Participating in Undergraduate Research in the Biological Sciences is one of the best ways to help yourself mature as a biologist and become as competitive as possible for jobs, graduate school and professional programs. Undergraduate Research is a major focus of the UWW Dept. of Biological Sciences and one of the overall strengths of the University. As such, it is well supported financially and there are tremendous opportunities available to interested students.
What does Undergraduate Research in Biology involve?
Undergraduate Research projects in the Biological Sciences are as varied as the interests of the faculty and students.The process typically begins when a student approaches a Professor s/he is interested in working with and they develop a mutually agreeable project. The student may start by volunteering in the Professor's laboratory to gain basic skills and solidify his/her interest in the project. Students are then encouraged write one or more short grants to support the research. Our students may apply to UWW's Undergraduate Research Program for grants up to $500. Additional funds may be available if international travel is necessary or the student is enrolled in a Biology Honors Emphasis. Supplemental amounts of $500-$1000 (available exclusively to Biology students!) may be awarded for more expensive projects. BBB also offers grant opportunities. Our students have been so successful in acquiring BBB grants that the organization changed the rules to limit the number of grants going to a single school! Students may, with faculty approval, enroll in Biology 498, Biology 498R or 499 (for Honors Thesis students) for 1-3 credits a semester while conducting the research.
Faculty Research Interests
Working with faculty members is a vital part of doing undergraduate research. Students interested in undergraduate research should begin by reviewing faculty research interests and seeing if anything seems appealing. For more information on the research interests of Biological Sciences faculty members, please click here.
Presenting Your Research at a Conference
UW-Whitewater Undergraduate Researchers may submit an abstract to the NCUR or UW-System Undergraduate Research Conference. If accepted, the UW-W Undergraduate Research Program will cover travel expenses to present the student researcher's work. Recent NCUR meetings have been in Maryland, California and North Carolina. If an Undergraduate Researcher is invited to accompany his/her mentor to present at a discipline-specific meeting, there may be travel support available through the UWW College of Letters and Sciences. UWW students have presented at Animal Behavior, Botany, Evolution, and Neuroscience meetings, to name a few.
Publishing Your Research
Increasing numbers of UW Biology students are publishing research with their mentors. Our students have published in Behavioral Brain Research, Biology of Reproduction, Experimental Biology and Medicine, Nature, and other prestigious journals. Starting Undergraduate Research early in your career at UWW (even as a freshman) will increase your chances of being published by graduation. A publication is a tremendous asset for any post-graduate applications.
The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater recently implemented a pilot initiative to support Undergraduate Research during the summer. Offering paid research lab positions to undergrads has made it possible for more students to gain experience, learn new skills, and expand their knowledge base. These students may elect to earn credits while working in research labs. UW-Whitewater also offers research opportunities through the McNair Program and other grant supported projects. Additional summer options may be found through other campuses and state/government agencies. Students interested in research should discuss options with their advisors.