Undergraduate students are encouraged to participate in research during their time at Boston University. Students can apply for Undergraduate Research for Credit, Honors in Biology, Readings in Biology, or UROP.
Each year, approximately 100 Biology students participate in research in faculty laboratories. Some students participate in off-campus research at Boston University's Medical Campus or other local hospitals and universities.
Finding a faculty lab or off-campus lab can take some time. Students are responsible for making connections and networking with faculty and off-campus labs. Students usually start by emailing several faculty whose research interests them to request a meeting to discuss possible opportunities. Other students are in contact with the graduate students who teach their lab sections, or identify faculty research projects posted on the UROP website. When you contact a faculty member, be sure to include your resume, transcript, and a short description of your goals (2 credit research, 4 credit research, Honors, etc.).
Biology Courses "In the Field"
Additionally, students have the opportunity to participate in field based courses where they can gain valuable hands on experience. Programs like the Marine Semester and the Tropical Ecology Program are two great programs students can take advantage of during their time at BU. Other courses such as Herpetology combine lectures, laboratory work and field trips to give students first hand experience in a natural setting. Read about Dr. Chris Schnieder and Dr. Karen Warkentin and their "Adventures in Herpetology" during spring break 2014.
Undergraduate Research for Credit
Instructions for what needs to be included in the research proposal are listed on the application. It is important that the research abstract included in the application contain a clear description of any hypotheses you will test, and how you will test them. Students receiving credit for research are not expected to be technicians or laboratory assistants, but rather semi-independent, intellectual contributors to a research project.
Undergraduate Research for academic credit can be done at any level from the freshman through senior years. To receive credit toward the major, however, research must be done on an approved topic in courses open only to juniors and seniors.
Follow these steps:
- Determine which faculty members are conducting research in the field of study in which you are interested.
- Contact the faculty member(s) directly to determine if he or she has openings for a new student, and if they are willing to sponsor you.
- With approval of a faculty mentor, you may then apply for Research for Credit as early as freshman year.
Research for Credit applications are due to the Undergraduate Programs Coordinator by the end of the first week of classes each semester. Students must be participating in research during the semester(s) of application and thus cannot apply for Research for Credit for previously conducted research. Completed applications can be dropped off to the Main Biology Offic at 5 Cummington Mall.
Off-campus Resarch Guidelines:
Students who are interested in receiving credit for off-campus research (including research conducted in other departments at BU (ex. Psychology)) must find a Biology Faculty member to sponsor them. This is usually your faculty advisor but could also be another faculty member with whom you have a good relationship and who is familiar with the field of research in which you will be engaged. Both your PI and the Biology faculty sponsor must sign your application. When working off-campus, it is required that students meet with their Biology faculty sponsor at least twice/semester to provide progress reports on their research. This is an informal report and may be facilitated with Powerpoint slides of data or a brief written report at the discretion of the Biology faculty sponsor. Off-campus students are responsible for ensuring that the PI and the Biology faculty sponsor are in communication with each other regarding project status, updates, problems (if any), end-of-semester reports of any kind, and grading. Please review the off-campus research guidelines with your faculty sponsor and PI.
- A maximum of 8 credits (two courses) from the following courses may be counted as biology elective courses toward the major, but no more than 4 credits (one course) will apply toward the laboratory requirement:
- CAS BI 391, 392 (Junior level research) or
- CAS BI 401, 402 (Honors Research) or
- CAS BI 491, 492 (Senior level research)
- Students do not need to take two consecutive semesters of research to apply 8 credits toward the major (e.g., students can take CAS BI 391 and BI 491 and apply all 8 credits toward the major).
- Freshmen and sophomores can register for a maximum of 2 credits per semester, which will NOT count towards the Biology major.
- A maximum of 12 credits of Undergraduate Research in Biology will count towards graduation requirements. See the Bachelor of Arts Degree Overview for more information about degree requirements.
Honors in Biology
Qualified students may apply for Honors Research in Biology.
Readings in Biology
Students at any level may take Readings in Biology. These courses are often used for preparation for Undergraduate Research for Credit or Honors in Biology.
Students work in conjunction with a Biology faculty member to intiate these 2-credit courses, which involve library research, discussion, and possible written work on a well-defined topic in any area of the biological sciences.
Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)
UROP helps students connect with faculty members who want to involve undergraduates in their research. UROP also provides financial support for the following:
- Summer research stipends
- Academic year research stipends
- Research supplies
- Travel for research purposes
- Travel to professional meetings
Clarie Schenkel works in Dr. Kim McCall's laboratory studying programmed cell death in the ovaries of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.
Colin Averill recenlty published a paper in the prestigious journal, Ecology, along with his advisor, Dr. Adrien Finzi. His research work focuses on the forms of nitrogen that control the productivity of hardwood and boreal forests.
Curran Uppaluri is pursuing a dual major in both Biology and Economics and works with Dr. Peter Buston investigating whether Amphiprion percula, a type of anemonefish, exhibit definite personality traits.
Michelle McInnis, a senior Biology major working with Prof. Richard Primack, is investigating the effects of a warming climate on the flowering and leafing out times of plants.
Spencer Goodman is a senior working in Dr. John Finnerty's lab investigating gene expression in the parasitic lined sea anemone, Edwardsiella lineata.