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Directed Research

Microbiology majors are strongly encouraged to participate in undergraduate research. Students who complete two, 4-credit-hour semesters of research, 4960R and 4970R, satisfy our Intensive Laboratory requirement (Major Required I), UGA's Experiential Learning requirement, and will count towards Honors credit for those in the Honors Program. Always make sure to check with your advisor about where things will count in your degree.   
Note: An alternative choice is to enroll in MIBO 4600L offered in Spring semesters to fulfill Major Required I.

Who can participate?

Everyone is allowed to participate in undergraduate research. There is no specific GPA requirement, no specific pre-requisite courses, and no minimum requirement of UGA hours-earned unless you are doing it for Honors credit. If doing it for Honors credit, you will need to have completed at least 15 hours at UGA. 
Some faculty members might have certain requirements for working in their lab, such as completion of a certain course or shadowing in the lab before allowing a student to work for credit, but other faculty may have no special requirements at all. It is possible for students to start working in a lab as early as their freshman year. 
If you want MIBO major credit but will be doing the research without the MIBO prefix, please make sure you contact our Undergraduate Coordinator, Dr. Jennifer Walker, for approval.


Having trouble figuring out where to start the Directed Research process? Watch this Q&A Session with previous DR students to see how they began.


Before the Semester:

Before the semester begins, you will need to find and secure a spot in a lab with a faculty mentor. To make the process easier, we recommend you follow the steps below:

  1. Make a list of labs in which you would like to gain experience. Visit the Microbiology research and faculty pages for ideas. Other departments can be eligible as long as the project is microbiology in nature.  
    See the list below for other potential departments.  
  2. Contact the labs in your list by emailing faculty to see if they have room for undergraduate students. 
    See suggestions on how to contact faculty under "How do I contact a lab?" below.
  3. Once you have been accepted into a lab, make arrangements to meet with the faculty.
  4. With your faculty mentor, fill out the MIBO Research Course Request Form.
  5. Your faculty mentor will be contacted by the Microbiology office to fill out a separate approval form.
  6. Once your faculty mentor submits their approval form and your research has been reviewed and approved, you will be contacted via your UGA email with the CRN for the MIBO 4960R/4970R/4980R course you requested. Please register for 4 credit hours before the end of Add-Drop.  
  7. Note:  if you are working with a faculty member outside the Microbiology Department, you may be asked to register for your research course with a different prefix (e.g. IDIS, EHEC, etc.); be sure to contact the corresponding department to request your course as the Microbiology office can only create MIBO courses

OPTIONAL: Students have the option to complete a Directed Research Student-Faculty Agreement to outline the arrangements that have been agreed upon by both the student and their research mentor for the semester when the student's research is taking place. The form is simply a way to hold both parties accountable for the duration of the student's research project. The student would need to work with their research mentor to complete the form, both parties would sign the agreement, and the form would be submitted to the Undergraduate program at if you choose this option. Please contact Dr. Jennifer Walker,, if you have any questions. 

During the Semester:

Expect to work 12 hours minimum per week on your project.

Begin doing background research on your project by reading appropriate peer-reviewed articles (ask your research mentor/supervisor for suggestions). 

As you work in the lab, record, record, record!  Write down all your protocols and results as you perform your experiments; this makes the paper-writing process easier as you will have all your notes to reference. 

By the semester mid-point, assemble an outline for your research paper; there will be gaps as you have only half a semester's worth of work but this will help keep you focusedConsult your research mentor or supervisor for your project as you write your draft outline.  Use the MIBO Guidelines for writing your MIBO 4960R/4970R Research Report as well as this example paper to give you an idea of the form and arrangement: MIBO 4970R Research Paper

Continue to work on your project (and paper) during the second half of the semester.  Two weeks before the last day of class, submit your final research paper draft to your mentor for review.  Your faculty research mentor must sign off on your paper before assigning a grade so be sure you allow them plenty of time to read it.

End of the Semester:

At the end of the semester, before the last day of classes, you will be submitting your research report for the project you spent the semester working on. To fulfill credit for the directed research course:

  1. Finalize your research paper.  Be sure you are using the MIBO Guidelines for writing.
  2. Have your research mentor use this grading rubric to assess your paper (note: rubric not required).
  3. Submit your paper and have your faculty mentor submit the PI/mentor signature page to the department by 5:00 pm on the last day of class for the semester you are registered.
  4. If you are taking MIBO 4980R, you can alternatively submit an assessment from your faculty mentor for an oral presentation or submit a poster presentation as evidence of fulfillment for the course. This must be turned in by 5:00 pm on the last day of class for the semester you are registered.


Other potential departments for Directed Research:


How do I contact a lab?

Once you have found a lab you are interested in, reach out to the faculty member. When you contact a professor about research opportunities (preferably by email), be succinct and formal in your message:

Dear Professor Smith, 
I am a junior Microbiology major. I read about your research interest in lipid signaling and its role in biofilm formation on your webpage and found it very interesting. If you have any openings in you lab for next semester, I would like to meet with you to discuss the possibility of doing undergraduate research in your lab. 
Thank you in advance for your consideration. 
Sincerely, Interested Student 

Also, it is generally a good idea to include a copy of your resume in your email. The professor may or may not want it, but it is better to include it so they don’t have to ask.

Faculty web pages often list recent publications by the faculty member. If possible, read some of these papers before your interview with the professor. This will give you a better idea of the type of research done by that person and create a favorable impression when you meet with the professor.

Finding a lab does require you to be proactive. Occasionally, open lab positions are posted via the listserv, but most students will have look for a lab and email the faculty on their own. You should expect to send out a number of emails before you find a lab since spots are limited.

Still have questions? Please contact our Undergraduate Coordinator, Dr. Jennifer Walker at 

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