Research Opportunities in Biology

We encourage our majors to seek out research internships throughout their time in college. These opportunities serve as a way to explore career interests, gain additional experience, and conduct your SIP research. Many advertised opportunities are paid. Others that you may broker yourself may be unpaid. Below is information on how to search for research opportunities, how to find funding for unpaid opportunities, and databases and examples of internship opportunities to help get you started on your search. A sampling of sites that list internships/employment opportunities for recent graduates are also provided at the bottom.

Where to find information on research internship opportunities:

  1. Talk to professors about possible research opportunities at Kalamazoo College.  Professors typically take on research students during the summer or may have suggestions of places to contact. See
  2. Check out the Biology Department Student Info Center on Teams: As we receive notices of internship opportunities we post them here. Turn on your notifications in Teams for the “Opportunities (jobs, internships, etc.)” channel to receive postings as they are added.
  3. Consult the database of past SIPs conducted by K biology majors. This may give you ideas of programs or researchers to contact about research opportunities.
  4. Create your own experience by contacting researchers and institutions directly: Perhaps you know of a lab or project that is doing the type of research that you are particularly interested in, or you are fixed on the idea of being in a particular geographic location and want to look for something in that area. Initiative on your part to search out and contact individuals is likely to be viewed positively so don’t be shy about contacting the lab or project coordinator directly to express your interest in working with them.
  5. Dow bulletin board: Postings received from a variety of institutions are displayed on 3rd Floor bulletin boards of Dow Science Center
  6. Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD): Kalamazoo College students can schedule an appointment with a career coach or search for internship and externship opportunities through Handshake
  7. Surf the web for databases and individual program postings.  Search words such as <summer internship research biology> is a good way to start. Look for programs with start dates that align with the K calendar. A sampling of research internship opportunities are shown below and many more exist for you to discover.

NOTE: When applying for internships, there are usually a number of documents that you must assemble. These vary with the specific program to which you apply, but generally include:

  • an application form with biographical information, educational background and interests.
  • resume showing educational background and work experience
  • a written statement of research interests, career plans and goals (including why the program you are applying to would help you meet these goals)
  • an copy of your undergraduate transcript (check to see if they require official or unofficial version)
  • letters of reference (professors, employers, others)

Keep in mind that the registrar’s office and faculty members need advance notice to prepare transcripts and letters of recommendations. Plan accordingly.  Visit the Center for Career & Professional Development (Dewing Hall basement) for assistance with resume writing, cover letter writing, and interviewing for a job.

How to get paid for your internship work

Programs that come with funding

Many institutions receive funding to develop undergraduate summer research programs.  See our sampling of databases and programs below, and search the web for additional programs.

If you find an internship opportunity that is not part of a formal program, your host institution may still have a way to pay you, through hourly wage or a lump sum stipend through the mentors research grant or other institutional support. Inquire with your research mentor about this.

Funding for otherwise unpaid internships

If you have identified a research opportunity at Kalamazoo College or another institution, but the position is unpaid, you can apply for funding through various sources at Kalamazoo College:

Kalamazoo College Biology Department

The Biology Department supports its majors through a number of Biology Summer Research Fellowships intended to cover expenses associated with otherwise unpaid SIP research opportunities. Awards are based on the strength of the proposed research and financial need. The number of awards granted each year will vary depending available funds, the number of applications, and individual student need. Priority is given to those projects carried out with faculty members of the Kalamazoo College Biology Department. Application deadline is Friday of 7th week, spring term. Awards are usually announced within two weeks of the deadline.

Center for Environmental Stewardship

Two types of Summer Environmental Stewardship Fellowships area available: Gardening Fellowships working with the hoop house, pollinator areas and rain gardens surrounding the hoop house, and the Jolly Garden; and Self-Designed Fellowships on campus, the Lillian Anderson Arboretum or in the Kalamazoo community. These fellowships must be mentored by a Kalamazoo College faculty or staff member. Application deadline is early spring term.

Center for Career and Professional Development

The CCPD oversees funding for a number of experiential learning opportunities through their Gaining Experience webpage. These include externships and internships, including summer internships. Eligibility may depend on student year and financial need. Deadlines vary by program.

Center for International Programs

Student Projects Abroad (SPA) is available for individual, independent projects completed during official Kalamazoo College breaks (i.e. Summer, Winter, or Spring break). Students from all years are eligible to apply. Deadlines have traditionally been early spring term.

Databases of Research Opportunities

Below are examples of databases maintained by other institutions that list various research opportunities

Sampling of research internship opportunities

Programs are listed in approximate order of application deadlines. These range from Jan 1 – mid-March and it is always better to get your application in early as some programs start screening applications as soon as they are received.

