Getting Started in Research
There are numerous opportunities to do research. However, where do you start? Pathways to research typically begin with students identifying their areas of interest and then reaching out to faculty who conduct work in related fields.
- Identify your areas of interest: What do you want to study?
- Find opportunities: Which professors are working in the areas of interest to you? (Read through biographies and CVs of AS&E and URMC faculty.)
- Create a solid resume: Visit the Greene Center for assistance.
- Contact professors: Ask if they will take you on as a research assistant. Enclose your resume and keep your communication professional. (Sample email)
- Be persistent: If a professor says no, ask if they have a colleague who might be able to help you. See also the finding a research mentor page for tips and resources to help students find faculty research mentors.
Department of Biology's Undergraduate Bill of Rights (pdf)
Undergraduate Jobs in the Biology Department
- Job Openings - Students who are interested in working at the Biology Department may view and apply for job openings via JobLink located on the Student Employment Office website.
Office of Undergraduate Research
Outside of the department the Office of Undergraduate Research is a great resource for getting research funding, learning about undergraduate research conferences, and more.
Our independent research courses allows students to gain academic credit and research proficiencies in biological science labs on River Campus or at the Medical Center during the fall and spring semesters.
BIOL/NSCI/CHEM/BCH* 395/395W: Independent Research courses are hypothesis-driven research experiences. Students work with University of Rochester teaching faculty to design a project that aligns faculty's overarching research goals of their laboratory.
*The course prefix is determined by the supervising faculty member’s appointment.
Projects are usually hands-on and non-clinical in nature. Students typically use laboratory and computational experimentation to gather and analyze primary data.
At the end of the semester, students must work with their instructors to write a final report or poster. In addition, students must upload a copy of the report or poster to Blackboard.
See the independent research page for more information on how to get started.
de Kiewiet Summer Research Fellowships
Junior declared biology majors can apply to the deKiewiet Summer Research Fellowship Program to gain experience in the laboratories of biological science labs on the River Campus or at the Medical Center.
Students find members of the UR teaching faculty who will agree to oversee the writing of a research proposal and supervise the project the following summer.
Projects must be biological and non-clinical in nature.
See the de Kiewiet Summer Research Fellowships page for more information on the application process and requirements.
Honors in Research / Defending a Senior Thesis
Declared biology majors with exceptional quality non-clinical research and a minimum biology GPA of 2.7 have the option to write and defend a thesis in their fourth year to earn honors in research upon graduation.
Interested students apply for candidacy in March and will have until the first Friday in May to defend.
To qualify for candidacy, students must have developed a novel body of work from research data gathered through independent research, internships, and positions internal and external to the U of R as long as a UR Teaching Faculty member agrees to oversee the thesis writing and defense.
The writing of the senior thesis must be derived from the data of research projects that are hypothesis driven and non-clinical in nature. Thesis cannot be written from data generated from patient studies.
Please note that the overall thesis project and defense committee is subject to the approval of the student's faculty track coordinator for their biology major.
Biology majors interested in writing a thesis must consult with their track coordinators during the preliminary planning stages to ensure projects and defense committees meet program standards.
See the honors in research page for more information on qualifications and the process of defending a senior thesis.
Supporting Professional and Research Competencies (SPARC)
SPARC will help students identify their academic interests and, once they have identified their focus, optimize their undergraduate research experience.
The SPARC pathway is a series of sequential one-credit courses designed to efficiently refine skills in three distinct domains: professional, technical and communication. Not only will developing these skill sets make students a valuable asset to research labs, they will endow them with portable competencies for the 'real world' following graduation. Visit instructions on how to register. For more information about this program, Contact the Office of Undergraduate Research.
International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) BIO 228A&B Course Series
Undergraduate participants in our International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) team design and build their own engineered biological system using DNA technologies over the course of the summer. iGEM projects aim to solve local, real-world problems (for example, engineering bacteria that can break down plastic waste).
Our iGEM team is multi-disciplinary, highly collaborative, and student-managed. The team will travel (conditions permitting) to present their project to an international audience of more than 3,500 biologists from all over the world. To support our team, please visit our giving page.
Learn more about the program:
- iGEM Competition overview page
- How credit for BIO 228A&B applies to UPBM Majors (PDF)
- Course timeline (PDF)
- 2020 iGEM Team Rochester website
- 2021 iGem Team Rochester website
- iGEM official website
Beckman Scholar's Program
The Beckman Scholar's Program provides 15-month mentored research experiences for exceptional undergraduate students in chemistry or biological sciences. The program is guided by core values of research excellence, mentorship, and inclusion. Each year, two UR Beckman Scholars will be selected and receive $21,000 over 15 months in support of their research projects under the mentorship of select UR faculty. Scholars will participate in a number of research-related activities and workshops, and have the opportunity to present their research at the National Beckman Research Symposium.
See the Beckman Scholar’s Program website for more information about the application.