Undergraduate Research

Research in the Department of Biology is done using the most advanced tools, at all levels or biology, and on a broad range of organisms including microbes, fungi, plants, and animals. The Department has a proud history of providing research opportunities for undergraduate students. Students can begin working on research projects with faculty mentors as early as their first year. Research can provide valuable hands-on experience and skills that will help you succeed in your future career or education. Be proactive in your effort to secure a research position. There are many resources available to students interested in becoming involved in research at USU.

Facts and Figures

In 2019, 113 current biology majors reported being involved in undergraduate research, about 11% of all biology students. 

  • The average GPA of undergraduate researchers was 3.62, compared to an overall 3.30 average
  • 41% of undergraduate researchers were women, which means that the 41% of biology majors that are women are well represented in undergraduate research 
  • 67% of undergraduate researchers were seniors
    • 19% were juniors
    • 11% were sophomores
    • 3% were freshmen
  • Over 70% of undergraduate researchers did not do research for class credit
  • On average, half of the undergraduate researchers were in paid positions

Funding Research
There are many opportunities to help you obtain the resources and funding you need to conduct our research as an undergraduate. These grants and funds are awarded to student researchers to fund things such as materials and travel costs.

The Utah State University Office of Research and Graduate Studies provides information about funding your research. These include the Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities (URCO) grant, summer URCO, funding for travel to conferences, and other ways to financially support your research.

Please visit the Office of Research and Graduate Studies website for more information on funding your research

General Information

Ideas to begin Research



Begin your search with the USU website. Many faculty members have web pages describing their research with links or references to the articles they have published. Learn as much as possible about their research. You can also contact graduate students to see if they need assistance with their research project. You may also contact the Research Coordinator for the Department of Biology, Dani Lawrence, for additional help.


Make contact directly with the professors and visit with them during their office hours. Researchers are more likely to accept you in their lab if you are knowledgeable about and interested in their research. When you approach them, summarize what you know about their project and why you are interested. Show enthusiasm for learning more about their specific research, not just doing research in general.


Once you have located research that seems interesting, ask the professor if you can volunteer in the lab. You may be doing menial tasks until the professor knows you are a good fit for the lab. Volunteer jobs often lead to paid positions, but don't expect to be paid from the beginning. However, keep an eye out on websites like Aggie Handshake, as many professors do hire paid laboratory technicians or research assistants.

Overall, being willing to do what it takes, keeping a good attitude, and showing up on time do wonders in forging excellent relationships with professors and graduate students.

Biology 5800
This course allow students to receive credit for conducting undergraduate biology research. For Biology Majors, a maximum of 3 credits from Biology 5800, Undergraduate Research, can be counted towards your upper division biology elective requirements. If you are interested in receiving credit for conducting undergraduate biology research, please fill out the Undergraduate Research Course Authorization Form or come to the Biology Advising office, BNR 101, to pick up a BIOL 5800 form. Please fill out this form with your research mentor and bring the form and any necessary attachments to the advising office. Aside from working in your research mentor's lab for a semester, you will be required to develop and present an undergraduate research poster at the Biology Undergraduate Research Symposium, held each fall and spring.

Undergraduate Research Scholar Transcript Designation
The Undergraduate Research Scholar Transcript Designation is given to more fully recognize the accomplishments of USU's undergraduate researchers, as such accomplishments often occur outside of the classroom and thus outside of regular credit-earning activity. Please have all the information 1-2 months before graduation. Please visit or contact the Office of Research and Graduate Studies for more information.