Undergraduate Student Research

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Get involved in life sciences research.

Not only is it essential to your education — especially if you want 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.

Find a research mentor with our search tool.

We offer exciting research opportunities in biomedicine, conservation biology, philosophy of science, genetics, and much more. Search by faculty expertise or concentration to get started.

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What kind of research do we do?

Our undergraduates work side-by-side with faculty mentors, as well as post-doctoral and graduate students, to research a wide range of important life science problems. Explore some of our major research areas, below.

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 


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