The Senior Seminar is required as the capstone experience and consists of:
- participation in the four-credit course, Senior Seminar (Biology 489),
- the production of a thesis-driven, analytical paper during the senior year, written through multiple drafts, which includes a thorough review of the literature; and
- the delivery of an oral presentation to the department or at an approved undergraduate or professional research conference during the senior year.
A primary goal of this requirement is for students to be able to demonstrate to themselves the high quality work that can be achieved when a writing project is conducted over a period of several months with considerable feedback and time for reflection. The papers are expected to be very well documented and of very high quality. The presentations are given to the entire department, with most of the audience consisting of students enrolled in Spring Biology classes. Thus, new majors, as well as students considering majoring in Biology, get to see what the type of work done by the graduating seniors.
Students are not expected to start from scratch with their Senior Presentation. It is hoped that each student will have done something as a major on which they can build. For example, this could be an independent project conducted at Macalester or on a study abroad program, an internship, or a paper written for an earlier class. We also encourage inter-or multi-disciplinary oriented papers, such as papers taking a more history of science or philosophy of science approach, assuming the students have a background in the related field.