Wittenberg's Biology Department has a deep commitment to student research. We encourage students to engage in one-on-one research opportunities with faculty throughout their college career. These experiences are especially important for students who plan to apply to graduate school programs, as many require previous research experience. Students have the option of participating in an ongoing project with a faculty member or creating their own research project. These projects vary both in scope and topic to suit the needs of the individual. Students can conduct research during the academic year or seek internal funding to conduct their research during the summer. Many students begin research as early as their sophomore year, and more than half of our Biology majors complete independent research projects with faculty mentors before they graduate.
What kinds of research opportunities are available for Biology students at Wittenberg?
The Wittenberg faculty is active in research across campus and the Biology department leads the way in student research. Students can work with our faculty during the academic year and in the summer. Your challenge is to find a project that is of interest to you and a faculty mentor with whom you want to work closely.
Students also often complete smaller research projects as part of their coursework for a significant number of biology courses. These projects often take 3-8 weeks of laboratory time to complete, and include the collection, analysis of data, and presentation to the class. Some of these projects are suitable for students to publish abstracts of their work and present their findings at regional scientific meetings.
What kinds of funding are available for independent research at Wittenberg?
Wittenberg offers competitive grants to support student research both during the academic year and the summer through our Student Development Board and the Biology Department.
- Academic year: $250 equipment and material grants are available
- Summer: $3000 grants (can include stipend, living expenses, and materials & equipment)
The Biology Department has additional funds available to foster student research at Wittenberg as well, and we typically supplement summer research grants from the University with an additional $1000 stipend. For more information on applying for a Biology grant award, click here.
How do I initiate an independent research project?
Initiating a research project with a faculty member is relatively easy. You might begin by looking at the departmental webpage to get an idea of research being conducted by faculty in our department. If you find a faculty member who is doing research in an area that you find interesting, go and speak with that person. If the faculty member has room in his or her research laboratory for another student, you have initiated a collaboration with that faculty member!
What is the time commitment involved in conducting an independent research project?
The time commitment varies widely by discipline and experimental protocol. Some are very time intensive and require your presence at specific times while other projects are more flexible and allow you to come and go as your schedule permits. Be clear with your research mentor when you talk about the required time commitment to ensure that neither of you become frustrated as your project proceeds.
Can I receive academic credit when conducting independent research?
Yes! To receive academic credit for your research project, discuss signing up for the Directed Research course with your faculty research mentor. This option allows you to sign up for 1-5 semester hours of credit, and the course will appear on your official transcript.
Can my independent research project fulfill the research requirement for University or Departmental Honors?
Absolutely! If you meet the GPA and other requirements for University Honors, Departmental Honors, or both, the research you do with your faculty research mentor will fulfill the research requirement for those programs. The same research project can generally be applied to both University and Departmental Honors, if the student is eligible for both.
Are there opportunities to present my research to others?
Students often present their findings at Wittenberg’s Celebration of Learning poster sessions. In many cases, students present their research at regional or national meetings as well. These venues are a great way for students to meet fellow researchers and further distinguish themselves as they look forward toward graduate school after graduation.
What independent research opportunities are available regionally and nationally?
There are a variety of schools and programs that invite college students to apply for summer research experiences. Many schools offer summer research programs for undergraduates which they use as a recruiting tool to attract strong students to their programs. Below are some websites that might help you as you look for summer research opportunities away from Wittenberg.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)
- Society for Developmental Biology
- Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF)
- List of Summer Opportunities (list maintained by the Biology Department)