The BioMER for Biology Students

Welcome to research in the Biology and Marine Biology Department!  BioMER is the Biology and Marine Biology Experience in Undergraduate Research program.

As a BioMER student, you can

However, you might not be sure how to

General Information

Any biology student working in a Biology and Marine Biology lab is a BioMER member.

Any pre-Biology or Biology major can become a BioMER member.

Biology and Marine Biology labs are located in Dobo Hall, in Friday Hall, and at the Center for Marine Science; field work at a variety of sites is often part of research projects.

Training and Events

Every BioMER student working in the department is encouraged to attend a 1.5 hour training session, which is held at 3 PM on the second Friday of every semester.  Sign up for the training session in the Biology office after you have found a faculty mentor.

Research talks in the department are Fridays at 2 PM, all students are welcome to attend these talks  

Recognition and Awards for Students

See http://www.uncw.edu/research/ for examples of student accomplishments!

There is a research symposium each spring where students present posters—the best posters get awards!  See http://www.uncw.edu/csurf/opp-oncampus.html.

There are travel awards for students to present their work at professional meetings, see http://www.uncw.edu/csurf/about.html

Departmental Honors is a program for juniors and seniors with superior academic records, see http://www.uncw.edu/honors/ for application details.

Undergraduate research scholarships are awarded each year, see http://www.uncw.edu/csurf/index.html

Is research right for me?

Research experience is a great idea if you are thinking about a career in academia, medicine, environmental research and conservation, biotechnology, or teaching. 

Research experience is how you learn to do biology.

When should I begin a research project?

Some mentors prefer that you have specific class experience, and other faculty mentors are mostly concerned about how much you learn and contribute.  The more time you have to do research, the more you will benefit.  If you feel you are prepared and interested, you can begin your freshman year.

How do I find a mentor for a BioMER project?

Write a resume (also called a CV).  See Sarah Clark in Career services (http://www.uncw.edu/career/writingacv.html) for assistance in developing a professional CV. 

Look at the list of research areas at http://www.uncw.edu/bio/areas.html, and read about faculty in the department at http://www.uncw.edu/bio/about-faculty.html.  Also, talk to your lab or lecture instructors about the research they are doing.

Send your CV to the faculty member by e-mail, the body of the e-mail will be your cover letter.  Make sure the e-mail you send is professional and clear!  Check with Mike Barugel in Career services for help in composing this very important letter; also read the chapter about letters of application in your Short Guide to Writing About Biology book (if you are using it for your lab section). 

Once you get an interview, communicate your enthusiasm about the research the lab does and be prepared to offer evidence that you are responsible and capable of working without extensive supervision (working independently). 

How do I get credit for BioMER?

You may get credit for Directed Independent Research (DIS) 291 or 491.  The registration form from the registrar (http://www.uncw.edu/reg/documents/DIS_form.pdf) is filled out by you and your faculty mentor, and signed by the department head and Dean. 

Departmental Honors is a program for juniors and seniors with strong academic records, see http://www.uncw.edu/honors/ for application details.  Qualified students are strongly encouraged to consider honors work.

Internships are supervised by faculty members and off-campus supervisors.  Contact the department internship coordinator, olsonc@uncw.edu, for details.

Most advisors prefer that you work for credit, as this opportunity is a learning experience not just a job.

How much time should I spend on my BioMER?

The more time you spend, the more you will get out of the project.  Typically, students spend at least twelve hours per week in the lab. 

You will need to arrange your schedule so that you have blocks of time to fit the project you do.  Some projects require some time every day, other require several hours at a time.  Discuss this with your mentor before starting your project.  Also, arrange your time so that you can attend the group meetings of your lab. 

What should I expect of my mentor?

Your mentor should give you a clear description of the project, including background reading. 

Your mentor should train you to perform appropriate, well-designed experiments. Safety rules in the laboratory and field should be made clear.

Your mentor should get to know you and your work well enough to write a meaningful letter of recommendation. 

Your mentor should encourage you to ask questions.

Be proactive—to make a strong connection with your mentor, you need to take the initiative.  Set up appointments, ask questions, and be prepared to discuss your work at any time. 

What will my mentor expect of me?

Your training and supervision takes time and will use research funds.  You are therefore expected to work seriously and respect this investment in you.

You will be expected to work hard to understand the specific research you are doing,  and to carry out the techniques.

You will be expected to keep appropriate records of your work. 

You will be expected to be a ‘good lab citizen’ and do your share.  Cleaning up is part of the project!

How do I successfully perform research?

Plan ahead!  Make sure you understand the overall goal of your research and the specific study you will be performing.  When you arrive each day you should know what you are going to do and be sure that you have enough time to finish the work.

Understand what a hypothesis is, and how your study relates to the hypothesis.  Remember that you are testing the hypothesis, not proving it.

Know what a control is, and think about appropriate positive and negative controls for your experiments.

A successful BioMER provides you with a good, detailed letter of recommendation from your faculty mentor—and a good letter of recommendation is a key foundation for your career after college.

How do I keep research records?

Ask your mentor about the preferred format (binder or notebook and computer file locations and types).

Keep a record of every day in the lab.  Date every piece of information, test tube, sample, etc.


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