Dr. Rick Bennett

211 Ag Science North
OFFICE HOURS: Virtual Office Hours, M-F 8:00am-5:00pm

Perfered Method of Communication:  Email.  No formal office hours are set for this course, although face-to-face appointments are available by request.  Dr. Bennett is available to all students in the class by e-mail and phone during normal business hours from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm, Mondays through Fridays, during the semester.  Response time will be prompt to emails, usually within one day, depending on Dr. Bennett's travel schedule.  The instructor will also monitor the Canvas Discussions relating to this class.


Course content for ABT 395 is managed in Canvas, the university's learning management system.  All students registered for this course should have access to the ABT 395 Canvas course. 

Any student with an incomplete in ABT 395 who does not have access to the current semester's course in Canvas, please contact the Course Coordinator for access to the Canvas course.

Please refer to the Canvas ABT 395 course for all deadlines, etc. regarding these courses.


ABT 395: Independent study in biotechnology under the supervision of a faculty member. 1 to 3 credits hours/semester. Prerequisite: Agricultural and Medical Biotechnology major and consent of advisor before registration.

The course may be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits.  Students MUST complete course requirements to receive credit each time they enroll i.e, students may enroll for additional credit hours only after they have completed course requirements and received a grade that meets the program requirement.



Please note that there are 4 essential elements required to successfully complete your independent course of study:

  1. Verification of an Agricultural and Medical Biotechnology program-approved Research Project Proposal (learning contract)
  2. Completion of the approved research activites under the supervision of a faculty mentor
  3. Submission of a Written Report.
  4. Presentation of an Oral Report (see below) approved by the research mentor.  It is imperative that you discuss your report and presentation with your mentor to allow them the opportunity to comment/edit/approve.  This is more than just a courtesy since the data are "owned" by the lab i.e., the faculty member or company where you did your project.



Meeting date is listed in the syllabus.

An informational meeting is held early during the semester according to the syllabus in Canvas ABT 395 course.  This meeting is MANDATORY and intended to answer any questions you may have.


Due in ABT 395 Canvas course as specified in the syllabus.

Learning Contracts are required and are available in the Canvas ABT 395 course for the current semester.


Due in ABT 395 Canvas course as specified in the syllabus.

ALL currently enrolled ABT 395, or previously* enrolled students who have earned an "Incomplete" as a course grade, must indicate on the Student Information Sheet (available in Canvas) when your ABT 395 proposal was approved and by whom. If your proposal is the proposal that you completed in ABT 301, please provide the semester you completed ABT 301 and the instructor's name.

VERY IMPORTANT:  Even if you have already filed a Student Information Sheet form a previous semester and the contact and project information has not changed, please submit a learning contract for current semester.


Grades will be composed of the following components:

250 points

  1. 50% (a) Faculty mentor’s evaluation of the student’s research performance in all aspects of the project, effort and engagement, data production and analyses, overall understanding of research topic), quality of written report and presentation.
  2. 20% (b) Written Report 
  3. 20%  (b) Oral Presentation
  4. 10%  (b)Student’s compliance with course instructions (e.g., turn in the Student Information Sheet and class materials on time, etc.)

(a) - This portion of the course will be determined after consultation of the research mentor/faculty member by the course instructor.

(b) - This portion of the course grade will be determined by the course instructor.

Grading Scale

Grade scale (Undergraduate students)

  • 450-500pts: A
  • 400–449 pts: B
  • 350–399 pts: C
  • 300-349 pts: D
  • <299 pts: E

Midterm Grades:  For undergraduates, midterm grades will be posted in myUK by the deadline established by the University Senate and published in the Academic Calendar.


  1. All students must upload the following information into the Canvas ABT 395 course by the deadline outlined in the syllabus: a) title of their presentation and b) the full name, departmental affiliation, e-mail address of their mentor and c) any class conflicts with the presentation dates/time. Please make every effort to indicate class or other conflicts at the time of title submission.  If you do not have any conflicts, please indicate accordingly.  Request for last minute changes to the presentation schedule will not be accommodated except under extenuating circumstances.  
  2. The final presentation schedule will be posted on Canvas, the ABT homepage and disseminated to research mentors and the university community at large as specified in the course syllabus.
  3. Final oral presentation must be shared with your mentor WELL in ADVANCE (at least 1 week before your final presentation is due in Canvas) for approval and feedback.  Last minute submissions to mentor may affect your grade.  
  4. Final oral presentation file due in Canvas as specified in the syllabus. ( NO EXCEPTIONS).
  5. Oral ABT 395/399 research presentations are scheduled later in the semester.  See the syllabus in the Canvas ABT 395 course.  The instructor will try to schedule a student's seminar time to accommodate their class schedule, etc.  Students who turn in ALL the required information about their seminar (see #1 above) early, will be given preference in terms of presentation date/time. 
  6. Presentations (a PowerPoint slideshow) should be about 12 minutes in length.  A 2-3 minute question session with the audience will follow each presentation.  Although priority of questions will be given to ABT students in the audience, presenters should expect addtional questions from faculty members.  
  7. Individual student practice sessions (PowerPoint slideshow) can be arranged with the instructor.  To schedule a session, please review the syllabus in Canvas for the instructor's availablity.      


