Research Opportunities

The Division of Biological Sciences actively encourages its undergraduates to take advantage of the many research opportunities available on campus.

Research experience allows for hands-on application of concepts and knowledge learned in the classroom and gives students the opportunity to work with and get to know scientists who are among the best in their fields. 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 may receive 1-3 hours of credit (BIOSCI 4950/4952 or BIOSci 4950H/4952H) up to a total of 12 credit hours.

Upon completion of a total of 6 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. As a general rule of thumb, students should expect to spend at minimum 4-5 hours per week per credit hour on their projects, although the actual time commitment will be determined by what is required scientifically and may vary considerably.

Application Process

To initiate and complete the Undergraduate Research program in Biological Sciences, students should follow these steps:

Step 1: Identify a faculty member who will agree to be your research mentor.

Identify a faculty research mentor and, in consultation with him or her, a research project for which you have primary intellectual and technical responsibility. The faculty member does not have to be in the Division of Biological Sciences, but the research must be in the area of the life sciences.

Although opportunities to conduct undergraduate research are occasionally advertised via flyers or listservs, generally students must contact individual faculty to inquire about research opportunities for credit. The Office of Undergraduate Research, which serves as a central resource for research opportunities on campus, offers some tips on getting started as an undergraduate research intern.

Step 2: Schedule an appointment to talk with the Director of Undergraduate Research

The Director of Undergraduate Research for the Division of Biological Sciences will ensure the scope of your project is appropriate for research for credit and/or departmental honors and can answer questions you have about the process or requirements for completion. For those pursuing honors credit, this meeting also will ensure your research application (see below) is appropriately constructed and allow you to gather any other information you need on the scope and expectations of honors research.

If you have a GPA of at least 3.3 and completed or currently enrolled in 20 credit hours of course work in Biological Sciences, Chemistry, and Physics, then you are eligible to earn departmental honors for research, go to Step 3.

If you are planning to complete research for credit without departmental honors, go to Step 4.

Step 3: Complete Honors Research Application

If you have a GPA of at least 3.3 and completed or currently enrolled in 20 credit hours of course work in Biological Sciences, Chemistry, and Physics, then you are eligible to earn departmental honors for research.

To apply for honors research — that is, BioSci 4950H or BioSci 4952H — you must first complete and submit the Honors Research Application. This application consists of a structured abstract of the project on which you plan to work.

The completed form should be emailed to biohonors@missouri.edu by February 1 (spring semester) or by September 10 (fall semester).

Step 4: Complete Guidelines and Agreement Form

Whether you are planning to enroll in BioSci 4950/4952 (that is, non-honors research) or BioSci 4950H/4952H (that is, honors research), then you must complete the Guidelines and Agreement for Undergraduate Research form.

This form requires signatures from your research mentor, the Director of Undergraduate Research, and your academic advisor [[link to Advising page]] in that order. The form must be signed by all parties by the “Last day to drop a course without a grade” in order to register for BioSci 4950/4952 or BioSci 4950H/4952H for the current semester.

Step 5: Enroll in BIO_SCI 4950/4952 or BIO_SCI 4950H/4952H

Once your academic advisor has signed your Guidelines and Agreement form, you will be given a permission number to enroll in BioSci 4950/4952 or BioSci 4950H/4952H.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can be involved in undergraduate research?

Anyone can be involved in undergraduate research! There are many ways to be involved, from volunteering in a lab, to receiving credit or departmental honors for research in biology. Which form your experience takes will depend on your mentor and your standing within the department.

Who can I do research with?

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.

What are the goals of the research experience?

As a student, you have the opportunity to learn a lot of 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’s the difference between Bio_Sci 4950/4952 and Bio_Sci 4950H/4952H?

Bio_Sci 4950/4952 is Research in Biological Sciences. Bio_Sci 4950H/4952H is Honors Research in Biological Sciences.

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 working on your project.  Both are 1-3  hours of credit up to a total of 12 credit hours.

The Honors Research course (Bio_Sci 4950H/4952H) requires that you present your research, orally or as a poster, at a public research forum or in a paper prepared in the form of a scientific journal article. The Honors Research Course also requires you to complete and submit an Honors Research Application.  The pre-requisites for the Honors course is also higher: you need an overall GPA of 3.3 or greater to enroll in Bio_Sci 4950H/4952H.

Why should I take Honors Program in Biological Sciences (Bio_Sci 4950H/4952H)?

The Honors Program in Biological Sciences allows qualified students to graduate with departmental honors, a distinction noted on the diploma and transcript.

Read more about the requirements and benefits of earning departmental honors.

Can I use research experience as a Capstone experience?

Yes. You have to enroll in Bio_Sci 4950/4952 or Bio_Sci 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 symposium 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.

Are there any research programs that include paid assistantships?
What opportunities are there on campus to present research?

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

I have more questions. Who can I contact to get more information?

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

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

Contact

Dr. David Schulz
Director of Undergraduate Research
Division of Biological Sciences
105 Tucker Hall
Columbia, MO

Email for Appointment
biohonors@missouri.edu