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The Department of Biology encourages side-by-side research with faculty, postdoctoral associates, and graduate students. Conducting hands-on research in one of our laboratories will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of the biological sciences, and will better prepare you for graduate school.

The application deadlines vary according to which research program you are applying (395/495/211/692). For more information on these opportunities, please explore the descriptions below.

BIOL 395/395H/495

Undergraduate Research in Biology

Prerequisites: Must have completed BIOL 201 or 202, and have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher

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 posted in the Genome Sciences Building lobby and students are required to be at their poster at a designated day/time towards the end of the semester to discuss their research.
  • 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).
  • Students must take 495 after taking either of these combinations: 295 (2 semesters), or 395 (2 semesters), or 295 and 395 (1 semester each), or 211 and 395 (1 semester each).
  • 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.

After your research has been approved by Dr. Shemer, the Biology Registrar will register you.

BIOL 211

Introduction to Research in Biology

Prerequisites: Must have completed BIOL 201 or 202. Not open to seniors. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite.

Credit Hours:  3

Counts as: counts as one lecture course toward fulfillment of major requirements; 3 hours of BIOL 211 + 3 hours of BIOL 295/395/395H may be counted as one lecture course with laboratory toward fulfillment of major requirements. Students with BIOL 211 credit may take a maximum of three hours of BIOL 395.

Seminar based on current investigations at UNC. Students examine sources of scientific information, explore the logic of investigation, and develop proposals.

BIOL 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.


Senior Honors Thesis

GPA requirement. Biology majors/2nd majors must be in the last semester of their senior year at UNC.  You don’t have to be a student in the honors program to take BIOL 682H. You must have an overall CUM GPA of at least 3.300  and a BIO GPA of at least 3.300 based on grades from your current semester.  All final grades used to determine GPA eligibility must be posted by the end of the semester in which you are applying.  This is defined as the date all grades are due to the Registrar (72 hours after the last scheduled exam).  GPAs must meet the minimum 3.300 and can’t be rounded up.  The Bio GPA must include all cross-listed BIOL courses and one semester of BIOL 395 (your most recent 395 grade).  Do NOT count BIOL 101 and BIOL 101L in calculating your Bio GPA.  All candidates must be approved by the Biology Honors Chair, Dr. Amy Shaub Maddox.

Research requirement. Students must have completed at least 3 credit hours of BIOL 395.

Thesis statement requirement.  On a separate sheet of paper to be submitted with your BIOL 692H application, answer ALL of the following (typewritten, please):

1. Proposed thesis title

2. Rationale for the research in the form of background on the subject and  “but it was not known whether . . .” (1-2 sentences)

3. Central hypothesis (1 sentence)

4. Methods that you employed and Findings (3-4 sentences).

5. Predicted relevance to ecology, human health or other broader impacts (1 sentence)

6. Relevance to long-term career goals (1 sentence)

Senior Honors thesis expectations:  The honors thesis is the culmination of high quality research performed in the preceding semester(s) of undergraduate study.  The products of BIOL 692H are a written thesis (minimum of 10 pages) and an oral presentation.  The BIOL 395 paper or poster will serve as a first draft for the honors thesis.  Beginning early in the semester, the class will work in teams to refine each written thesis and prepare oral presentations.  Thus, new results should not be counted on to go into the honors thesis.  Instead, the research findings that comprise the written and oral theses should be completed before the start of the last semester of undergraduatecoursework.  However, extension of that research can and should be going on in parallel to the preparation of the written and oral presentations in BIOL 692H.  Research should continue in the same lab as for BIOL 395.

Senior Honors thesis course (BIOL 692H). BIOL majors/2nd majors can BIOL 692H in their final semester at UNC.  In addition to doing your research, presenting your research in an oral talk and writing a senior honors thesis paper, you also need to attend the BIOL 692H class.  Students receive a letter grade for BIOL 692H and also will get the designation of Highest Honors or Honors added to their transcript.

Enrollment. To enroll in BIOL 692H students should fill out a application from Summer Montgomery, Biology Registrar ( in 213 Coker Hall. Please note that if your research involves working with infectious agents, you will need to complete an IA form with your application.  If you are graduating in December, your application is due by 5 PM on Friday, April 14, 2017.  If you are graduating in May, your application is due by 5 PM on Wednesday, November 15, 2017. You don’t have to submit an internal transcript.  After your CUM & BIOL GPAs have been verified and your application has been approved, the Biology Registrar will register you.  If your grades don’t make the minimums, you can continue doing research in BIOL 395 or 495.  If you decide  you want to drop BIOL 692H, please email Dr Maddox by the end of the first week of classes.

Written work. BIOL 692H students must write an Senior Honors Thesis (minimum of 10 pages) based on the independent research project.  Your thesis will be stored electronically in the Wilson Library repository.

Symposium presentation. BIOL 692H students must present and defend their thesis research during the John K. Koeppe Biology Undergraduate Research Symposium.  The exact day/time  you will give your presentation will be assigned within the first 4 weeks of class.  Two graders will independently evaluate the content and presentation of your work.


When am I eligible?
After you complete BIOL 101 and 102 and maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. Before you can register for BIOL 395/395H/495 you must find a willing mentor.
How do I find a research mentor?
Start searching for your research mentor approximately 2-3 months before applying/registering – it can be time consuming to find the right mentor, and to allow time for the prospective mentor to respond to your inquiry.

The best first place to start is to explore the Office for Undergraduate Research’s Database of Research Opportunities using “biology” in the search field.

You can also identify mentors in Biology by reviewing the research section of our website.

Once you have identified a potential mentor, send them a professional email containing your resume, available hours, relevant skills, experience, and interests, along with a short written essay about why you would like to work in their lab. We highly recommend that you contact multiple prospective mentors to increase your chance of finding a research opportunity.

What are the requirements for 395?
Requirements are based on a 3-credit course and include:

Identifying a faculty mentor.

Lab work within the faculty mentor’s lab – approximately 9 hours per week in the fall or spring.

At least 10 pages of scholarly work.

At least 4 meetings per semester with your faculty advisor.

Weekly meetings with direct supervisor.

How do I apply for 395 credit?
See Summer Montgomery in Coker 205 for the 395 application.
How do I share my research?
Participating in undergraduate research is a great way to start, but you can share your research and prepare yourself for graduate school and a career in Biology by:

Completing 692H/Senior Honors Thesis

Find a conference to present a poster of your research

Publish your research in a journal

Ask your mentor how to find these opportunities.

Contact Information

Dr. Gidi Shemer
Director of Undergraduate Research
213A Coker Hall
(919) 962-0684