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Research Courses


All research courses are restricted to the Biology majors/2nd majors only.

Biology 395/495  – Undergraduate Research in Biology

Prerequisites: Must have completed BIOL 201 or 202.  CUM GPA of 3.0 or better.

Credit Hours:  Variable (1-3)

Counts as: Experiential Education credit. 3-5 credit hours of research may be counted as one lecture course toward fulfillment of major requirements; 6 credit hours may be counted as one lecture course with laboratory toward fulfillment of major requirements.  BIOL 495 does NOT count as an upper level course towards the major.

BIOL 395 may be taken for no more than six graded academic credits. Additional semesters of research are taken as Biol 495, which is taken pass/fail. Additional hours of research course credit will be counted as elective hours toward graduation.  A research application has to be done for each semester of research.  Submit this application/transcript when you are preregistering for classes prior to the start of the semester.

Biology majors/2nd majors taking their second semester of BIOL 395 will be required to prepare a research poster and abstract summarizing their research.  This takes the place of the 10-page paper. These posters will be presented in the Genome Sciences Building lobby at a designated day/time.

The following notation will be added to your official transcript:  “Commendation for Undergraduate Research in Biology.”

A green BIOL 395 Research Poster application must be completed.  It is due the first day of classes.

After six credit hours of BIOL 395, students can continue doing research for credit by signing up for BIOL 495 (pass/fail and 10-page paper required).

BIOL 395/495 is offered all semesters – Fall, Spring, Summer School I and Summer School 2.

The purpose of BIOL 395 is to provide students with research experience while working on a question of current biological interest.  Students will learn how science is practiced in a particular area of scientific endeavor, and will also make new discoveries.  Dr Gidi Shemer ( in 213A Coker Hall  is the director of the 395/495 program.  He reviews all research applications and makes the final approval.  Research is done under the supervision of a full-time faculty member in the Department of Biology or in another department on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus (for example in a medical school department or some other department that does biological research).  Students may enroll for 1-3 credit hours of BIOL 395 in any one semester. Each credit hour represents 3-4 hours of research per week, on average, during the Fall or Spring semester, so that students enrolled for 3 credit hours should spend 10-12 hours or more on the research per week.  During one summer school semester, 1 credit hour is equal to 45 hours of research, 2 credits = 90 hours of research and 3 credits = 135 hours of research.  Normally, students should take BIOL 395 for 3 credit hours.  Requests to register for 1-2 hours requires permission from Dr Shemer, and will granted only for special circumstances.

Students must identify a faculty member in the Department of Biology or in another department on the UNC-CH campus who has agreed to supervise the student’s research. If that person is outside the Department of Biology, the research must address a biological question, and a faculty sponsor from within the department must agree to monitor the student’s research experience. This is done by meeting with the student once per month during the course of the research to discuss the project and the student’s progress. Your sponsor can be a full-time Biology faculty member you have taken a class from or who has some knowledge of the area your research will be about. It is advisable to secure these supervisors well in advance.

A paper research application is required and it is available  from our Biology Registrar, Summer Montgomery  in the Student Services office (213 Coker Hall).  This application and a copy of your internal transcript pulled from Connect Carolina is due on the first day of classes.  No electronic applications will be accepted.  Please get the most updated form from 213 Coker.  There are two parts to the research application – the blue Biology department form and the Learning Contract that is required by the university.  Students whose GPA does not qualify them for Biology 395 may enroll in Biology 295 (see below).  After your research has been approved by Dr Shemer, the Biology Registrar will register you.

BIOL 395H – Undergraduate Research in Biology – Honors Course

Same as BIOL 395, except you have to attend a class that meets weekly. There is no 495H.  Offered in Fall & Spring only.  Enrollment is limited – get your application in early.  If BIOL 395H is full, you can plan to still do your research under BIOL 395.  For questions about BIOL 395H, contact Dr Shemer:

Student instructions – how to pull transcript

Biology Research Grading

Students participating in Biology research courses will be held to a standard as high as, if not higher than, the norm for any other graded course. The grade will be based on three aspects of a student’s performance:

(a) Fulfillment of required hours in the laboratory. Students are expected to spend on average 3-4 hours per week for each credit hour enrolled. Failure to complete the expected number of hours will reduce the grade.

(b) Performance in the laboratory context. Biology research courses are meant to promote student creativity and initiative even in projects that are already well-defined. At a minimum, students should seek to confirm their understanding of the project through discussions and readings, and should learn how to troubleshoot basic problems.

(c) Written report or research poster & abstract. Students must write a paper or abstract describing their research and submit a paper copy (not electronic)  to Summer Montgomery, Biology Undergraduate Assistant in 213 Coker Hall.  These papers/abstracts are due on the last day of classes in all semesters.  For those doing a poster, they must prepare and present their poster at a designated place/day/time.  The final grade will not be given until the signed final paper/abstract is turned in.  The paper should be in the format of a scientific paper, and should contain the following sections: i) an Introduction that describes the rationale for the research and the biological question it addresses; ii) a Methods section describing how the experiments were done; iii) a Results section showing any data obtained; and iv) a Discussion explaining what (if any) conclusions were reached from the experiments. Appropriate literature should be cited. For students who are taking this course to count towards their experiential learning requirement, the paper should be at least 10 double-spaced pages long, including figures and references.  In case you want to present data exceeding the 10-page limit, you can add it as an appendix.  This paper must be reviewed and approved by the research supervisor and, if applicable, the faculty sponsor from the Department of Biology.


