Conducting Undergraduate Research in the Biology Department

Step 1. Contact the professor of the lab that you are most interested in. All professors in the Biology Department are listed on our website, and you can click on each member’s name to read more about their area of research focus. You may want to reach out to a a faculty member whose class you took, or to a faculty member who you do not know, but whose research looks interesting to you. In your email to the professor, let them know what interested you in their lab and ask to set up a meeting to discuss the possibility of working in their lab sometime in the future. Please reach out to them ahead of time, NOT during the semester that you hope to start doing your research.

PRO TIP: Plan Ahead! Planning our your research one year in advance year ahead is a great idea (it is never too early!). Do not wait until your senior year to get started with your planning.

Step 2. If the professor has availability in their lab, meet with them to discuss the logistics of doing research with them. Find out: what semester(s) can you participate in undergraduate research with them?, what possible projects could you work on with them?, and what days/times of the week do you forsee being available to work on your research project? At the end of this conversation, you aim to come away with an agreement with a professor for a particular semester in which you can join their lab.

Step 3. Follow up with that professor to ask for their assistance in getting you registered for their section of Bio390 or Bio391. Students sign up for Bio391 (Independent Research) when they intend to learn a skill and at some point work independently on the research. Bio390 (Mentored Research) introduces the technology and techniques of research. You will need permission from the instructor to sign up for their section of Bio390 or Bio391. The professor will either give you a POI number or will ask you for your Wake ID number so that they can manually sign you up for their section. Importantly, you cannot pre-register for any Bio39X course. You will need to work this out with a professor outside of the pre-registration process.

Step 4. Confirm that you are registered for the correct section of Bio391 (make sure it lists the professor that you intend to work with)

Step 5. Reach out to the professor at the start of the semester to be sure that you have set meeting times and plans for when you are able to work on your research project.