Welcome to the Department of Biology

Department of Biology at Illinois State University
Department of Biology
Student holding flower

Undergraduate Research

Research can help you decide about a future career, particularly if you aren't sure what area of biology you are interested in. You can try working in several different laboratories to see what you like best.

Working on a research project is a valuable experience for your resume or applications to professional/graduate schools. It shows that you put extra effort into your education beyond what was required to graduate. It also gives you real "job" experience.

Research Projects

A research project allows you more contact with professors, graduate students, and other undergraduate students. Most professors have a small number of students that work in the laboratory (5-10), so you can get to know your professors on a one-to-one basis.

Benefits of Research:

  • one-on-one contact with Professors
  • apply what you've learned in class
  • work on cutting edge projects involving cancer, Parkinson's disease, stream ecology, and many more!
  • can be a great summer job or internship experience
  • many students travel to scientific conferences

Registration Reminders


Research Scholarships

Many individual professors have positions available for students over the summer or even during the school year. Contact individual professor to see if a position is available. Other scholarships will be announced through this website or watch for flyers in the Science Laboratory Building!

Conduct a Research Project

Professors in the School of Biological Sciences perform research projects as part of their duties here at ISU. Professors and students write research grants and receive funding from local and national organizations to pay for their research. In order to accomplish these projects, faculty work together with graduate and undergraduate students to solve problems and further our knowledge of the living world around us. The School of Biological Sciences is nationally recognized for involving undergraduates in research and encourages your participation. Undergraduate students write scientific papers that are published in journals, travel to national and international meetings to communicate their findings with other scientists, and gain experience working in a particular field of science.

Presenting your research

There are several opportunities available on campus for you to share your research with others. The University hosts the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the spring. Abstracts for posters or talks are due usually in the fall. Check the Undergraduate Research Symposium website for further information. Phi Sigma and the School host an Annual Research Symposium in the spring. Click here to learn more about the Annual Research Symposium. Abstracts for talks or posters are usually due in early spring. A cash award is given for the best undergraduate presentation! You may also consider giving a talk at one of the brown bag seminars. Contact the individual coordinators for more information.

Thesis Option

The School of Biological Sciences has recently instituted a thesis option for all students. During this course of study, students will learn about the proper way to conduct research in a classroom setting, conduct an independent research project and communicate their results. Students must take BSC 293 (Introduction to Undergraduate Research, 2 cr), BSC 290 or 299 (Research in Biological Sciences, at least 3 hours) and BSC 303 (Senior Thesis), in addition to the other graduation requirements. (Note that BSC 303 replaces BSC 304). Completion of the thesis option is indicated on your transcripts.


How do I get started?

You can choose to participate in a research project at any time during your studies at ISU and we encourage you to start early. Generally, faculty start filling spots in their laboratories the same time you are registering for courses. You may take research as a class for credit (BSC 290 or BSC 299 for Honors Students). Forms are available in the School Office at 210 Julian Hall. You may also volunteer for a few hours a week or some professors have paid positions available (see below).

For Freshman, start thinking in about research in the spring. Contact the professor whose lab you are interested in. Click here for a list of faculty members and their research interests. You may have a professor for a course that you liked or you may hear about someone from another student. Ask if the professor has any positions available and ask to visit the laboratory. Some professors will have requirements for GPA, courses, etc so it is important to get that information from them. If you need help in finding a professor to work with, you can also talk with Dr. Nichols or Megan Larson.

What should I expect?

The professor will meet with you and together you will decide on a schedule. Students that are taking research for credit should expect to spend 2-3 hours a week in the lab for every credit hour of class. Each laboratory is different, but your first time working on a research project you will be trained in laboratory safety, how to use equipment properly and the experimental techniques you need to complete the project. There may be other graduate students or undergraduate students in the laboratory to help you as well as the professor.