Undergraduate Research in Biology
We encourage all Biology majors and minors to gain experience in research. The Biology Department provides many opportunities to work closely with faculty. Each student seeking a research position should use the resources on this site to identify faculty with whom they have common areas of interest. The next step is to set up a meeting to discuss joining a lab. It is typically most convenient to do this by e-mail. If you are interested in research at the medical school, faculty in the Biology Department can sometimes facilitate a connection there. Other students are also a good source of information about available positions. Many students wait until their senior year to begin research, but we encourage you to consider starting earlier, in your junior, sophomore, or even freshman year.
The requirement for a research experience for the BS degree can be satisfied in one of two ways. Students may take BIO 390 or 391 for credit, or undertake a research project at Wake Forest or elsewhere for which credit is not received. Credit can be received for BIO 390 or 391 from research performed in the Biology Department, at the School of Medicine, or in other relevant departments (Chemistry, Physics, Health and Exercise Science, Psychology, and Computer Science; projects in other departments may be allowed if approved by Undergraduate Studies Committee.) A maximum of 4 hours of research in Biology (BIO 390-392) may be applied toward the major, but an additional six hours (BIO 392 – 394) may be taken and applied towards graduation as elective hours.
Research carried out at Wake Forest through the Wake Forest Research Fellowship program, research experiences at other sites, such as a participation in a summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, or other independent research, also satisfy the requirement. A student wishing to satisfy the research requirement through a mechanism other than BIO 390-392 should get approval for the project in advance from his or her major advisor. After completion of the project, the student must fill out a research equivalency form, which is submitted to and must be approved by the advisor. This experience will appear on the transcript and, in the case of BS Biology majors, will satisfy the major requirement, but no credit hours or letter grade will be awarded. In order to qualify as a research experience, students must be actual participants in a research project. Shadowing a scientist or working as a technical assistant in a laboratory does not constitute a research experience.
Biology 390-394: Research in Biology
Students may receive academic credit for work in any of the research laboratories in a science department on the Reynolda Campus or in a laboratory at the WFU School of Medicine. Credit for such work is received by registering for Research in Biology, BIO 390 or BIO 391 which are offered for 2 hours each. A maximum of 4 hours of research in biology credits may be applied toward the major, but an additional 6 hours (BIO 392 – 394) may be taken and applied towards graduation as elective credits. Students who choose one or more of these courses are directed in their studies in the research laboratory of a faculty member, who, working with the student, designs an original research project for independent study by the student. At the end of the semester, the student must write a paper on the experience, in the format of a scientific paper or a poster. This paper should describe the scientific question and the techniques used to address the
To register for independent research students need a POI (permission of instructor) number from the mentoring faculty member (or, in the case of research at the medical school, from their Biology major advisor). It is essential to speak to faculty and establish what lab you will be working in the semester prior to the one in which you plan to do research. Each lab has a finite number of research spots, so advance planning is strongly recommended.