The JMU Biology Department encourages undergraduate participation in research. Joining a research lab can provide valuable experience, new skills and an insight into what it means to be a biologist.
You must enrol in a research course, which is worth between 1 credit (research literature) and 6 credits (Honors). See more about research credits.
Most faculty in the Biology Department have active research programs that involve undergraduate and/or graduate students. The best way to get involved in research is to find a professor whose research looks interesting to you and go and talk to them about it.
Faculty Research Interests
Cell and Molecular Biology/Biotechnology
How to get involved
First, give some careful thought to the idea. Ask yourself whether or not you've got the time to commit to a research project. Students often ask what kind of time commitment research takes. That's a difficult question to answer because it varies with the type of research project and with the particular faculty mentor you work with. The level of commitment is not unlike that required of a varsity athlete, however, and means that you must budget your time carefully in order to be able to put in the hours required by your research.
Second, Browse the descriptions of faculty research then talk to professors and other students who are conducting research that interests you. Researchers love to talk about their research, so don't be shy. Attend department research seminars (Fridays at 12:20 - watch for posted announcements), and make appointments to talk with individual faculty members about their research.
Third, plan ahead. Think about starting research in your sophomore or junior year. Some faculty like to work with students for two or three years. Others prefer that the student waits until they have had relevant course work before beginning research. Discuss this with the particular faculty member you wish to work with, but don't wait until your senior year. The mechanisms for recieving academic credit for research are listed below. Most students receive credit for independent research in one or more of the following courses:
BIO 495. Biotechniques (0, 4). 1 credit.
Emphasis is placed on theory, methodology and the development of manipulative abilities. Students must notify the biology office of their interest the semester before registration. May be repeated for a maximum of two credits when course content changes. Prerequisites: A biology GPA of 2.5 or greater.
Note: A maximum of 8 hours of credit in BIO 494, 495, 496, 497, 498, 499 and ICSI 450 can be counted toward the major.
Biology majors have two options when they wish to do independent study in a laboratory with a mentor not currently listed as a full time biology faculty member in the James Madison University Catalog.
(1) Register for the independent study/research under the course designator of the mentor's department. Credits taken this way count toward a Major or Minor in that department, if appropriate, and toward the 120 hr Bachelors degree requirement. They do not count toward the 40 hr BIO course requirement for the biology major or the 20 hr BIO course requirement for the biology minor. (Courses applied toward the biology major or minor must have the BIO designator when taken and credit cannot be substituted.)
(2) Register for the independent study/research as BIO 496, 497 or 499 following the standard application procedures for biology independent study. In addition to having the external mentor endorse the project and serve as the person awarding the grade, a biology faculty member will serve as a co-mentor and approve the proposal and the final report as appropriate biology research. In the case of BIO 499, this person will be the second signer on honors program documents. This co-mentor will be currently listed as a full time biology faculty member in the James Madison University Catalog.
If you have more questions, feel free to speak with any faculty member in Biology or see the FAQ page on research.
Undergraduate research profile: