Undergraduate Research Opportunities in Biology
This page provides information on:
- Where to find information on existing research internship opportunities
- Where to find funding for an unpaid internship opportunity
- Research internship opportunities – examples, many of which K students have participated in
- A sampling of post-graduation employment listing sites
1. Where to find information on research internship opportunities:
- Talk to faculty about possible research opportunities at Kalamazoo College. Faculty typically take on research students during the summer or may have suggestions of places to contact
- Contact 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 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.
- Check out the Microsoft Teams Opportunities channel on the Biology – Student Info Center Teams site (requires a Kalamazoo College email account login)
- Dow bulletin board: Postings received from a variety of institutions are displayed on 3rd Floor bulletin boards of Dow Science Center
- 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, accessible via the CCPD web site.
- Surf the web for databases and individual program postings. Search words such as <summer internship research biology> to start. Below are examples of internship databases that each provide links to numerous individual internship programs.
INTERNSHIP DATABASE examples
- American Association for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: contains an extensive listing of summer internship programs, organized by state.
- Association of American Medical Colleges: listing of summer undergraduate research programs
- Big Ten Academic Alliance Summer Research Opportunities Program helps prepare undergraduates for graduate study through intensive research experiences with faculty mentors and enrichment activities. Common application allows you to apply to many programs at once.
- Cornell University, Office of Undergraduate Research: extensive listing of UGR programs sortable by program name, institution, location and application deadline
- Institute for Broadening Participation in STEM fields, resources for undergraduates: database that is searchable by subject area and start date.
- National Institutes of Health – National Institute on Aging STAR Program (Student Trainee in Aging Research) NIA summer internships last from eight to ten weeks, beginning in late May and ending in mid-to-late August. Students receive hands-on experience and attend weekly seminars presented by NIA scientists. At the conclusion of the summer program, students present their data developed from their research project at the NIA Summer Student Poster Day. Program participants receive a stipend which is based on the amount of education completed at the time the fellowship begins.
- National Institutes of Health Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (NIH- RISE) training program that seeks to diversify the pool of students who complete at Ph.D. degree in biomedical research fields. List of participating institutions available.
- National Institutes of Health Summer internship Program in Biomedical Research (NIH-SIP) opportunity to spend a summer working at the NIH side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world; application available mid-December through March 1.
- National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Scholarship Program (NIH-UGSP) offers competitive scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are committed to careers in biomedical, behavioral, and social science health-related research. Application open January-March for the following academic year.
- National Science Foundation – Research Experiences for Undergraduates. This sites contains a list of participating universities and other research institutions that currently have REU programs, including ecology and field biology. Also downloadable as an Excel spreadsheet.
- Pathways to Science.org searchable database.
- Rochester Institute of Technology: extensive listing of biology & biotechnology paid internship opportunities – all areas of biology and organized by various disciplines (e.g. biomedical research and premed students; ecology and animal/plant biology, marine science; veterinary medicine research and prevet students); neuroscience; microbiology; immunology) and groups (e.g. opportunities that may consider first year students, or specifically targeting minority and underrepresented students).
- University of Michigan Medical School hosts multiple Undergraduate Summer Research programs. See individual links on their programs page for specific program application information and deadlines.
- U.S. Department of Energy Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (DOE-SULI) offers research opportunities at one of 17 participating DOE laboratories. Application deadline is end of May.
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 official copy of your undergraduate transcript
- 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 and Professional Development (Dewing Hall- first floor) for assistance with resume writing, cover letter writing, and interviewing for a job.
2. Kalamazoo College funding sources for unpaid internships:
If you have identified a research opportunity at Kalamazoo College or another institution, but the position is unpaid, you may apply for funding through various sources at Kalamazoo College:
- Kalamazoo College Biology Department – Diebold and Batts Research Fellowships: These fellowships are open to Biology majors and provide support for SIP research in biology. 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 in conjunction with faculty members of the Kalamazoo College Biology Department. Application deadline: Friday of 7th week of spring quarter.
- Kalamazoo College Sciences Division Sherman Fairchild Summer Research Grants provide approximately 15 students with summer research stipends to conduct research in the areas of biology, chemistry, and physics each year. Approximately half of the research stipends will go support SIP research and the other half will support research experiences for younger students. First-years, sophomores, and juniors majoring in (or planning to major in) Biology, Chemistry, or Physics are eligible to apply. See the SFSRG webpage for the application deadline (2019 deadline was Week 2 of spring term)
- Kalamazoo College Center for Career and Professional Development oversees funding for a number of experiential learning opportunities through their Gaining Experience webpage. These include summer externships and internships. Eligibility may depend on student year and financial need. Deadlines vary by program.
