As an important part of a student-centered research university, the Biology Department provides instruction on research and offers its undergraduates opportunities to participate in research. Undergraduate research is important for anyone who is thinking about pursuing graduate work in the biological sciences. An application for graduate school can be greatly enhanced if you can demonstrate an interest in and an ability to conduct research. Because of the close relationship between biological research and human health, undergraduate research experience can also greatly benefit applications to professional health science programs, such as medical school.
If you are interested in undertaking a research project with a Biology faculty member, we urge you to view our online faculty research interest profiles. Students hold the primary responsibility for initiating research participation with our faculty, so you should directly contact and talk with faculty about the opportunities they can offer to sponsor your research.
On these two lists, you may be able to identify one or more faculty members who have ongoing projects in an area of Biology that you find especially interesting. Once you have identified one or more faculty members, you should schedule an appointment with each person to explore in more detail the possibility of him/her sponsoring your research interests. You should discuss with each faculty member what they would expect of you in terms of time commitments and the possible projects in which you could become involved. The faculty will let you know about availability of space in their laboratories—we encourage all Biology majors to participate in research, but space within some research programs may be limited.
We strongly recommend that students initiate their research programs as early as possible in their academic career (sophomore year) to gain the most out of their research experience. Academic credit may be received for your research by registering for BIO 460 (see below for more information).
If you are interested in a research project with someone outside the Biology Department, please see Biology Department Undergraduate Academic Support Coordinator, Billie Trapani (LSC 114, 315.443.9139, firstname.lastname@example.org) for a list of other people who may be willing to sponsor your research.
Undergraduate research instruction occurs in a number of laboratory courses currently taught within the Biology Department curriculum, including the following:
- BIO 405: Introduction to Field Biology Lab
- BIO 417: Animal Behavior & Evolution Lab
- BIO 425: Cell Biology Lab
- BIO 431: Population Genetics
- BIO 435: Genetics Lab
- BIO 453: Ecology Lab
- BIO 455: Physiology Lab
- BIO 465: Molecular Biology Lab
- BIO 475: Biochemistry Lab
Students participating in a faculty member's research program can also receive Biology credit for their efforts. This advanced level of undergraduate research can begin as early as the sophomore year and may be repeated for credit in subsequent semesters. Interested students should meet with their faculty sponsor to discuss registration for BIO 460: Research in Biology. The registration process requires submission of a Proposal for BIO 460 petition to Biology Department Undergraduate Academic Support Coordinator, Billie Trapani (LSC 114, 315.443.9139, email@example.com) and department approval. Research also can be done through the Biology Distinction Program, which is co-directed by Dr. Heather Coleman (LSC 460, 315.443.0453, firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr. Scott Pitnick (LSC 252, 315.443.5128, email@example.com.
The Biology Department organizes an Undergraduate Research Conference each year on the last Friday in April. During the conference, undergraduate students who have been conducting research have the opportunity to tell others about their work through published abstracts and poster presentations. For more information, contact Associate Chair and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Heather Coleman (LSC 460, 315.443.0453, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Some undergraduate Biology students participate in research projects during their summer breaks. If you are interested in the possibility of pursuing such an opportunity, please speak with one or more Biology faculty members who are knowledgeable about your area(s) of interest, and may be able to help you identify a suitable program or project.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides a Summer Research Experience Program (R25) at the NIH for high school and undergraduate students. The program is intended to expose students to research procedures in a unique environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research and training. With guidance from scientists in the Institutes, students conduct research in selected areas of laboratory investigation. In addition to participating in research projects, students attend lectures and seminars to enhance their education and develop investigative skills. The program runs for a minimum of 8 weeks, usually from early June to the end of August; some flexibility exists to accommodate individual student needs. The NIH website (see link above) provides information on the application and selection process and highlights current areas of investigation to which students may be assigned. Students in high school and college are invited to consider joining the National Institutes of Health for a summer of research in state-of-the-art biomedical research laboratories.