  • One copy of your written report - including the mentor approval (signature) is due in ABT 395 Canvas course by the deadline specified in the syllabus. 
  • The ABT 395 written reports must be in the form of a scientific journal of your mentor's choosing
  • The ABT 395 written reports must be provided to your mentor WELL in ADVANCE for approval.  Last minute submissions may affect your grade.

The written report MUST contain the following sections:

  1. Cover Page - Title and list of authors and their affiliations, and signature of the sponsoring research mentor.
  2. Abstract - An abbreviated summary of the report's elements (150 words).
  3. Introduction - A brief presentation/introduction of topical concepts required by the uninformed reader to understand the background and rational for your study.
  4. Materials and Methods - a description of critical reagents, procedures, and assays used to generate experimental data.
  5. Experimental hypothesis being tested (e.g.,"The goal of this experiment was to test the effect of X treatment on Y parameter.") or the purpose of the research (e.g., "The purpose of the experimentation was to develop an X assay to measure Y parameter."
  6. Results - The formal presentation and description of your experimental data. This section must contain a statement indicating that conductance of the experimentation complied with the specific applicable Chemical Hygiene, Radiation Safety, Institutional Biological Safety, and Institutional Animal Care and Use protocols required for you to conduct your project. The experimental design and methods used to statistically analyze your data needs to be presented, including a description of all relevant "control" observations for your assays and the number of observations ("n") for each data group.
  7. Discussion - A written discussion of your data in terms of what your data revealed, how your data compare to what others have seen in analogous experiments in identical or comparable experimental models, and the physiological/practical relevance of your observations to a given experimental/biological model and/or field of research.
    Note:  sometimes it is useful to combine the Results and Discussion sections into a single manuscript component (i.e., a Results and Discussion section).
  8. Conclusions - A formal statement about the conclusion(s) drawn from your data as it applies to the goal/hypothesis tested in the experiment. That is, did you accept or reject the experimental hypothesis? Was an assay successfully developed? Or, was the data inconclusive for whatever reasons?
  9. References - A listing of the sources for the citations used in your report.
  10. Overall word limit for items 3-7 is ~ 3000 words with maximum 900 words per section.

Personal Reflection Assignment

Due in ABT 395 Canvas course as specified in the syllabus.

For many students ABT 395 prepresents the pinnacle of their undergraduate research experince, and allos for an important opportunity to reflect on their journey as a scientist through the program.  Addtionally, while important for your own growth, other peers may also find inspiration from your reflection.  For this assignment, you are asked to respond to the prompt below in one of two formats (written or visual), and invited to release that profuct for the ABT program to share on our website to hopefully inspire past, current and future students.  Declining to publicly share your product will not negatively impact your grade on this assigment, so please do not feel any pressure to do so. Prompt:  Evaluate how your experience in the program has influenced your outlook on the relationship between society and biotechnology, and how your personal philosophies and values have been influenced as a consequence of the program.

Product option 1 - Video: Record a 2-3 minute video (on a webcam, smartphone, etc.).  While we do not expect professional-level videography, please ensure that the camera is not too shaky, the viewer can see your face, and the audio is clear. Also, while notes may be helpful, please try to avoid reading from a script, and focus on a genuine dialogue that will (hopefully!) inspire your peers.

Product option 2 – Written testimonial: Write a minimum 250-word essay.  This product will be assessed for content rather than grammar and diction, but please write it to the best of your ability.



Due in ABT 395 Canvas course as specified in the syllabus.

The PHOTO RELEASE DOCUMENT will serve as guidance for ABT leadership when we consider sharing these materials.  Declining consent to the photo release will NOT be used against you in any way, rather inform us not to share your submttted product (written or visual).


Please refer to the syllabus for the exact time and due date for each assignment.

    1. Mandatory Informational meeting
    2. Completed Learning Contract & Photo Release documents
    3. Personal Reflections (written or video format) assignment
    4. Presentation title and other information 
    5. Oral presentations schedule posted
    6. Final oral presentation file due in Canvas
    7. Oral presentations
    8. The written report which MUST be signed by your faculty research mentor (or the research mentor by send their approval by email to the course instructor).