- Kalamazoo College Center for International Programs Student Projects Abroad (SPA). This funding is only 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. The due date for applications is Friday of 3rd week spring quarter.
3. Sampling of research internship opportunities
(NOTE: deadline dates are approximate – check current posting for exact date)
Deadline: Nov – March 1 (the earlier you apply the better)
NIH Clinical Research summer internship program. The summer internship is 40 hours a week for 8 weeks. Program dates: mid-June to early August.
Location: MD, Bethesda
Deadline: Jan 1 or later (program dependent)
University of Michigan Medical School hosts multiple Undergraduate Summer Research programs. See individual links below for specific program application information and deadlines.
Location: MI, Ann Arbor
Deadline: Jan 15 (and other program-dependent deadlines)
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has its own summer undergraduate research program (program starts mid-June).
Location: WA, Seattle for FHCRC; varies by other programs
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
Location: NY, Cold Spring Harbor
Deadline: Jan 31
Pierce Cedar Creek Institute is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote environmental education, research, preservation, and appreciation. The Institute is located south of Hastings, MI and serves as a biological field station for a consortium of colleges and universities, including Kalamazoo College. There are summer grant opportunities in field research, writing and art. Visit their research page for information on programs. The application process typically involves students developing a proposal for a project in collaboration with a faculty member. Deadlines are late January each year (so plan to start on this during fall term or no later than Jan 1).
Location: MI, Hastings
Organization for Tropical Studies, internships 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.
Location: Costa Rica
Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest summer REU program in forest ecology or soil ecology. The dates look like they won’t work but we checked with them and they said it’s possible to start late and stay late. Dr. Girdler worked here during one of her graduate programs.
Location: Woodstock, NH
Arizona State University, Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute (MTBI) 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.
Location: AZ, Tempe
Deadline: Feb 1
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.
Location: TN, Memphis
University of Nebraska, Nebraska 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
Location: NE, Lincoln
Loyola University, Undergraduate Summer Research Program in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology. 10-week internship
Location: IL, Chicago
SETI Institute, Summer 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
Location: CA, Silicon Valley
Wayne State University School of Medicine, Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Program. Provides hands-on research experience for those interested in many areas of biology, including medical physics and physiology. Flexible start date. Stipend awarded to rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are US citizens.
Location: MI, Detroit
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Internship 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.
Location: varies with project
University of Michigan Biological Station, REU Program. Program dates: mid-June through mid-August. Open to rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
Location: MI, Pellston
University of Chicago, REU 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
Location: IL, Chicago
Note: Deadline Feb 1 if requesting funding
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.
Location: MI, Big Bay
Deadline Feb 1 or later (program dependent)
Hatfield Marine Science Center of Oregon State University, HMSC Internship Programs . Various internship programs, some programs start mid-June
Location: OR, Newport
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.
Location: CA, Los Angeles
Deadline: Feb 2
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.
Location: ME, Bar Harbor
Deadline: Feb 3
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
Location: MI, Grand Rapids
Deadline: Feb 9
Indiana University, Research Experience for Undergraduates in animal behavior. Program dates Program starts late-May
Location: IN, Bloomington
Deadline: Feb 14
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
Location: NC, Beaufort
Deadline: Feb 15
Mote Marine Laboratory, REU 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)
Location: FL, Sarasota
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 Courses, Undergraduate 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.
Location: Richland, MI (30 min drive from Kalamazoo)
Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Undergraduate 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
Location: CO, Gothic
Deadline: Feb 17
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.
Location: MN, Bethel
Deadline: Feb 20
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.
Location: VA, Giles County
Deadline: Mar 1
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, NPS 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.
Location: MI, Empire
Deadline: Mar 6
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.
Deadline: Mar 7
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.
Location: NY, Albany
Deadline: Mar 15
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.
Location: Open (student proposes lab they will visit)
Deadline: Mar 17
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.
Location: MI, Detroit
Deadline: Mar 21
Wayne State University School of Medicine Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE). SURE is a 10- to 12-week experience with a flexible starting date to accommodate your academic schedule. While no housing allowance is provided, a $2,500 stipend is awarded to successful applicants who are rising sophomores, juniors or seniors and a U.S. citizen. The program provides dynamic research experiences in a range of biomedical fields (see web page for details)
Location: MI, Detroit
Deadline: Mar 31
Wayne State University School of MedicineSummer 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.
Location: MI, Detroit
4. 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
Environmental Careers Organization: a national, non-profit education, training and leadership development organization committed to the development of environmental professionals. ECO offers a range of internships in programs sponsored by federal, state and local government, corporations and non-profit organizations. Listing on their web site are updated frequently.
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
Consult the Biology Department’s Handbook for Juniors and Seniors for information on conducting research toward a SIP in biology.