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Biology majors are strongly encouraged to engage in undergraduate research early, on-campus and off-campus. Many students complete in at least one significant research experience either during the academic year or during summers, and communicate their work professionally and confidently. Several complete a senior thesis.
Where to do Research
At the College:
Several biology faculty at the college engage in cutting edge research that engage students in diverse research problems, including cancer, aging, genetics of organ development, neurodegenerative disease, sexual selection in insects, and ant ecosystems. Interested students should read our individual research blurbs and contact individual faculty to discuss the potential to engage in a faculty-student collaborative research project.
Chicago is exceptionally rich with undergraduate research opportunities in biology because of it internationally renowned medical centers, world-class institutions such as the Field Museum and Chicago Botanic Gardens, and exceptional rich concentration of field study sites because of preservation efforts. Past students have engaged in summer research in biology at the medical schools linked to Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, Rush Medical School, and Loyola University.
At Rosalind Franklin (RFUMS):
Students may be particularly interested in biology research opportunities at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (LFC-RFUMS). To learn more about our unique LFC-RFUMS Summer Fellows program, click here.
How to get a research opportunity
Contact biology faculty advisors to discuss your interest in on-campus or off-campus research opportunities for during the academic year and summer.
Several mechanisms exist to get on-campus research experiences as described here:
Richter Scholar Program
This college-wide program selects 45 first-year students to work with college faculty on independent research projects for ten-week period in the summer after their first year. Each year, some students complete Richter projects in biology and these students sometimes continue to work with their faculty mentor throughout their undergraduate career.
The biology faculty maintain active research laboratories and seek to involve students in their projects. Research Assistants can work with faculty during the academic year as volunteers, as paid research assistants, or for course credit. They can also work in faculty labs during the summer as paid research assistants. Students gain first-hand experience with research design, data collection, analysis, and dissemination of research.
We encourage all biology majors to consider pursuing senior thesis research. This is highly recommended for those who wish to pursue a graduate degree in biology or are planning for medical school. Although occasionally this research is part of a faculty member’s research program, it is typically a student-generated research project. Students interested in senior theses start formulating research ideas in the spring of the junior year, find a faculty member who is willing to advise them on their project, and conduct the thesis research itself throughout the senior year.