The Senior Thesis offers NSB majors a unique opportunity to conduct their own research project and gain a deeper understanding of scientific research. Students apply the knowledge they have acquired in multiple courses to conduct an original study. By working on their own project, students learn first-hand how to design and execute experimental research. During their final full year, NSB majors must complete two semesters of research and seminars. They can choose among three thesis options that differ primarily on whether students conduct their own research project in a lab or as part of a course.
Option 1. Individual research project and Senior Research Seminar (NSBV BC3593-4). Students develop and conduct their own research project working in a lab under the supervision of an advisor. The year-long Senior Research Seminar helps students write their senior thesis and acquire scientific communication skills. Students must begin to develop a plan for their project in their junior year. (This was the only option available to NSB majors up until 2023-2024.)
Option 2. Neuroscience Guided Research (NSBV BC3591-2). This year-long course is designed to introduce students to neuroscience research using a combination of imaging and analytical tools. Students will utilize computational methods to analyze brain images as part of a research project on functional and vascular neuroanatomy.
Option 3. Neuronal Circuits (NSBV BC3590). This year-long course introduces students to genetic tools for neuronal circuit mapping and connectomics analysis. Students will perform behavioral experiments with transgenic animals that aim to mapping neuronal circuits controlling specific brain functions.
NSB seniors are expected to work on their senior thesis for a minimum of 10-12 hours of lab work per week.
NSB seniors present their theses to the community during a two-day conference hosted by the NSB Department at the end of the academic year. Faculty, staff, families, and fellow students are invited to attend and hear about the majors' impressive work. It is always a wonderful culminating experience for both students and faculty.
Previously completed theses are available online to NSB majors and students who joined the department mailing list – if you want to join the department mailing list, please contact the Department Administrator (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In the spring semester, the department holds a meeting to explain the thesis options to junior major students. Please note that the senior requirement must be taken in the fall-spring sequence. If you plan to graduate in January, the senior thesis must be done in the fall and spring of your junior year.
Selection of Thesis Topics
For many NSB majors, the senior thesis project is their most enjoyable and intellectually rewarding experience at Barnard. To make sure you have a similar experience, we can offer you several types of support:
- Attend the NSB program-planning meeting when you declare the major. We prepare you for the thesis process.
- Attend the meeting the NSB department holds in the spring semester to explain the thesis options to junior majors.
- Meet with the Chair, Department Representative or the administrator of the NSB department to discuss your interests.
- To learn more about the labs where you can conduct your research project, explore the research interests of the faculty in Barnard NSB Department, the Departments of Psychology and Biology at Barnard, the Departments of Psychology and Biological Sciences at Columbia University, the Zuckerman Institute, CU Medical Campus, NY State Psychiatric Institute, and nearby universities, including NYU, Rockefeller University and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
- Speak with the Chair or your advisor to help you look into the labs in the many institutions in New York City; look at the webpage of labs in New York City; contact labs/mentors who have worked with Barnard NSB students in the past to see if there are openings at the present time.