JANUARY DEADLINES

University of Michigan Medical School hosts multiple Undergraduate Summer Research programs. See individual links below for specific program application information and deadlines.


Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has its own summer undergraduate research program (program starts mid-June).


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Undergraduate Research Program. 10-week summer program to work with senior laboratory staff members on independent research projects, specifically in areas of: Cancer Biology, Neuroscience, Plant Biology, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Genetics, Macromolecular Structure, Bioinformatics. Program starts mid-June


Pierce Cedar Creek Institute grants and fellowships in science, stewardship and humanities. PCCI is a non-profit organization with a goal to enhance the health and stability of ecosystems in West Michigan by providing scientific information to support land management decisions. In addition to science and natural resource work, the Institute provides funding for creative art and writing projects. Applications for grants are released on an annual basis in October and are due in early February.


Organization for Tropical Studies, practicum in tropical biology. Designed for advanced biology students interested in conducting field research under the supervision of an experienced tropical ecologist at one of three research stations in Costa Rica.


Arizona State University, Quantitative Research for the Life and Social Sciences Program (QRLSSP) summer REU program. Intensive eight-week summer research experience (program starts early June) at the interface of mathematics, statistics and the natural and social sciences. Participants receive intensive instruction in dynamical systems, stochastic processes, computational methods and modeling.  Students work in self-selected groups on research problems of their own choosing in collaboration with experienced faculty and graduate students mentors.


FEBRUARY DEADLINES

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Pediatric Oncology Education program (POE) offers a unique opportunity for students preparing for careers in the biomedical sciences, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, psychology, or public health to gain biomedical and oncology research experience. The POE program provides a short-term training experience (internship) in either laboratory research or clinical research. Start date can range from mid-May to mid-June, with 9-10 week internship. A primary goal of the program is to encourage students to pursue a career in cancer research, either as a laboratory-based scientist or a physician scientist. Thus, qualified students with an interest in cancer research are particularly encouraged to apply.


University of NebraskaNebraska Summer Research Program.  This intensive summer research experience provides mentoring and research experiences while allowing scholars to preview graduate school life. Students with a strong interest in graduate programs are particularly encouraged to apply, as are those from populations traditionally underrepresented in graduate education.Program dates: Program starts early-June


SETI InstituteSummer Research Experience for Undergraduates Program in Astrobiology. Students work with scientists at the SETI Institute and at the nearby NASA Ames Research Center on projects spanning the field of astrobiology from microbiology to planetary geology to observational astronomy. Program starts early-June


Smithsonian Environmental Research CenterInternship Program in Environmental Studies. Projects are categorized under the different research areas of SERC research (e.g. Global Change, Landscape Ecology, Ecology of Coastal Ecosystems, Population and Community Ecology, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Education). This program is also open to recent recent college graduates. 


University of Michigan Biological Station, REU Program. Program dates: mid-June through mid-August. Open to rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors.


University of ChicagoREU Program in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology. 10 week (mid June-mid Aug). This program is designed for students who are interested in attending graduate school and pursuing a career in research.  Program starts mid-June


Huron Mountain Wildlife Foundation/Ives Lake Research Station supports field research focused on the landscape and ecosystems of the Lake Superior basin, particularly the Huron Mountains of northern MI.  The Foundation provides housing and facilities at the Ives Lake Research Station north of Big Bay, MI. The Foundation also offers SMALL GRANTS, with particular priority given to ‘seed’ projects that might lead to successful proposals to major funding agencies. Note: Deadline Feb 1 if requesting funding


Hatfield Marine Science Center of Oregon State University, HMSC REU Programs . Various internship programs, some programs start mid-June


UCLA Summer Programs for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) offer upper division undergraduate students with outstanding academic potential the opportunity to work closely with faculty mentors on research projects. The programs are designed for students who wish to learn more about the graduate school experience and possibly pursue an academic career in teaching and research.  Program dates mid-June to mid/late August. Each student participant will be working with a faculty mentor with special expertise and interests matched, as closely as possible, to the student’s research interests and career goals. Students will either assist the faculty member in an ongoing research project or work collaboratively with the mentor in designing a new project of mutual interest.


Jackson Laboratory for mammalian genetic research. Summer Student Program: under the guidance of a mentor, students develop an independent research project, implement their plan, analyze the data, and report their results. At the end of the summer, students present their findings to researchers, peers, and parents.


