Getting Started in Research
There are numerous opportunities for student interested in doing research, and getting started can seem overwhelming at first. We recommend using the following steps to get going:
- 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.
See also the Department of Biology's Undergraduate Bill of Rights (pdf).
Below are some of the research opportunities available to students at the University of Rochester.
Students who are interested in working at the Department of Biology may view and apply for job openings via JobLink located on the Student Employment Office website.
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 allow students to gain academic credit and research experience in biological science labs on River Campus or at the Medical Center during the fall and spring semesters.
Independent research courses are hypothesis-driven research experiences where 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.
See the independent research page for more information on how to get started.
Junior 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 University of Rochester 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.
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 an honors in research upon graduation. Interested students can apply for candidacy in March and will have until the first Friday in May to defend.
See the honors in research page for more information on qualifications and the process of defending a senior thesis.
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 also prepare them for the ‘real world’ following graduation. Visit instructions on how to register.
For more information about this program, contact the Office of Undergraduate Research.
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.
The Beckman Scholars Program provides a 15-month mentored research experiences for exceptional undergraduate students in chemistry or biological sciences. The program is guided by the core values of research excellence, mentorship, and inclusion. Each year, two University of Rochester Beckman Scholars will be selected and receive $21,000 over 15 months in support of their research projects under the mentorship of select Rochester 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 Scholars Program page for more information.