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Biology Independent Research

Independent Research in Biological Sciences

The department prides itself in its outstanding undergraduate research program. The culmination of this program is the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium held towards the end of  the spring semester. All biology majors are encouraged to consider independent biological research as part of their degree plan to graduation. All full-time faculty members engage in original research and are enthusiastic about collaborating with students. We also serve as liaisons for students who wish to work with off-campus investigators.


Getting Started

Students are encouraged to start exploring research opportunities no later than the beginning of their junior year.

Find out about faculty research interests – To find out what various faculty are doing you can go on-line and visit the department website to browse recent published works; you can peruse posters of the fourth and fifth floors of Monroe Hall describing recent research of the faculty; or you can speak with current research students.

Make an appointment to meet with faculty members whose research areas pique your interest – These initial conversations are important to find out about specific projects each faculty member has and to determine if individual faculty member’s expectations are compatible with your schedule and desires.

Attend research seminar series – The research seminars bring faculty from many areas of biology to our campus to present their research to us. This is a great way for you to learn about areas of research in biology and perhaps even to connect with a mentor.

Summer internships – There are numerous opportunities nationally to apply for 8-10 week summer research internships in a wide variety of biological disciplines. They usually pay a generous stipend, provide housing, and cover travel expenses. A number of these opportunities are listed on the department website. Consult with a faculty member to find out about earning credit for the internship. IMPORTANT: The application deadlines for many internships are as early as January 15 th. Don’t delay if you are interested!


Earning Research Credit

Consult with a faculty member – Once you have met with a faculty member, you should be able to come to an agreement on how you could earn research credit (BIOL A401 or BIOL A499) working in their lab. The time commitment will vary, but count on 3-6 hours per week per credit hour. Some faculty may require a zero-credit “trial” semester to be sure of your commitment, then compensate you for the credit later. Some faculty members will not take on students unless they commit to do a full honors project (see below). In other labs you may be able to earn a credit or two for Independent Research (BIOL A401 or BIOL A499) while contemplating whether to pursue a full honors project.


Earning Lab Credit 

To receive a biology lab credit (1 of 5 needed to graduate) for research, you must complete 4 credits of BIOL A401 (Independent Research).


Honors Research Requirements

Credit here counts towards your advanced Biology Electives credits

You must maintain a 3.0 GPA in both the major courses and the Loyola cumulative. NOTE: If a 3.0 GPA is not maintained, you can still earn thesis credit but will not receive honors recognition at graduation.

You must complete BIOL A400 (1 credit), BIOL A401 (4 credits), and BIOL A402 (1 credit). Enrollment in each of these courses requires completing the white Independent Study form available in the rack outside the Biology Office (MO 347).

BIOL A400 (1 credit)– Research Proposal - Students work with a faculty research advisor to identify an original question in the biological sciences and develop and write a proposal / prospectus to investigate this question. This course is required of all Biology honors students and students intending to complete a thesis in Biological Sciences.

BIOL A401 (4 credits cumulative) – Independent Research - Students work with a faculty research advisor to conduct theoretical, field, and/or laboratory research. Students may register for one to four credit hours per semester and may enroll in this course in more than one semester, but the cumulative total credit hours earned may not exceed four.

BIOL A402 (1 credit) – Research Thesis - Students work with a faculty research advisor to prepare a written thesis describing their original research, and make an oral presentation at the Undergraduate Research Symposium. This course is required of all Biology honors students and students intending to complete a thesis in Biological Sciences.

Those students that complete an Honors Thesis in Biological Sciences are recognized at graduation and on their transcripts.


Thesis Formatting Requirements

Instructions for formatting your thesis may be found here.