Van Andel Research Institute (VARI). The Summer Internship Programs are designed to provide undergraduate college students opportunities to be mentored by professionals in their chosen research field, to become familiar with the use of state-of-the-art scientific equipment and technology, and to learn valuable interpersonal and presentation skills. The goal of these programs is to expose aspiring researchers and clinicians to exciting advances in biomedical sciences that will help define their career paths.  Program starts mid-June


Indiana University, Research Experience for Undergraduates in animal behavior.  Program dates Program starts late-May


Duke University Marine Lab, REU Program in Marine Studies. 10 week (early June-mid Aug) semi-independent research program with faculty mentors in the general areas of marine sensory physiology, ecology and behavior; environmental toxicology; marine genetics; coastal and estuarine processes. Program starts early-June


Mote Marine LaboratoryREU program in Estuarine Science. 10-week program in which students are paired with Mote scientists and develop and complete an independent research project related to their mentor’s research interests. Students attend research seminars and workshops on career skills in science, Students also have the opportunity to present their research findings at professional conferences.  Program starts late-May (check with program officer to see if they would consider a later start date for K student)


Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) is part of Michigan State University.  We offer a range of opportunities for undergraduates at KBS during the summer, including Summer CoursesUndergraduate Research Apprenticeships (URA)Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU),and Internships. Each year, a number of K students also arrange independent research assistantships with researchers at KBS.  Contact individual researchers directly to inquire.


Rocky Mountain Biological LaboratoryUndergraduate research opportunities in field biology. This program is an excellent way to decide if a career in field biology is right for you.  The REU program is fully funded; other options require that you pay or come up with your own funding.  Programs start early-June


Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, University of Minnesota has opportunities for students to work as Research Interns in plant community ecology. Summer positions start in June


Mountain Lake Biological Station (University of Virginia)REU program focused on field-based ecology, evolution, physiology, and behavior. Program starts late May but the program specifically states to go ahead and apply even if you are on the quarter system.


MARCH DEADLINES

Sleeping Bear Dunes National LakeshoreNPS Internship Programs (2013 info). The National Park Service (NPS) offers beautiful and challenging environments with internship programs intended to provide working experience to augment your degree program. May not be suitable for SIP research.


DePaul University MedIX REU program. The Medical Informatics (MedIX) program’s main objectives are to encourage talented undergraduates to pursue graduate education and to expose students to interdisciplinary research, especially at the border of information technology and medicine.  Program dates: mid-June to mid-August.


New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center REU Program. The primary objective of this program is to provide cutting-edge research experiences by networking undergraduate students with each other and with their mentors to gain insight into how modern scientific research is conducted. Program dates: early June to mid-Aug.


microMORPH Undergraduate Summer Internships/Training Grants in plant research. Successfully funded proposals address plant evolution and development as related to processes of microevolution. Funding allows undergraduates to visit labs and botanical gardens as well as gain invaluable laboratory experience while contributing to scientific research on plants.


Wayne State University School of Medicine, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Summer Fellowships Research Program. Open to undergraduate students majoring in biology, biochemistry, chemistry and physics who have completed their sophomore year. An opportunity to learn modern research techniques in biochemistry and molecular biology and to gain research experience for entry into the biomedical and biotechnical fields. Flexible dates.


Wayne State University School of Medicine Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP).  SURP students will conduct research in the laboratories of Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics faculty members and attend weekly research seminars. Students present the results from their summer projects to mentors, peers and other Wayne State University research faculty at a mini-symposium. Program dates early June-mid Aug.

Sampling of post-graduation employment and advice sites:

Pathways to Science  a resource site with links to paid summer research and internships for undergraduates, portable scholarships for undergrads, post-baccalaureate programs and short-term opportunities (travel, summer programs)

Guide to Careers in the Life Science (by Nature Education) helps you to explore and choose what career is best for you. Starting with an assessment of who you are and how you work best, this guide takes you on a journey that extends from a survey of possible careers through the steps necessary to get there. Interviews with professionals about how they chose their career paths are included so you can learn how others became successful and understand the positive and negative aspects of various career choices. Strategies for networking, overcoming shyness, and building your résumé are also discussed to help you lay the groundwork for success and present the best you to potential employers. This guide is a must read for anyone embarking on a career in the life sciences.

Some undergraduate internship programs also offer internships to recent graduates; visit the sites above to determine whether they are open to recent graduates

Environmental Careers Center: searchable web database of environmental jobs

Student Conservation Association Expense paid internships from 3 months to 1 year. Open to students and non-students.

Texas A&M Dept. Fisheries and Wildlife job board

US Environmental Protection Agency: internships, fellowships and student programs