Biology Research Opportunities

The Biology Department at St. John Fisher College strives to give all of our interested students the opportunity to conduct independent research under the guidance of a faculty member, the Primary Investigator or PI.

Working with that PI, students develop a research proposal that must be approved by the department chairperson. Upon approval, students work closely with their PI to conduct, analyze, and write-up their project.

All research projects must include a summarizing project that is often in the form of a written paper, but may also be fulfilled as a poster or oral presentation at a scientific meeting.

Please read this entire page before starting the research application process.

Identifying Potential Research

Our faculty cover a wide range of fields within biology, and are excited to work with students in their research programs. On each faculty member's profile you will find a brief overview of their area of expertise and a more in-depth description of the ongoing projects. Some faculty have identified projects for which they are seeking a student collaborator. However, you should seek out your major interests first while keeping a second and third choice in mind. Talk to your classmates about their research experiences as well.

It is extremely important that you discuss potential research will all of the faculty that interest you. Go to office hours or make an appointment. Note that some faculty effectively have prerequisites for their research, e.g., you must have previously taken cell biology.

Things to keep in mind

  1. Don't wait until junior year to think about potential research. While most students conduct research as seniors, some researchers prefer to start students in their junior year. Additionally, it may take time to line up the necessary pieces to have a project commence (e.g., grants) so talking to a professor early may facilitate your project a year or more down the road.
  2. Start this process early in the semester before you intend to conduct your research. Intent forms are due by the end of the first week of course registration for the following semester, so you may need to think more than just one semester ahead.
  3. Three credits of BIOL 498 may be used to fulfill one of your major elective requirements for your degree. Additional research credits will not count towards major elective credit.
  4. Working with vertebrate animals requires the permission of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Be sure to work with your advisor on the IACUC submission well in advance of your project; one month in advance should be sufficient.
  5. All undergraduate researchers are required to complete Laboratory Safety Training before starting their research. This training is above and beyond the training given to laboratory classes and is absolutely required. See the Laboratory safety page and Mrs. Gantress for training.

How to Setup Your Research

Research course credit is given as BIOL 498. To conduct research, you must first identify a potential PI(s) (see Identifying Potential Research above) and fill out and submit a BIOL 498 Intent Form [pdf] by the end of the first week of course registration for the upcoming semester. This form is submitted to Dr. Herman, the Undergraduate Research Coordinator, and will notify the department of your intent to conduct research. This will allow the department to match both students and faculty. It is possible that space constraints may preclude your first choice, so please keep a backup PI in mind. Once matched, you will then be given an override to register for BIOL 498 placeholder.

As an undergraduate researcher, you will then prepare a research proposal under the guidance of your PI. Research proposals should conform to the standard set out in the Undergraduate Research Proposal Guidelines [pdf]. Please consult the PDF for a full description. In brief, proposals will contain Learning Goals, Specific Expectations, Outcomes, and Assessments, and a detailed description of the project.

Additionally, you must fill out the Independent Study/Tutorial Authorization Form [pdf]. Four copies of the proposal and the I/T Authorization Form should be submitted to the PI for a signature. The PI will then submit the paperwork to the department chairperson no later than 1 week before the date specified by the Registrar as the last day to add a 3 credit Independent Study/Internship (see the Academic Calendar).

You should consult with your academic advisor regarding course loads while conducting research. For each research credit hour, 3 hours of laboratory or field time per week is required. Thus, a 3 credit BIOL 498 commitment entails 9 hours per week of work in the lab or field. Because of this time commitment, the department strongly recommends you take a maximum of 15 total credit hours (including the research) when conducting research.

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