Genetics and Biochemistry

Undergraduate Research

DEPARTMENTAL POLICY ON BIOCH 491 AND GEN 491:

Registering for BIOCH 491/H491 and GEN 491/H491 is by permission only. Each faculty member has their own GEN 491/H491 and BIOCH 491/H491 sections and you may not register for a 491/H491 section until you have received permission from that faculty member. Only honors students may sign up for H491, and must do this if they plan to apply for an honors research grant from the Calhoun Honors College or are working towards departmental honors. Only regular tenured and tenure-track professors within the Department of Genetics and Biochemistry will be allowed to take BIOCH 491/H491 or GEN 491/H491 students. Lecturers, research professors, and emeritus professors within the department and faculty members outside of our department are not eligible to have a BIOCH 491/H491 or GEN 491/H491 section.

Undergraduate research experience serves to consolidate all your scientific training into a single keystone experience; therefore, the department and the university strongly encourages undergraduates to pursue independent research as part of their education. Furthermore, both medical and graduate school admissions committees place research experience high on the list of admissions criteria when considering applicants.

GEN/BIOCH 491/H491 provides opportunities for students to carry out independent research projects under the guidance of Clemson faculty mentors in the Department of Genetics and Biochemistry. Students learn the latest cutting edge methodologies in biochemical and genetic research while improving observation and communication skills. In addition, faculty mentors receive the opportunity to share excitement about their work with an enthusiastic undergraduate.

You don't have to wait until your senior year to start in a lab—faculty are generally most enthusiastic about a student who spends several semesters (even years!) in the lab. Those longer-term research experiences will be particularly beneficial as your faculty mentor will be especially committed to your training and further education. We have had very successful students start research in labs as early as the freshman year. Some faculty are happy to mentor you for a single semester, while others prefer a longer commitment.

Where should you start?

The easiest way is to contact a faculty member whose work interests you (see faculty profiles for more information on mentors). Look at individual faculty profiles for those who look especially interesting; another place to look is at the recent publications of a mentor with whom you are interested in working. Contact the faculty member by e-mail and ask if that professor is interested in having an undergraduate doing research in the lab. If so, arrange to meet with the faculty member to discuss potential projects. It is best to try to line up a meeting early in the semester prior to the one in which you want to get started or even before that. Some labs fill quickly and may not have space for additional undergrads if you wait until close to the registration period to start contacting professors.

Summer Research Opportunities

Many faculty in the Department of Genetics and Biochemistry offer summer research opportunities for undergraduates; in many cases you may be able to continue spring semester research into the summer or begin fall semester research early.

If you are interested in other summer research opportunities then please consider the following programs and read more by clicking the link to the program's website:

National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates