Undergraduate Research

field reseachSince its inception in 1967, the Division of Biology has been a leader in the engagement of undergraduate students in research activities during their studies at Kansas State University. Research opportunities exist in both the lab and in field-based research programs, and cover a range of biological questions, from biochemistry and molecular biology, to developmental biology and physiology, to the evolution of phenotypes and the function of complex ecosystems.

By doing multiple years of research you can...

  • experience how science is actually done and develop a much richer understanding of the biological sciences
  • learn useful techniques at the lab bench or in the field
  • create experiments to answer fundamental questions that interest you and your faculty mentor
  • develop a mentoring relationship with a faculty member
  • contribute to science and society by presenting at scientific forums and publishing results in peer-reviewed journals
  • gain a competitive advantage for acceptance into graduate schools and professional programs
  • build a great resume by developing skills such as time management, organization, and responsibility, all of which are valued by employers
  • gain hands-on experience to obtain employment working in a lab right out of college

How to find an undergraduate research opportunity

The specifics of each research experience are determined by the faculty member and the student, and will vary from laboratory to laboratory. Undergraduate involvement in research is facilitated by:

How do you become involved in research?

  • Discuss the topic with your advisor or another faculty member.
  • Explore the webpages of faculty members in the Division of Biology and related life-sciences departments across Kansas State University. Identify faculty who have research areas that sound interesting.
  • Reach out via email to explore the possibility of joining their laboratory as an undergraduate research assistant.

A few points that many faculty members consider when evaluating new undergraduates:

  1. Do you have a solid academic record? You don't need a 4.0 GPA to do undergraduate research, but you need to demonstrate the effort and discipline required of a good biologist and a responsible adult. Your grades can be a good indicator of these qualities.
  2. Do you have compatible interests with the research program you are contacting? You should be genuinely interested in the research of the lab. Life (and your undergraduate career) is too short to do things you find boring.
  3. Do you have a good work ethic? You absolutely must be reliable to work in a lab.

Prior research experience is not usually required, and in fact, many faculty members prefer to train a student from scratch.

Undergraduate students wanting to discuss research opportunities should contact their advisor or another faculty member, or the Office of Undergraduate Studies at 785-532-5718 or email biology@ksu.edu.