Unlike examinations, a research paper is an opportunity to explore a topic that you are most
interested in. Writing gives you a chance to learn more about a topic than is possible from
lectures and helps you organize new information. In this spirit, you may choose any
biological topic that interests you, read enough to become an “expert” about it, and write a
paper that combines your understanding with evidence in support of your ideas.
Your paper topic may be related to medicine, biochemistry, genetics, ecology, zoology,
evolution, or any other aspect of biology. Suggested topics are given at the end of this
handout, however I encourage you to research topics not found on the list as well.
Please note that you must write a paper specifically for this class. You may NOT submit a
paper that you have submitted or plan to submit to another class.
Your research paper must be 5-7 pages (Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1 inch margins).
All papers must include a title page and a “Literature Cited” page, with at least 5 sources.
You may add diagrams to your paper, but you must include them on a separate “Figures”
page. Please note that neither the title page, nor the Literature Cited, nor the “Figures”
pages will count towards the 5-7 page requirement). You may use either MLA or APA
Regardless of which topic you choose, you MUST address the following points:
❖ Give adequate background information
❖ Be sure to explain WHY your phenomenon occurs. For example,
▪ If your topic is a medical disorder, do NOT just list the symptoms. Relate
the symptoms to the cellular/biochemical malfunction that is occurring.
▪ If your topic is an ecological issue, explain HOW the human activity and/or
natural circumstances led to the problem in the ecosystem.
❖ Describe at least one recent scientific experiment performed within the past five
years and relate how that experiment improved on previous knowledge.
You may use Wikipedia to select a topic, but you cannot use it as one of your sources.
Papers should be uploaded to Blackboard.
If you are having technical problems, then you can submit the paper to me via email. THE
RESEARCH PAPER IS DUE BY THE START OF CLASS.
POSSIBLE Topic Ideas
– Cancer (select a specific type)
– Diabetes (Type I or Type II)
– Alzheimer’s Disease
– Organ Transplants (Rejection, Xenotransplants)
– Allergies / Asthma
– Multiple Sclerosis
– Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)
– Sports Injuries and Treatments
– Down Syndrome
– Opioid Addiction (focus on biology)
– Effect of gut bacteria on overall health
– Effect of fitness program on the body (relate to
– Diseases affecting developing countries
– Low Carb Diets
– Food Substitutes (Saccharine, Nutrasweet,
Olestra, Splenda, Stevia etc.)
Genetics / Biotechnology
– Nature vs. Nurture
– Genetic Engineering Applications (Agriculture,
Research, pros/cons, etc.)
– Gene Therapy
– Stem Cell Research and Applications
– Human Test Subjects in Medical Research
– Mechanical Hearts (or other artificial body parts)
– Genetic Counseling & Ethical Issues
– Epigenetics (how the environment affects how
genes are expressed)
Human Impact on the Environment
– Health Effects of Environmental Poisons (PCBs,
lead, mercury, etc)
– Animal Testing (& alternatives)
– Pesticides (chemical vs. biological)
– Chemicals in our foods/containers (BPA,
– Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance and/or
– The Red Queen Hypothesis
– The Selfish Gene Hypothesis
– Scientific Theory of the Origin of the Life
– Modern Applications of Evolution