Research Opportunities

The Division of Biological Sciences actively encourages its undergraduates to do research on campus. Research experience allows for hands-on application of concepts and knowledge learned in the classroom and gives students the opportunity to work alongside scientists. Research experience also prepares students for graduate and professional study as well as careers that place a high value on critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Hours and Credit

Students can enroll in either BIO_SC 4950/4952, Undergraduate Research in Biology, or BIO_SC 4950H/4952H, Honors Research in Biology.

Students may receive 1-3 hours of credit for BIO_SC 4950/4952 or BIO_SC 4950H/4952H per semester up to a total of 12 credit hours. Upon completion of a total of 6 hours, 3 credit hours can be applied as a biology major elective credit toward a BA or BS in Biological Sciences. Any remaining hours can be applied as general elective hours toward graduation.

In general, students should expect to spend, at a minimum, 4-5 hours per week per credit hour during the academic year (8-10 hours per week per credit hour during the summer) on their research projects. The actual time commitment will be determined by what is required scientifically and may vary considerably.

Process and Deadlines

Students must receive a permission number to enroll in either BIO_SC 4950/4952, Undergraduate Research in Biology, or BIO_SC 4950H/4952H, Honors Research in Biology. To receive this permission number, students must follow the steps and deadlines outlined below.

BIO_SCI 4950/4952, Undergraduate Research in Biology

Prior to enrolling in BIO_SCI 4950/4952, Undergraduate Research in Biology, students should

  1. Have an overall GPA of 2.75 or greater
  2. Review and complete the Identify Your Research Interest handout (optional)
  3. Meet with the department’s Director of Undergraduate Research by February 1 (spring semester) or by September 10 (fall semester) to discuss your intended research project and to be added to the course Canvas site.
  4. Complete and submit a Guidelines and Agreement Form (available on the course Canvas site). This form must be signed and completed by the “Last day to drop a course without a grade” in order to get a permission number to enroll in the course.
BIO_SCI 4950H/4952H, Honors Research in Biology

Prior to enrolling in BIO_SCI 4950H/4952H Honors Research in Biology, students should

  1. Have an overall GPA of 3.3 or greater
  2. Review and complete the Identify Your Research Interest handout (optional)
  3. Meet with the department’s Director of Undergraduate Research to discuss your intended research project and to be added to the course Canvas site.
  4. Complete and submit an Honors Research Application (available on the course Canvas site) before February 1 (spring semester) or before September 10 (fall semester), and
  5. Complete and submit a signed Guidelines and Agreement Form (also available on the course Canvas site). This form must be signed and completed by the “Last day to drop a course without a grade” in order to get a permission number to enroll in the course.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate in undergraduate research?

All students can get involved in research; however, not everyone can get credit for doing so.

If you want to do research for credit, then you must meet certain GPA requirements. You must have an overall GPA of 2.75 or greater to enroll in Undergraduate Research in Biology (BIO_SC 4950/4952) and an overall GPA of 3.3 or greater to enroll in Honors Research in Biology (BIO_SC 4950H/4952H).

If you don't meet these GPA requirements to do research for credit, you can still get involved in research. Some students work in a lab as a volunteer, as a paid intern, or as a student worker. What form your experience takes will depend on you, your mentor, and your GPA standing within the department.

Do I have to do research with a professor in Biological Sciences?

No. You can work with any research active faculty member, in any department – based on your having identified them as a research mentor and assuming they are willing to have you in their lab.

Our students often do research with labs in BiochemistryMolecular Microbiology and ImmunologyNutrition and Exercise PhysiologyPathology and Anatomical SciencesPlant SciencesPsychological Sciences, and Veterinary Pathobiology.

If I am doing research with a professor in a different department, can I still get credit in Biological Sciences for this research?

Yes. You can work with any research active faculty member, in any department – based on your having identified them as a research mentor and assuming they are willing to have you in their lab.

Why should I do research?

As a student, you have the opportunity to learn a lot about biology in your classes. It is also important, however, that your scientific education include learning not just what we know, but how we know it, and how the scientific process is used to generate new knowledge. You can be part of the process of creating new knowledge by participating in a research project under faculty supervision and earn academic credit for doing so. We strongly encourage this hands-on research experience!

What is the difference between BIO_SC 4950/4952 and BIO_SC 4950H/4952H?

BIO_SC 4950/4952 is Undergraduate Research in Biology.

BIO_SC 4950H/4952H is Honors Research in Biology.

Both courses are similar in that you are expected to have your own personalized research project that you will design in consultation with your faculty mentor and to spend 4-5 hours per week per credit hour during the academic year (8-10 during the summer) working on your project.  Both are 1-3 hours of credit up to a total of 12 credit hours.

BIO_SC 4950/4952 requires that you have an overall GPA of 2.75 or greater.

BIO_SC 4950H/4952H requires a GPA of 3.3 or greater. You are also required to complete and submit an Honors Research Application prior to enrolling and to present your research at a public research forum or in a paper prepared in the form of a scientific journal article.

Why should I take Honors Research in Biology (BIO_SC 4950H/4952H)?

The Honors Research in Biology option allows qualified students to graduate with Departmental Honors, a distinction noted on the diploma and transcript. 

You can read more about the requirements and benefits of earning departmental honors.

Can I use my research experience as my Capstone class?

Yes. You have to enroll in BIO_SC 4950/4952 or BIO_SC 4950H/4952H. You must complete at least 6 credit hours of undergraduate research with a grade of C- or greater, and your research must conclude with a poster presentation and/or a written report. The second course in the sequence must be completed within the last 45 hours of enrollment before graduation. The presentation can be part of an on-campus meeting or a regional or national meeting of a scientific society.

Can research credits be used as elective credits?

Yes. Upon completion of a total of 6 credit hours, 3 credit hours may be applied as biology major elective credit toward a BA or BS in Biological Sciences. Any remaining hours may be applied as general elective hours toward graduation.

What opportunities are there on campus to present my research?

The following are the most common events at which undergraduates showcase their research.

I have more questions. Who can I talk to for more information?

If you have additional questions after reading through this website, you can email biohonors@missouri.edu to schedule an appointment with the department’s Director of Undergraduate Research. 

Your academic advisor also can answer many other questions you may have about doing research as an undergraduate.

If you’d like to know more about doing research from a student perspective, you can meet with a Research Ambassador from the Office of Undergraduate Research. Research Ambassadors are Mizzou students who are currently involved in research. Several Research Ambassadors are Biology majors.

Contact

Dr. Pamela Brown
Director of Undergraduate Research
Division of Biological Sciences
423 Tucker Hall
Columbia, MO

Email for Appointment
biohonors@missouri.edu