Biology Department Integrative Exercise

The senior comprehensive project, or “Comps”, is the capstone of every Carleton student’s path through their major. These pages contain the definitive set of requirements and instructions, and should be consulted as questions arise during the course of your comps work. If you have any questions, please contact Professor Rika Anderson, who will be working with seniors on the Biology comps requirement for the year.

This year (2023-2024) we have made some small adjustments to the Biology comps process that are meant to increase transparency, reduce stress, streamline and standardize the process, and provide more structured support. One of the most meaningful changes is to change the order of the question and answer session and the oral presentation. By engaging in a question and answer session with your comps committee first, you will be able to incorporate their feedback into your final presentation and paper revisions.

There are four requirements that must be completed successfully to pass Biology comps:

  1. Submit a Comps Paper (synopsis and bibliography) that addresses the question you’ve chosen from the list provided. This written assignment is due at the end of your first comps term. There are a number of deadlines on your path to submitting your paper. See Step-by-Step Instructions for more detailed information.
  2. Participate in a 30 minute question-and-answer (Q&A) session about your paper with the two members of your faculty comps committee. This takes place in the first half of the second term of your comps.
  3. Give an oral presentation of approximately 15 minutes, based on your answer to the chosen question. When possible, the talks will be scheduled on Mondays and Wednesdays during the 6a time slot, and several students will give talks in succession. The talks present an opportunity to share your research with your peers and mentors and will be open to the public. If you have accommodations through the Accessibility Resources that should be taken into consideration for the oral presentation, please talk to your comps advisor.
  4. Fulfill the seminar requirement by attending 10 research-related talks. This requirement is generally fulfilled by attending the weekly Biology Department visiting speakers series held Monday afternoons from 3:30-4:30 PM. Majors may start attending the visiting speakers seminars during the Spring Term of sophomore year after declaring the major, and should plan to start attending no later than Fall Term of senior year (no matter which term you are writing your paper).