Student Research Programs

The Biology faculty have active research laboratories, and welcome student interest and involvement in these projects (see Faculty Research). Faculty encourage biology majors to conduct their own research by participating in the undergraduate research program within the department. Participation in this program may include coursework, summer research, and fellowships.

Research for Course Credit

There are several ways to earn course credit while doing research, including completion of Introduction to Biological Research (Biol 392), Directed Research (Biol 290, 390, and/or 490) and one or two units of Senior Thesis (Biol 491).

  • Biology 392 is a great place to start, as it teaches students how to design a research project and communicate scientific information. Students use this knowledge as they design their own research projects in collaboration with faculty members, and as they present their results at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium at the conclusion of their work. 
  • Directed Research (Biol 290, 290, and/or 490) gives students the opportunity to conduct their research under the mentorship of a faculty member during the academic semester, while earning course credit. Students may use Directed Research to continue a project they started as part of their summer research (see below), or to begin a new project that they may later present as a senior thesis.
  • Senior thesis (Biol 491) provides a chance for seniors to earn course credit as they prepare their independent research as a scientific paper and a seminar presentation. A list of senior theses shows the variety of research projects that have been undertaken in recent years.

The contract for Directed Research or Senior Thesis can be downloaded here.

Summer Research

Students have the opportunity to start their research during the summer by applying for the Summer Research Grants in Science and Mathematics. This $3250 grant is awarded on a competitive basis to students to conduct research with a faculty member. Students are expected to work full-time for 10 weeks on their project, and then present their findings to the campus community in a poster session during the Undergraduate Research Symposium at the start of fall semester.

Other research opportunities

In addition, the University Enrichment Committee awards up to $500 to full-time students for research during the academic year. These Student Research Awards are evaluated by a faculty-student panel, and awards are made on a competitive basis.

Please go to our Links page for summer research opportunities and graduate fellowships.