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Why do Undergraduate Research?
Engaging in undergraduate research will help you acquire critical skills in communication, independent thinking, creativity and problem solving. Besides, you'll be engaging in the College's mission of scientific discovery, scholarly activity, and artistic creation. The research work will help you to acquire knowledge in your academic field that is not covered in class. Personally, research will help you clarify your academic and career interests and goals and enhance your professional and academic credentials. Finally, you will develop a one-on-one mentoring relationship with a faculty member that will earn you a grea recommendation letter in your applications to graduate or professional programs. The Biology department provides our students with ample opportunities to achieve all these.
Choosing a Research Project
Many students who have not done research before are unsure how to find an advisor and choose a research project that best fit their interests. Think about what interests you. It is likely that you have a few topics that truly catch your attention. Use the local media, library and web to seek additional information. Then visit the Faculty Research page and see what kinds of research are being carried out in the Biology department. Browse the brief descriptions of each faculty member's work. Once you have identified several faculty members whose work interests you, visit their individual homepage to read up more about what they do. Contact them by email or phone and explain you are interested in working with them.
Prepare for the Interview
Why should this busy stranger agree to mentor your research? The answer is simple: you would be an asset to their research. As an undergraduate, you are not expected to be a fully trained expert; however, you should have a general idea (the more detailed the better) of what this researcher's work entails. Bring a list of questions:
- What kinds of project might be available for you to work on?
- What kind of commitment do you need to make? (hours/week, expectations)
- Is there funding available?
- Can you do the research for course credit?
Follow up on the interview
Make time to call or send a note thanking the researcher for meeting with you. A short email will do. If the researcher is unable to offer you his or her support, do not be discouraged. Think of this interview as a good practice for the next one. If the intrview leads to an offer to collaborate, set up a time to further discuss the project, and ask for materials or references to help you prepare.
Up to 6 credits of independent laboratory research (BIO 424) may be counted towards a B.S. in Biology. Indpendent research, however, is not required for a B.S. in Biology degree.
Undergraduate Research Pictures