Research Opportunities

There are many opportunities for undergraduates to become involved in the active research programs of the department. Research experience is a valuable complement to coursework, allows students to delve deeper into a specific area of scientific research, and provides a unique opportunity for first hand experience in a research environment. This can be extremely valuable for students pursing graduate or professional programs after graduation or just to get a taste of what research is like. You can explore research opportunities at any time, but most faculty members will expect students to have already completed many of their core courses.

Biology 3900 is a specific course designed for students to earn credit by completing scientific investigations under the direction of a faculty member. Permission from a faculty member is required to register for Biology 3900.

Suggestions on how to get involved in Undergraduate Research:

1. Earn high grades in your courses and make an effort to get to know your professors. You must have at least a 3.0 in Biology (and 2.8 overall) to be eligible for undergraduate research and you are more likely to be accepted into the lab of the faculty member of your choice if you have a strong background.

2. Spend some time identifying an area of research you would like to be involved in. Then identify faculty members whose research programs match your interests (you can read about faculty research areas on the faculty directory web page). Recent publications are often also included on individual faculty web pages. Explore some of the faculty members’ publications to gather background information on their area of scientific expertise. It will be important to be prepared when you go speak with the faculty member (see below).

3. After identifying a faculty member, contact them to express your interest in their work ask about the possibility of doing research in their lab. Be prepared to explain why an undergraduate research project would be a valuable experience for you and why you would be a successful undergraduate researcher in their laboratory.

4. Do not be discouraged if a particular faculty member cannot immediately accept your request. There are many reasons why faculty members may not be able to take on more undergraduate researchers. The most common is that their lab is full, and space and equipment are limited. They may also be over-committed with various responsibilities. Therefore, be flexible, inquire with another faculty member or try again a different semester.