Undergraduate Research Opportunities
Many students gain experience in faculty research through special-study courses such as independent study, special problems or honors thesis. These courses involve independent study and research under the supervision of a faculty member and can vary in length of credit depending upon the amount of time needed for the project.
Many degree programs in COSAM require that students complete special problems as part of the curriculum. Most programs limit the number of special-problems-course hours that can be counted toward satisfaction of the major requirement. Research programs provide you with independence, peer interaction, team work, real life problem solving, use of your basic sciences knowledge and an opportunity to work one- on-one with a faculty member. Typically students start a project early in their academic careers. The experience is extremely valuable particularly if you are planning on attending graduate school.
How does a student become involved in research?
1. Decide what area is of interest to you. Some research areas are interdisciplinary and may involve two or more areas of science i.e. biophysics, biomath, biostatistics, biochemistry and bioinformatics are but a few examples.
2. View departmental web sites to gain information regarding faculty research profiles and research areas.
3. Select a faculty member and make an appointment to meet with them. Make an effort to talk to more than one faculty member so that you are in a better position to select a mentor that is best for you.
4. One you have selected a mentor and the faculty member has agreed to sponsor you in a directed-research project, you will need to confirm the amount of time you will spend on the project and your start date.
5. Enroll for special problems, independent study or honors thesis - complete any required paperwork required by the department or the Honor’s College.
Can I obtain funds to support my research project?
1. A faculty member may have specific funds in a grant directed to undergraduate research.
2. The department may provide support. Some departments have endowments or funds from program grants to support research experiences for undergraduates.
Biological Sciences - Truelove Fund for Excellence, Dr. Bob Boyd
3. Also, you an apply for a fellowship through either COSAM or the Auburn University Research Program. Either of these programs provide a one-year fellowship on a competitive basis. The details of the program accompany the application form. The programs provide a stipend for the student and a stipend to support the research.
Can I do my research project off-campus in the summer?
1. Yes, many programs offer undergraduate research experiences.
Below is a list that highlights some of the national programs. Most programs recruit students in February for summer slots, so check early.
2. If I do a program off-campus, can I obtain degree credit when I return to campus? Yes, your faculty mentor at the off-campus site will need to contact either Dr. Wit or Dr. Wooten and provide the specifics of your research experience. In addition, you will be required to write a paper on your research upon your return to campus.
List of laboratories with research experiences for undergraduates:
If you are interested in Biotechnology- many biotechnology companies have summer internships.
- In Alabama : Research Genetics (Huntsville)
- Southern Research Institute (Birmingham)
If you are interested in Biomedical research- most medical schools offer summer undergraduate research programs.
Is there an opportunity to present the results of my research?
Many departments in COSAM either independently or as part of a research colloquium offer undergraduates an opportunity to present their findings (check with your home department). In addition, the Graduate Student Council is host to an annual research symposia every spring, and presentations by undergraduates are welcomed. Check with a GSO representative in your department, deadline for abstracts is usually in early February of each year.
Some programs provide students with stipends to attend meetings. Both the Alabama Academy of Sciences and the National Conference on Undergraduate Research have sessions dedicated to presentations made by undergraduates. In addition, many scientific societies have sections dedicated to undergraduate research. Check with your faculty mentor.