Students may perform individual research under the guidance of a lecturer or academic professional. Students receive course credit (BIOL 4910) and can potentially be a co-author on a research publication. Typically, these opportunities arise through conversations between a student and a particular instructors and may occur as part of a collaboration with one of the graduate faculty laboratories.
Qualified undergraduate students may participate in graduate faculty research and perform individual projects in the laboratory of a biology professor. Members of the faculty have laboratories staffed with graduate students, senior scientists and postdoctoral associates. Their research is often sponsored by external agencies, like the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. Students in these labs will be trained by lab members, expected to keep a lab notebook, and attend lab meetings. The student’s research could potentially co-authorship on a research publication, though recognition at this level typically develops over the course of multiple years working on a particular project. There are a variety of means to participate with faculty in this environment, and the most common option is registering for BIOL 4910 (1-5 credit hours). In some cases, the student can receive a fellowship or stipend in lieu of course credit. Honors students may also receive support through scholarships sponsored by the Honors College.
A student is qualified to work in a lab if they:
- Possess an excellent work ethic.
- Are independent, persistent, and reliable.
- Are informed about the research of faculty.
- Respect the substantial time, effort, and research funds faculty invest to train and professionally develop undergraduate researchers in their lab.
A host laboratory will invest considerable time, energy, and funds into your development as a scientist. Thus, it is important to see yourself as a member of a research team and contribute to the research mission of that lab.
Many of their articles can be found by searching Pubmed (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed). This process sets you up for success and will establish you as a serious candidate for research opportunities.
Effective resumes appear professional and are grammatically correct. Include your GPA on your resume. Emphasize strengths you feel will be valuable in a laboratory context. Reliability (showing up on time, every time), problem solving skills, independence (searching for solutions to difficulties on your own and planning the next step prior to seeking help in a work setting), and thinking outside the box (novel hypotheses are great to hear from students) are rare but important qualities.
Ask if they are available at a specific date and time to meet in person. A single introductory email may take you 30 minutes to write! Putting effort in preparing an introductory email greatly improves probability of being received well. (Consider beginning your email with the formal introduction "Dear Dr. _________,".) Mention why their research interests you, referring to the papers you read. Conclude your email with a request to follow-up in person at a specific day in the coming 2 weeks. Attach your resume to the email.
Complete on-line CITI training (www.citiprogram.org) prior to registration and include a digital copy of the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Basic Biomedical completion report and the Conflicts of Interest Mini-course to this form. If these documents are not provided, BIOL 4910 will not be approved.
Each faculty's lab group usually has regular lab meetings. Be sure to attend lab meetings. Lab hours can vary based on the project that you are working on. Be sure to dedicate enough time each week thorughout thr semester to complete the work required for your agreed project.
At the end of the semester, submit a written report summarizing research activities by the last day of MWF classes. Complete the semester report cover sheet and have your faculty advisor sign it. Students must submit one copy of the report as well as the cover sheet to their instructor and email a second copy to PURL via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).