Tag Archives: biology


Developing a molecular diagnostic test. The student could work to develop a new molecular diagnostic test for detecting a disease. This would involve researching the disease pathogenesis and biomarkers, designing primers and probes for PCR or another detection method, optimizing the reaction conditions in the lab, and performing extensive testing/validation of the assay on clinical samples. Assessment of the assay’s accuracy, precision, reproducibility and sensitivity/specificity would need to be conducted. A full report outlining the development process, validation results and discussing the clinical utility of the new test would be required.

Estimated length of project: 6-12 months. Requires access to a molecular biology lab and clinical samples.

Investigating environmental impacts on biodiversity. The student could design and conduct a field research project to study how certain environmental factors like pollution, habitat destruction, climate change or invasive species are affecting biodiversity in an ecosystem. This would involve developing a research proposal with clear hypotheses and objectives. Fieldwork would involve collecting data on species richness, abundance and diversity. Statistical analysis would then be used to look for correlations between biodiversity metrics and the environmental variables. Reports would discuss the findings, ecological implications, and make recommendations.

Estimated length: 6-9 months. Requires access to field sites and guidance from an ecologist.

Antibiotic resistance gene screening in pathogen populations. The student cultures bacterial pathogens from clinical samples and analyses them for the presence and variability of antibiotic resistance genes. Genomic DNA is extracted and sequenced. Bioinformatic tools are used to identify and analyze resistance genes present. Minimum inhibitory concentration assays determine phenotypic resistance profiles. Population dynamics of resistance genes over time and space can be investigated. Reports discuss clinical and public health implications.

Estimated length: 6-12 months. Requires pathogen culture and molecular biology lab access/resources.

Analyzing transgenic crop performance. The student grows different varieties of a transgenic crop side-by-side with its conventional counterpart under both controlled and field conditions. Comparisons are made for traits like yield, growth rate, resistance to pests/diseases. Economic analysis estimates profitability. Environmental impacts are modeled. Reports discuss agricultural and regulatory implications, addressing both benefits and risks of the technology.

Estimated length: 6-9 months. Requires greenhouse/field facilities and collaboration with an agricultural research group.

Investigating antimicrobial activities of ethnobotanical plant extracts. The student collects plant species used in traditional medicine and performs experiments to identify any with interesting antimicrobial properties. Extracts are tested in disc diffusion and minimum inhibitory concentration assays against a panel of human pathogens. The most potent extracts undergo bioactivity-guided fractionation to isolate/identify the active compounds. Their novel mechanisms of action are investigated.

Estimated length: 12 months. Requires lab access and botanical/microbiology expertise.

Assessing impacts of pollution on fish health. The student collects fish from reference sites and sites downstream of a pollution source, like an industrial discharge. Blood and tissue samples are analyzed clinically and histopathologically for biomarkers of pollution stress, like metal accumulation, organ pathologies and genotoxicity. Population-level impacts are characterized by examining fecundity, growth rates, deformities and mortality. Biomonitoring assessments provide valuable ecological and public health information.

Estimated length: 9-12 months. Requires fieldwork expertise and access to analytical lab facilities.

Capstone biology projects offer students opportunities to conduct authentic research addressing important scientific questions or real-world issues. By independently planning and executing a substantial investigation over 6-12 months, students integrate their classroom learning with hands-on experiences that improve their analytical, technical and communication skills. The examples given here cover molecular to ecosystem scales and showcase the diversity of research pathways within the discipline of biology.


The topic selection process for a biology capstone project is an important step that requires careful thought and consideration. The goal of a capstone project is to demonstrate your skills and knowledge gained throughout your studies in biology. Therefore, it is crucial to select a topic that interests you and allows you to showcase your abilities.

Some initial steps in the topic selection include brainstorming potential topics, researching the current state of knowledge, and evaluating feasibility. When brainstorming, think broadly about topics within biology that capture your curiosity or tie into your long term career goals. Make a list of at least 5-10 potential topics to allow for flexibility during the evaluation process. Do not limit yourself initially and let your interests guide the ideas.

After brainstorming, you will need to conduct preliminary research on your potential topics. Search pubmed, scholarly review articles, and biology textbooks to get an overview of what is currently known about each topic area. Make note of any gaps in knowledge that could be further explored through original research or analysis. Evaluating the current literature is crucial to ensure your project adds novel insight and is not duplicative of past work. Access to necessary resources and feasibility should also be considered at this stage.

To further refine your list, meet with your project advisor or professor to get feedback. They can provide guidance on the scope and expectations for a capstone project. Discussing ideas early allows input on feasibility and whether certain topics are too broad or narrow. The advisor acts as a mentor and can suggest modifications to optimize project outcomes. Incorporating their expertise at this stage is valuable for selecting a topic that meets requirements.

