Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Research is an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student under the mentorship of a senior researcher that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.
(Council on Undergraduate Research)

Research experience is valuable because it promotes:

  • Learning by doing – and it’s fun!
  • Skills development, including study design, data collection, computation, analysis of findings, and communication of results.
  • Tangible outcomes such as research abstracts, conference presentations, and manuscripts grounded in real-world experience.
  • Career development opportunities such as professional networking and resume/vitae building.
  • Positive attitudes, habits, and intentions, including research ethics, perseverance, and professionalism.

VCU is proud to host an impressive array of research opportunities for our undergraduate students. In addition to faculty members in Biology, Biology majors can choose to engage in research anywhere at VCU including the Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, and Nursing or at with the Center for Environmental Studies and the VCU Rice Rivers Field Station.

Undergraduate researchers at VCU are frequently presenting their research at VCU, and Regional, and National Research meetings. Some VCU undergraduates have even been recognized by authorship on peer-reviewed scientific papers. VCU also offers the NIH-funded Initiative to Maximize Student Development which VCU Biology students are eligible to apply for.

Students studying Biology at VCU can take advantage of many programmatic opportunities, class based opportunities for academic credit (BIOL395 Directed Study, BIOL492 Independent Study, or Research and Thesis BIOL495), as well as simply volunteering.
In addition many institutions around the country (and even abroad) offer summer based research programs. We encourage students to apply for these! Current opportunities can be found on this blog and the Biology facebook page.

Students should read the following pages describing our class based opportunities and follow our “Finding Research Opportunities” guide for step by step instructions on how to secure a mentor. See our FAQs section to answer all your questions about undergraduate research!

Research can fit into students curriculum of study at many different times. Different classes work for different students depending on their future goals and current degree standing. The chart below provides some crude advice on where those classes might fit best in your program of study.

Advising chart
BIOL395 Directed Study
Freshman – Seniors
BIOL492 Independent Study
Rising Junior-Seniors (Summer before junior)
BIOL495 Research and Thesis
Senior Year Fall and Spring

For more information on undergraduate research at VCU see the Bioadvising portal “Finding Undergraduate Research Opportunities” or the University Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program “UROP”

To discuss your research interests further feel free to email:

Dr Sarah Golding, Director for Undergraduate Research – segolding@vcu.edu

Everything you need to know about studying a BS in Biology at VCU