We have a strong commitment to involving students, both undergraduate and graduate, in departmental research projects. These experiences provide students with a competitive advantage in future educational endeavors, and research productivity is enhanced by involving enthusiastic students on projects. Undergraduate and graduate students are regularly included as co-authors on peer-reviewed publications.
Undergraduates who have been involved in faculty research projects routinely claim that their research experience convinced them to become biologists and opened important doors for them. Our graduate programs emphasize total immersion in cutting edge research, including federal and state funded projects relevant to regional technology and natural resources.
The more serious students pursue a research project because they have been inspired by a professor who demonstrates exceptional teaching skill in the classroom. These students recognize the potential for further educational experiences with this professor on an individual basis in the research laboratory.
Many students discover research opportunities by word-of-mouth or by summoning the courage to approach individual advisors. Prior to beginning their research project, students often expect that doing research will be identical to a laboratory connected to a course.
Students discover that the research experience far exceeds their expectations. Some of the most dramatic effects of the research experience that students report are conflicting feelings of maturity, self-confidence and humility.
More important than the research topic itself is the issue of compatibility between the student and advisor, and among other individuals working in the laboratory. Advisors who are approachable, patient, treat students as colleagues, make them an integral part of the research program, and recognize their ability to contribute intellectually to the project tend to engender long term commitment and fierce loyalty in their undergraduate students.
Research is an experience that coalesces individual, focused classes into a coherent picture. In the standard undergraduate curriculum, there is no comparable course.
*Excerpts from an article entitled "Undergraduate Research: Why Bother?" by Kebai Emma Gamblin, Anntara Smith and Maureen Brandon, for the Women in Cell Biology Committee of the American Society for Cell Biology. Republished from the ASCB Newsletter, Vol. 23, No. 12, December 2000, with permission from the American Society for Cell Biology.