Students may perform individual research under the guidance of any of the Biology faculty members. These experiences can take many forms, though students can receive course credit (BIOL 4910) for approved projects. Typically, these opportunities arise through conversations between a student and a faculty member and may occur as part of a collaboration with one of the graduate faculty laboratories.
Qualified undergraduate students may participate in faculty research and perform individual projects in the laboratory of a biology professor. Members of the graduate 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 earn 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.
Students can also participate in research with lecturers and academic professionals through BIOL 4910. While these faculty do not have their own laboratory space and rarely have access to grant funds, the Department of Biology and PURL have allocated laboratory spaces and equipment to make this possible if faculty members request use of these resources.
Here are characteristics that faculty consider essential for qualified lab workers:
- Excellent work ethic.
- Independence, persistence, and reliability.
- Being somewhat informed about the research of faculty.
- Respect for the time, effort, and funds that faculty invest to train and professionally develop undergraduate researchers.
Absolutely! BIOL 4910 is available to students who are new to college or have been here for several years already. The key element is networking with a faculty member who will help you identify a project and can approve you to work 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. Student researchers typically are focused on training in a first semester and become productive for a project late in the second semester.
Consider the chart below to assess how much time you should expect to work in the lab per week for a specific number of credits in BIOL 4910. weekly.
|Hours per week in lab|
|# of Credits||Spring and Fall||Summer|
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.
Completion of the free, on-line CITI training is required to participate in BIOL 4910. When you have completed the training, send a digital copy of the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Basic Biomedical completion report and the Conflicts of Interest Mini-course your faculty mentor. Your faculty mentor is responsible for maintaining these records for all individuals in their labs.
Submit the BIOL 4910 Agreement and Approval Form. Before you complete this form, you must meet with a potential faculty mentor to determine if they have the capacity to mentor you, to discuss expectations they have for students in BIOL 4910, agree on the appropriate number of credit hours, and to determine a research question or hypothesis that you will address.
Upon submission of the form online, the faculty member will be notified by email that your information is ready for review. Pending their approval by a faculty mentor and the Program for Undergraduate Research in the Life Sciences, you will be contacted with registration instructions.
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 ([email protected]).