Senior Capstone Experience

There are two parts of the required senior capstone experience:

  1. Complete a senior capstone course during the last 2 semesters prior to graduation
  2. Attend research seminars & turn in 3 abstracts


Students may fulfill the capstone course requirement by completing a senior thesis (BE499), completing a research block that requires a substantial written research report with literature background (e.g. BE409, if the supervising faculty member requires that the student meet the capstone course description and the department approves a petition - find petition form online) or successfully completing a designated capstone course that draws upon a body of knowledge, perspectives, and experiences developed over the entire course of the OBE major (see above for a list of approved capstone courses). A capstone experience must be integrative across more than one level of biological organization, e.g. genome-metabolism-organism, genome-organism-evolution, or genome-physiology. Moreover, a capstone course must include at least two of the following elements: a critique of primary literature; a seminar-style discussion of primary literature; a written proposal, oral presentation, or paper that requires synthetic thinking; substantive opportunities designed to broaden student understanding of inquiry and research methods in OBE. A course may only fulfill the capstone requirement if taken during the last two semesters before graduating; the intent is for students to bring to a given course the full complement of their biology education at Colorado College.

Following completion of a senior capstone course, students will be able to …

  • Critique primary literature, providing theoretical context for the literature discussed
  • Analyze a body of research including primary literature, explain application and relevance of the findings, and describe potential future directions of the research topic
  • Select appropriate primary literature papers relevant for a research project, seminar, or research proposal
  • Organize information from multiple sources (primary literature, review articles, original research) into a cohesive oral presentation or written report or proposal. Presentations or reports may be of any length (as decided by the supervising faculty) but should provide evidence of synthesis of information across levels of biological organization

If you have questions concerning these requirements, see your academic advisor in the OBE Department.


Majors must submit satisfactory abstracts from 3 OBE-approved seminars. Attend acceptable seminars (see below), summarize, and email each abstract to both Donna Sison ( and your advisor by the first day of the block following the seminar. Abstracts submitted after this day will generally not be accepted. You must declare an OBE major and be a junior or senior before abstracts can count. Declared majors receive e-mail notices of OBE seminars, which are also on the departmental web page.


-OBE Department seminars, including the keynote address at OBE Day;

-Biology seminars at UCCS, CU, CSU, DU, CU medical school, and Penrose or Memorial Hospitals;

-Selected seminars from other science departments at CC. In your abstract clearly link the seminar to OBE.

Ask your academic advisor before you attend non-OBE seminars.

-Not eligible: student presentations, including OBE Day talks.


-Limited to one printed page.

- See Appendix III of major's handbook for an example. Each abstract must be clear, concise, well-written, and complete to be accepted by your advisor and the department.

-Follow the spirit of the CC Honor Code; this obviously includes attending the seminar and writing the abstract in your own words.

Report an issue - Last updated: 12/17/2020