Getting involved in independent laboratory research is a great opportunity. Doing a directed study provides unparalleled hands-on research experience and can help you maintain a strong GPA. In addition, the networking associated with undergraduate research may help you to get letters of recommendation.
Which labs can you choose from?
You can select from any of the departments/programs listed under LAB/RESEARCH EXPERIENCE, Option 1. Directed/Independent Study on our Courses page.
How do I find AND contact a lab?
There are a few ways to find the lab that is a good fit for your interests. We recommend that all students get into a lab as early as they can in their undergraduate career.
• Go to the website of any department listed on our Courses page. A listing of faculty, including their research area is usually under a menu item labeled “Faculty”, “People”, or “Research”. In example is the NTP websites’ Faculty Trainers and Faculty Affiliate pages.
• Check the Discovery Portal to find all faculty on campus that do specific kinds of research. This data base is searchable by keyword, research interest, or even collaborator name.
• Check out WISCIENCE for Online Resources and Undergraduate Research Peer Leaders Drop-In Hours on the BioCommons Research page.
• Think about joining one of the classes offered by WISCIENCE:
Once you have identified 4-6 labs on campus that you want to reach out to, you can draft your own email message to the faculty researcher. Here are some tips for writing the email:
1. Keep it short. Be respectful, yet efficient. (1 paragraph is adequate)
2. Include relevant information (Year, Major, GPA -if you are comfortable with this).
3. IMPORTANT -Refer to the mentor’s research, and especially what you find interesting about it.
4. Related to point three, what do you hope to gain from the research (i.e., experience for med-school, grad school etc., not just to fulfill a requirement)?
5. How many hours per week are you willing to commit? (For 3 credits, you should commit 9-10 hours per week).
6. Are you willing to commit multiple semesters?
7. Attach your resume (if you have one); indicate that your resume is attached for their convenience.
8. If you do not get a response in 14 days follow-up or send a new batch of emails.
What course do I enroll in for research credits?
- 699 – Or see the listing of accepted courses for Directed Study or contact your advisor.
- 681/682 – Honors Thesis (2 semesters).
- 691/692 – Senior Thesis (2 semesters).
How do I enroll in research credits?
- You need to fill out a Directed Study Course Authorization form from your mentors department and return it to that department (Contact your advisor for more information).
- There are many different Directed Study Authorization forms in different departments. Contact your advisor or mentor to figure out which form you need.
- After your completed form is received, permission and instructions on how to enroll in research credits will be sent to you. Let us know if you have any questions about this process.
A reminder: Only Directed Study courses taken after – and not concurrent with – the completion of Introductory Biology are accepted in the major.