During their senior year, students in iCons will engage in authentic scientific research in UMass Amherst faculty research laboratories. UMass Amherst offers a rich portfolio of world-class research opportunities in the fields of Renewable Energy and Biomedicine, the two concentration areas in the iCons Program.

Course Description

Each iCons 4 student will join a laboratory and develop a capstone research project that identifies and fills a scientific knowledge gap in their chosen theme area. The project must be interdisciplinary and integrative—crossing disciplinary boundaries, and building upon previous learning in Gen Eds and major courses at UMass Amherst—to create new knowledge in the theme area.

iCons 4 provides a structured support system for students to make progress in their research, while maintaining an interdisciplinary perspective. In the Fall, each student will produce a short video abstract of their research, explaining research motivation, methodology and impacts relative to multifaceted world problems. In the Spring, students continue working with peer support teams to maintain effective communication, and write an Integrative Experience essay to provide context for their work.

iCons 4 concludes with the Senior Expo, a research symposium open to all members of the University and the general public. The course fulfills the requirements of the Commonwealth Honors College thesis/project experience.

Get ready for iCons 4:

iCons 4: How to Prepare, and What to Expect

Prerequisites: All iCons 4 students must have successfully completed iCons 3.

Fall iCons 4 Courses

Mandatory for registration: 499Y Contract/Semester Plan

Dept 499 Y (3 credits): “Dept” stands for the Department of your primary major. “Y” stands of “yearlong grading,” meaning that you will receive a grade in the spring of your senior year for both the Fall and Spring semesters. You will take this course regardless of whether or not you are a student in Commonwealth Honors College.

ICONS 489FH (1 credit): This seminar provides a support structure for you as you work on your research. Peer affinity groups will help you in maintaining interdisciplinary perspective, and creating advanced communication products about research to maximize impact.

Spring iCons 4 Courses

Mandatory for registration: 499T Contract/Semester Plan

Dept 499 T (3 credits): “T” stands for thesis, meaning this course provides the framework for completing your research and your thesis. 

ICONS 489SH (1 credit): You will continue working with peer support teams to maintain effective communication, write an Integrative Experience essay to provide context for your work, and showcase your research in the Senior Expo Research Symposium.

Student Learning Goals

Students completing iCons 4 will become skilled at the following:

  • Thriving in a research laboratory with a faculty advisor and research group members.
  • Identifying holes and gaps in scientific knowledge related to the chosen theme area.
  • Asking and refining good scientific questions related to real-world problems.
  • Designing scientific experiments that may yield valid insights.
  • Carrying out rigorous scientific studies with careful collection/analyses of data.
  • Quantitatively interpreting data to arrive at new insights related to the theme area.
  • Integrate learning from present and previous study (i.e. from General Education and major courses) to promote scholarship in a given theme area.
  • Collaborating in student teams to support research and promote the integrative experience.
  • Communicating research results orally and in writing to experts, other scientists, and non-scientists.
  • Engaging in self-reflection as learners, providing and utilizing constructive criticism.