Biology Undergraduate Research
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 (293/395/495/692). For more information on these opportunities, please explore the descriptions below.
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.
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 due 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.
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 395/395H 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 395/395H 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 395/395H Research Poster application must be completed. It is due the first day of classes.
- After six credit hours of BIOL 395/395H, 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 2 semesters of 395.
- BIOL 395/495 is offered all semesters – Fall, Spring, Summer School I and Summer School 2. 395H is offered only during Fall and Spring.
- 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.
395H requires a GPA of 3.0 or above. Students in BIOL 395H pursue research in the lab, just like students in 395, but they also meet weekly to gain research-related-skills. During the weekly meetings the students analyze scientific papers, engage in scientific writing, and present their research.
Senior Honors Thesis in Biology
The Senior Honors Program in Biology has two primary components:
- Students participate in undergraduate research (BIOL 395) with a Biology faculty, postdoc, or graduate student as their research mentor within a related discipline. The conclusion of their research work will be exhibited in a poster presented in the Genome Sciences Building lobby, as well as a final abstract summarizing their research.
- Students complete 692H, the culmination of their previous semesters of research – a written thesis (minimum of 10 pages) and participation in the Koeppe Biology Honors Symposium. Read more about the symposium and the students that earned honors in Biology this semester.
* Enrollment in the honors program is not restricted to those who have participated in UNC Honors Carolina.
Eligibility for the Honors Program requires:
- An overall cumulative GPA of at least 3.0
- A Biology GPA of at least 3.0 based on grades from your current semester
- In process or completion of 3 credit hours of BIOL 395
- Thesis statement, to be submitted with your BIOL 692H application
To apply, submit your Honors Program application to Summer Montgomery.
- BIOL692H may be taken in your penultimate or final semester
- For the Fall BIOL692H apply by 5:00 p.m., Friday, April 14th
- For Spring BIOL692H, apply by 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 15th
Frequently Asked Questions
The best first place to start is to explore the following website, to contact labs of your interest and to ask about an available position https://bbsp.unc.edu/research-and-faculty/research-areas/
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 explanation 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.
Identifying a faculty mentor.
Lab work within the faculty mentor’s lab – approximately 10 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.
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.
Dr. Gidi Shemer
Director of Undergraduate Research
213A Coker Hall
Undergraduate Student Services Manager
213 Coker Hall
If you are interested research opportunities through our Honors Program, more information can be found here.