Undergraduate Research

Can undergraduates become involved in “real” science at Missouri State?

Yes! Biology faculty are practicing scientists with active research laboratories. Undergraduates can assist with ongoing projects or may work with a faculty supervisor to develop their own research projects.

What are the benefits of participating in undergraduate research?

What could be more exciting than discovering information about the world that no one else knows? Researchers gain hands-on experience with laboratory and field techniques, experimental design, and data analysis, and sometimes gain access to equipment not available to students in laboratory courses. Some projects result in student-authored publications in scientific journals and presentations at local, state, and national scientific meetings. In addition, students can receive up to 3 hours of academic credit for undergraduate research (BIO 499). It’s not a good idea to pursue research opportunities just to build your résumé, but research experience does look great on applications for jobs or admission to graduate or professional schools! 

Is undergraduate research limited to academic over-achievers?

No! The main criteria are that the students are self-motivated, have a sincere interest in the research topic, and are willing to devote considerable time to completion of the project.

Is undergraduate research something that all students should pursue?

Undergraduate research is not for everyone. Participation may be impractical for students who are struggling academically, who have poor time management skills, or who are heavily involved with extracurricular activities, jobs, or other time-consuming obligations. Some students may not have the interest or motivation necessary to be successful at undergraduate research.

What project topics are available and how can I become involved?

Faculty research interests are listed on the faculty web page.  Examples of research specialties include cell biology, microbiology, genetics, immunology, physiology, terrestrial and aquatic ecology, systematics, evolutionary biology, and biology education.  Find an area that interests you and ask appropriate faculty members about opportunities for undergraduate research.  Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find a sponsor right away.  Talk to your TA’s and other students involved in research as well.  If you are persistent, and if you cultivate relationships with your professors and TA’s, you will eventually find the right opportunity.