Office of Undergraduate Instruction

I. Find a research opportunity

The first step in conducting independent research is finding a lab in which to work. Here are two good pages with advice about finding a research lab: MBB research page, Aresty research page. Also, we recommend attending research seminars in order meet people actively involved in research at Rutgers:

          Cell Biology and Neuroscience Seminars
          Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Seminars
          Genetics Seminars 
          Seminars at SEBS

      The following pages also contain information about faculty research interests:

  Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience
  Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
  Department of Genetics
  School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
  Aresty Center
  Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  Waksman Institute
  BioMaPS
  Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine

II. Register for Research Credit

When you find a research opportunity with a faculty member with shared interests, you must bring a one page* research proposal and a signed research contract:  Independent Study Contract or   Research in Biology Contract or Honors in Biology Contract to the Director of Advising in order to register for research credit. The research proposal must include a specific, testable hypothesis, a clear description of the independent and dependent variables, and a plan for collecting and analyzing data. Students must have completed general biology 119:115, 119:116 and 119:117 and have a 2.8 GPA in order to register for research credit. The deadline to register for research is third Friday of every semester (Fall 2014 = September 19th).

*Honors research applications are expected to be three pages and include relevant findings from previous research.

III. Create New Knowledge!

Work in your research lab (4-5 hours of work per week, per credit) and complete a 10 page** research paper by the end of the semester. Here are  Guidelines for Writing a Research Paper. The paper is due, graded by your research advisor, to the Director of Advising by the last day of classes of each semester.

**Independent study papers must be 10 pages per registered credit. Honors thesis requirements should be discussed with your PI and with the Director of Advising. 

Below are specific guidelines for each type of research or independent study project.


 Independent Study In Biology, Research in Biology, Honors in Biology

Independent Study (119:201, 202), Research in Biology (119:307, 308, 406, 407) and Honors in Biology (119:408, 409) are open to students majoring or minoring in Biological Sciences (119).

Eligible students may work under the supervision of faculty members associated with the Division of Life Sciences or professors affiliated with any Rutgers-New Brunswick campus or Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Students participating in Internship programs, volunteer service, or political activities are not eligible for Independent Study/Research/Honors credit. Students may not be paid for the work for which they are earning credits. Students may not receive credit for assisting faculty in their teaching responsibilities or for preparing and/or grading exams.

A maximum of 6 credits of Independent Study/Research/Honors in Biology may be applied towards the requirements of the Biological Sciences major; 3 credits may be applied towards the minor. Students in the BA/MD program are limited to one course.

Research/Honors in Biology will fulfill one laboratory requirement for the Biological Sciences major; Independent Study in Biology does not fulfill a laboratory requirement.

Each Independent Study/Research/Honors course requires the submission of a written report, due at the end of the registration period. The specific format of the report is discussed below. This requirement is in addition to any requirements dictated by the faculty sponsor.

Independent Study 01:119:201-202 (1-3 credits)

Pre or Corequisites: GPA of 2.8

Independent Study in Biology is intended to augment the curriculum by giving students an opportunity to expand their studies into areas not specifically addressed by the formal course offerings. Students work under the direct supervision of a faculty mentor to delve into a subject of mutual interest. This project is based on library work and does not involve lab research.

A term paper in appropriate scientific format, including a full literature cited section referencing peer reviewed primary and secondary sources is due at the end of the registration period. The term paper must be at least 10 pages per registered credit. The term paper must be graded by the faculty advisor and submitted to the Division of Life Sciences by the due date for that semester.

The contract form (download here) for  Independent Study in Biology must be completed and approved prior to the start of the project. 

Registration will only be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Advising.

Research in Biology 01:119:307-308, 406, 407 (1-4 credits)

Pre- or Corequisites:  GPA of 2.8

Research in Biology is intended to provide students with an opportunity to experience the scientific discovery process. Students engage in laboratory and/or field experimentation under the direct supervision of a faculty mentor. Each student is expected to carry out his/her own research project. "Hands-on" laboratory exposure is an essential component of this course.

A written research paper is required at the end of each registration period. The research paper should include an Abstract, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results (data should be presented in figure and/or tabular form), Discussion, and References. A minimum of ten pages is required (Guidelines for Writing a Research Paper).  The research paper must be graded by the faculty mentor and submitted to the Division of Life Sciences by the due date for that semester.

The research contract form (download here)  for Research in Biology must be completed and approved prior to the start of the project. 

Registration will only be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Advising.

Honors in Biology 01:119:408-409 (3-6 credits)

Pre- or Corequisites: Open to senior Biological Sciences majors who have previous research experience only. Overall GPA of 3.0; major GPA of 3.4. Completion of 18 credits of Biological Sciences courses applicable to the major.

Honors in Biology is intended to provide highly motivated students with an opportunity to immerse themselves in a scientific research project. Students engage in laboratory or field experimentation under the direct supervision of a faculty mentor. Each student is expected to complete their own original research project. Direct laboratory exposure is an essential component of this course. Honors in Biology projects are expected to be more sophisticated than Research in Biology projects.

Students must complete a minimum of 6 credits to qualify for Departmental Honors. Students must submit a written thesis accompanied by an oral presentation and thesis-defense. The thesis committee must be composed of at least three faculty members, including the research advisor and at least one member of the Division of Life Sciences faculty.

The honors research contract form (download here) for Honors in Biology must be completed and approved prior to the start of the project. 

GH Cook Students: Students who are enrolled in  George H Cook  and wish to be considered for Departmental Honors must have the project approved by the Division of Life Sciences.  The GH COOK Scholars Application for Biological Sciences Honors (download here) along with a three page proposal must be submitted to the Division of Life Sciences no later than the third Friday of the Fall semester of senior year.

Contact Us

Nelson Biological Laboratories

Nelson Biological Laboratories
604 Allison Rd
Piscataway, NJ 08854


p. (848) 445-2075
f.  (732) 445-5870