With feedback from preliminary research and your advisor, begin formally evaluating each potential topic against a set of selection criteria. Examples of selection criteria include interest level, likelihood of success, significance of findings, fit with your skills/strengths, and availability of required resources. Rate each idea on a scale (ex. 1 to 5) for how well it meets the predefined criteria. This analytical process allows for an objective comparison between ideas to identify strengths and weaknesses.

From your evaluated list, you should now have a clear frontrunner topic that aligns well across selection criteria. It is important to have alternate topics identified as backups in case initial ideas do not pan out after further exploration. The top choices could require additional refinement of the research question, project design, or methodology before finalizing. Meeting again with your advisor to get critical feedback on the top options and proposing modifications as needed.

With approval of your advisor, you have now selected a capstone topic to focus your efforts. Continue exploring background literature on your topic to strengthen your understanding and identify specific gaps your project could help address. Well-developed details on the problem statement, significance, and goals will serve as a foundation for designing and planning your capstone experience. Throughout the selection process, demonstrate your critical thinking by thoroughly evaluating options and incorporating necessary feedback to end with an achievable topic suited to your abilities and program goals. Selecting a well-suited capstone topic through a methodical process sets the stage for a successful senior demonstration of your biological knowledge and skills.

Developing an effective process for selecting your capstone topic including extensive brainstorming, preliminary research, advisor guidance, analytical evaluation techniques, and iterative refinement allows you to end with a choice well matched to your interests and abilities. With a well-designed topic selection phase and openness to feedback, you are positioned for a capstone experience that truly showcases your expertise and makes a meaningful contribution to the field of biology. Spending the necessary time up front to thoroughly explore options and arrive at an optimal topic supported by your advisor ensures your final project fulfills the expectations of a quality capstone experience.


The hidden island of Ninjart is home to a mysterious race of people known as the Ninjartists. For centuries, the exact nature of their biology has eluded scientists and scholars from the outside world. In recent years some key facts have been uncovered through covert observation and limited contact with these secretive people.

The Ninjartists are humanoid in overall form, with a basic physiology similar to Homo sapiens. Certain distinctive features set them apart physically. Ninjartists tend to be smaller in stature than average humans, with a lean, compact muscular build suited for agility, speed and climbing. Their skin is pale white from rarely being exposed to sunlight on their forested home island. Perhaps the most notable physical trait is an extra set of cartilage-tipped tendons running the length of their forearms. This biological quirk allows the Ninjartists to rapidly flex and extend their wrists, hands and fingers with blinding speed – a key evolutionary adaptation for their arts of stealth and combat.

Investigation into Ninjartist genetics has revealed some intriguing findings. Their DNA shows both human and unknown ancient hominin ancestry, suggesting interbreeding with archaic species in the deep past. One hypothesis is that their remote island was once inhabited by an undiscovered branch of Homo erectus or similar hominid. Intermixing with the original human settlers of Ninjart would explain the Ninjartists’ mosaic of distinctly human and more primitive physical traits. Analysis of mitochondrial DNA places their divergence from other human populations at over 30,000 years ago, implying extremely long-term isolation on their island home.

Physiologically, Ninjartists have a number of specialized adaptations for surviving and thriving in their challenging island environment. They possess an incredible capacity for breathing control, able to drastically slow their respiratory and heart rates at will. This allows heightened awareness and covert movement. Ninjartist bone and muscle structure is optimized for climbing, jumping, and absorbing impact with agility comparable to the most athletic humans. Their cardiovascular fitness far surpasses even elite athletes, with amazing stamina and recovery.

The senses of Ninjartists are also finely honed through selection and training. Their vision is superbly sensitive to low light, while their hearing can detect sounds inaudible to humans. An enhanced sense of balance and proprioception aids precarious movements. Perhaps most notably, Ninjartists seem to possess a sixth sense akin to a prey animal’s perception of predators. They demonstrate an uncanny awareness of being watched or followed, even without visual or auditory cues.

On the cognitive and behavioural levels, Ninjartists show both human-like and more primitive traits. Their language, culture, tool-use and social organization clearly place them within the human branch of the hominin family tree. Feral or isolated individuals occasionally observed have reverted to a more solitary, vigilant and territorial lifestyle resembling our early hominin ancestors. Lab studies on captive Ninjartists indicate some cognitive differences such as enhanced spatial reasoning abilities and superb short-term eidetic memory likely linked to their craft.

The amalgam of unusually specialized biological adaptations and partially archaic ancestry make the Ninjartists one of the most remarkable extant examples of human evolution. While superficially appearing human, closer examination shows they retain subtle signs of their earlier hominin heritage melded with uniquely beneficial mutations. Through natural selection and cultural traditions, the people of Ninjart have sculpted themselves into the pinnacle of stealth, agility and awareness – defying comparison to any other human population on Earth. Their long isolation has granted a rare glimpse into the possibilities of the deep past within our own species. Though their secrets remain largely hidden, each new discovery only heightens the mystery and allure of this singular race of biological ninjas.