Why perform research as an undergraduate?
Undergraduate research is an eye-opening experience! It provides you with opportunities and perspectives that are not available through traditional classroom education. Participating in these opportunities is essential if you wish to pursue an advanced degree because admittance to graduate programs is based in part upon undergraduate research experience, recommendations from Biology faculty, and hands on experience with modern laboratory equipment and techniques. Thus, research projects are excellent training grounds for successful careers in academic or industrial settings.
How can I perform an undergraduate research?
There are ~2200 biology majors at GSU, and the Biology Department provides its majors with many research opportunities:
- Research in Faculty Labs: 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 funding 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 merit 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 the course BIOL 4910 (1-5 credit hours). In some cases, the student can receive a fellowship or stipend in lieu of course credit for one or more semesters. Honors students may also receive support through scholarships sponsored by the Honors College
- Directed Research with Instructional Faculty: Students may also 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.
- Theme-based Biology Laboratory Courses (CUREs): In this course, students are members of a small research team that investigates a particular research project under the guidance of an instructor. Students receive course credit (BIOL 4905) and could potentially co-author a publication or use the experience to complete an Honors Thesis. This course is also an excellent way to gain research training before pursuing research in a Faculty lab or strengthen an application for graduate or professional school.
- Internationally Genetically-Engineered Machines (iGEM): Students collaborates on a bioengineering project as part of a research team. The GSU iGEM team competes in national and international events with groups from other universities. Unlike the other opportunities in Biology, the iGEM team is also a student club, and students can join iGEM team as a club member or for course credit (BIOL 4905).