Undergraduate Student Research

Get involved in life sciences research

Not only is it essential to your education — especially if you aspire to attend graduate or medical school — but it's fun! By working with mentors who are experts in their fields, you'll establish relationships and professional connections that may last a lifetime. 

There are couple ways for you to find research opportunities. One way is to visit the  Handshake platform where professors and employers often post internships and job openings. We frequently add research opportunities to Handshake, so check the website often.

Find a research mentor

Another way to find an undergraduate research mentor is by learning about their work and reaching out to them directly over email. Search the School of Life Sciences faculty for professors who share your general interests. When you have identified some professors, go to their websites or Google scholar to read some of their papers, and learn about their research interests. When you’ve learned about their work, write them a formal email to introduce yourself, and inquire about their interest in taking an undergraduate student (you!) onto their research team. It’s optional, but you might consider attaching your resume, and/or your unofficial transcripts also to help the professor learn more about you. If you don’t hear from the professor within a week or two, it’s not necessarily a sign that the professor is not interested — they are busy and sometimes haven’t had a chance to respond. You might consider following up with a second email to give the professor an opportunity to email you back.

Your email to a professor can be in any form and in should be in your own voice, but generally you’ll want to introduce yourself and your career interests, and indicate that you’ve explored the professor’s area of expertise.

Here is an example email for a Conservation Biology and Ecology student:

Sample Email

Subject: ConBio/Eco student interested in research opportunities

Dear Dr. Xxx,

I am a second-year Conservation Biology and Ecology student, and I am very interested in getting involved in research related to xxx. I have browsed your website and read some of your research papers. I am particularly interested in your work xxxx, but I am also interested generally in learning more about the scientific research process. **Add a few sentences about yourself, and your possible career interests** If you’d like to learn more about me, I’ve attached my resume and unofficial transcripts.

I would appreciate the chance talk with you about your research and about possible research opportunities in your lab. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,
Your name
 

student reading current data

SOLUR Program

School of Life Sciences undergraduates can participate in real-world research beginning their freshman year. Four levels of research proficiency are offered. Sign up today and prepare for a career in the life sciences.

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student talking about his research poster

LEAP Scholars Program

As a transfer student to ASU, you’ll have opportunities to conduct research and maximize your funding. Apply to the LEAP program to be considered for research scholarships.

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researcher measuring a liquid with a syringe

Training in Neuroscience

This mentored research program is focused specifically on minority and underrepresented students in neuroscience. Apply to the WINURE program to learn about neuroscience and get involved in neuroscience-based research labs.

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student discussing her research in front of a research poster

Research Poster Symposium

All undergraduates conducting research in life sciences are invited to attend and present a research poster. This marquee event allows students to hone their communications and public speaking skills, as well as present their research to both fellow scientists and a public audience.

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Biological Sciences

This major includes a tremendous variety of intellectual and research territory. Four concentrations within biological sciences provide exciting and diverse research opportunities.

Animal Physiology and Behavior (BS concentration)

Within this Biological Sciences concentration, research fields range from neuroscience to endocrinology, and behavioral ecology to animal communication. We work together — across these fields — to find new ways of understanding and addressing emerging world problems. Discovery happens both in the laboratory and the field.

Research areas include:

  • Impact of exercise and nutrition on health and fitness
  • Development and aging across the lifespan
  • Resilience and vulnerabilities to disease in response to stress
  • Evolution of complex social systems
  • Sensory physiology and animal communication
  • Brain function during drug abuse relapse
Biology and Society (BS concentration)

In this Biological Sciences concentration, we examine the social context of science. We ask how and why a biological problem has been and should be studied, and explore ways policy shapes biological research. We also investigate the significance of life sciences in understanding our world.

Research areas include:

  • Economic and policy aspects of conservation biology and sustainability 
  • History of embryo research and its relevance to ethical and scientific debates about stem cells
  • Nature of new and emerging areas of biology, such as developmental evolution and synthetic biology
  • Ethical and philosophical issues raised by human and animal experimentation in biology and medicine
  • Social, philosophical and political dimensions of global climate change
Conservation Biology and Ecology (BS concentration)

Ecologists are as diverse as the ecosystems we study. Many areas within this Biological Sciences concentration provide specialized learning opportunities.

Research areas include:

  • Community ecology:
    • Organism interaction within a community, such as plant-pollinator relationships
  • Conservation biology: 
    • Impact of humans on the Earth's biodiversity
    • Developing practical ways to prevent species extinction 
    • Sustainable use of biological resources
    • Causes of degraded ecosystems and ways to reestablish beneficial conditions of rivers, wetlands, grasslands, forests, etc.
  • Ecosystem ecology:
    • Water, nutrient and energy cycling through plants, animals, soils and the atmosphere
  • Landscape ecology:
    • Effects of landscapes and habitat fragmentation on ecosystems
  • Population ecology:
    • Dynamics of particular species
Genetics, Cell and Developmental Biology (BS concentration)

These related fields of study cover a broad array of modern life sciences research.

Research areas include:  

  • How telomerase and chromosome relate to cancer and aging
  • Genetically modified food plants to make them flourish in marginal agricultural lands
  • Cell adhesion and migration underlying pathogenesis in many diseases
  • Developing vaccines for tuberculosis and examining the synergistic effect of tuberculosis with HIV
  • Muscle development and regeneration, and cell therapy for muscle loss
  • Treatments for skeletal disorders including scoliosis and birth defects
  • Examining whether nanoparticles have toxic effects on cells
  • Developing computer-based models to analyze human genes 

Microbiology

In microbiology, we emphasize understanding microorganisms and their relationships with other organisms in nature. We also study the influence of microorganisms in biomedicine and biotechnology.

Research areas include:

  • Microorganisms and viruses that cause disease in humans, animals and plants
  • Genetic manipulation of microorganisms to understand basic biological processes and generate valuable products
  • Nature and microbial life in extreme environments
  • Role of microorganisms in stabilizing the Earth by recycling and detoxifying waste products
  • Genetics and the regulation of immune responses

Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology

Biotechnology is a rapidly growing field with major applications in agriculture, health care and industry. Molecular biology and biotechnology drive advancements in applied research and the development of next-generation biomedical products and biofuels.

Research areas include:

  • Improving crops and vaccine production in plants
  • Seeking better medical therapeutics and diagnostics
  • Creating sustainable solutions for energy, enzyme and chemical production