data. In most instances, a dissertation includes a statement of purpose, a review of pertinent literature, a presentation of methodology and results obtained, and a critical interpretation of conclusions in relation to the findings of others. When appropriate, it involves a defense of objectives, design, and analytical procedures. Dissertation research should be worthy of publication and should appear in appropriate professional journals or in book form.

"Since satisfactory completion of the thesis or dissertation can constitute one of the most gratifying experiences in graduate study, the document should reflect the highest standards of scholarship, serving as a measure of quality for the student, major professor, the program, and Iowa State University.

"Responsibility for writing and editing of the thesis or dissertation rests with the student, under the supervision of the major professor, and not with the Graduate College. The Graduate College does not permit joint authorship of theses or dissertations. It is the responsibility of the major professor to supervise the preparation of preliminary and final drafts of the thesis or dissertation, so as to assure the highest level of quality when the student presents the thesis or dissertation to the committee for final approval."

Links to some important sites on the Graduate College website can be found here dealing with thesis requirements and graduation forms and deadlines. In BCB, the Ph.D. thesis is generally written in an alternate journal format which includes approximately three published or publishable original manuscripts. For additional details, see Writing the Thesis in the Progressing Through the Degree Program.

The Ph.D. and M.S. degrees are usually completed in five and two years, respectively.