Biology 295 – Undergraduate Research in Biology

Credit Hours:  3

Prerequisites: Must have completed BIOL 201 or 202. For students with a CUM GPA lower than 3.0.  Senior and Junior Biology majors only.  Permission of the instructor (Dr. Jennifer Coble) required.

Counts as: Experiential Education credit. 3 credit hours of research may be counted as one lecture course toward fulfillment of major requirements; 6 credit hours may be counted as one lecture course with laboratory toward fulfillment of major requirements.

This course can taken with the approval of Dr Coble.  Note that this is offered in Fall & Spring only.

Dr Jennifer Coble ( oversees all students and assigns the final grades.  There will be 3-4 mandatory class meetings during the semester.

The course requires that you spend 135 hours doing research in a lab or field work setting during the semester and that you write a 10 page paper on either your research experience or on a scientific topic related to your research.

It is the student’s responsibility to find a research lab in which they can do the research required for the course. This may be in the Department of Biology or elsewhere in the University as long as the topic of the research is appropriate for Biology course credit. Research carried out in a location other than UNC is not appropriate for this course and students wishing to do this should register for BIOL 293 instead.  A BIOL 295 research application is available from our Biology Registrar, Summer Montgomery  in the Student Services office (213 Coker Hall), and is due by the first day of classes. The form requires the signature of the research supervisor, and a short description of the planned research project. After you have returned the completed form to Dr Coble and she has approved your research, you will be registered by the department.

Biology 293 – Internship in Biology

Prerequisites: Must have completed BIOL 201 or 202. Permission of the instructor (Dr. Jennifer Coble) required.

Credit Hours:  3

Counts as:  Experiential Education credit. This course does NOT count towards the major.

Note that this is offered in Fall & Spring only.

Dr Jennifer Coble ( oversees all students and assigns the final grades.

The purpose of Biology 293 is to allow students to obtain experience in biological sciences resulting from off campus work. The experience in Biology can be in a research laboratory or field station or a company such as a pharmaceutical company which carries out biological research, or it can be in an educational setting such as a museum or national or state park or forest where the emphasis would be on how to communicate information about biology to the public or to students.  If appropriate, the student can be paid for the work.  Students must identify a place in which to carry out the internship get permission for Dr. Coble in advance (by early November for the spring semester and by early April for the summer or fall semester).  In general, the project should involve hands-on work by the student and not simply observation of someone else doing the work.   The student will need to spend at least 135 hours on the project. At the end of the project the student will write a 10 page paper describing the work on the project in a format to be determined by the sponsor and the course director.   The paper will be approved by the sponsor and the course director. The course grade will be determined by the course director.  A BIOL 293 internship application is available from our Biology  Registrar, Summer Montgomery in the Student Services office (213 Coker Hall), and is by the first day of classes. The form requires the signature of the research supervisor and a short description of your internship.  After you have returned the completed form to Dr Coble and she has approved your internship, the department will register you.


Biology 692H – Senior Honors Thesis in Biology

Credit Hours:  3

Prerequisites: BIOL 395 (minimum 3 credit hours).  Overall CUM GPA at the start of the final semester: 3.300 or better. Biology GPA: 3.300 minimum, including all cross-listed BIOL courses and one BIOL 395 grade – the most recent one. Do not include BIOL 101 and 101L in your Bio GPA.  GPAs must meet the exact minimum – they won’t be rounded up.

Senior majors who are graduating at the end of that semester can take 692H.  Note that this is offered in Fall & Spring only.  There is no BIOL 691H.

This is a course designated and required for Biology students that are candidates for Honors or Highest Honors. Students who have taken a minimum of 3 hours of BIOL 395 can apply for BIOL 692H.  BIOL 692H meets weekly and in a class that provides a series of exercises designed to aid students in preparing their research for evaluation, focusing on four general professional skills: (a) explaining research to different audiences, (b) design of graphical aids, (c) effective writing, and (d) giving a research presentation. Students receive a grade for their work in the course that is separate from their honors grade.

Submit a BIOL 692H research application (pick up a copy in 213 Coker Hall)  to Summer Montgomery.  This application is due Nov 15 for the upcoming spring semester and April 15 for the upcoming fall semester.  NO EXCEPTIONS. If you are graduating in December, your application is due April 15 (usually around fall semester pre-registration).  If you are graduating in May, your application is due November 15 (usually around spring semester pre-registration). You don’t have to submit an internal transcript.  After your CUM & BIOL GPAs have been verified and your application has been approved, Summer will register you.  If your grades don’t make the minimums, you can continue doing research in BIOL 395 or 495. Please pick up applications in 213 Coker Hall.  Note that BIOL 692H is not offered in Summer School. You do NOT have to submit a transcript with your application.