While research is a worthwhile pursuit for any and all majors, it is of particular importance to our science majors. Whether your goals are to attend a professional school (medical, dental, etc.), enter a graduate program or just to begin working in a science field after graduation, participating in undergraduate research can be a valuable experience.
If you enjoyed your previous laboratory classes, you should consider participating in undergraduate research. While an independent research project (MIBO4900L or MIBO4960H) is not required for the Microbiology major, either course does count toward your degree. Expect to work 12 hours per week on your project and produce a paper.
Benefits of participating include:
- Acquiring lab/research experience (required if applying to graduate school)
- Learning the most up-to-date research techniques and research methods
- A chance to get published
- A more competitive edge when applying to professional programs
- Being able to interact with and get to know the faculty (useful for those worried about recommendation letters)
How can you get involved?
Students can get involved in research in a number of ways: as volunteers, paid student workers or for course credit. If you are looking to get a paid position, keep an eye on the listserv for openings, check in with your career consultant at the Career Center and look on DAWGLink for any job postings.
If your goal is just to get experience and you are not looking for class credit or don’t necessarily need it, you could think about volunteering or interning in a lab either at UGA or with a company. If you would like to volunteer at UGA, you will need to decide which labs you would like to volunteer in and reach out to the faculty members for their permission. The listserv can also be helpful sometimes for finding these opportunities. Please keep in mind that it is very likely that these opportunities will be limited since we have many students looking to do their research for course credit. Additionally, you can check with the Career Center for things like research internships. If you are interested in experiences beyond UGA, click here.
Lastly, you can do research for course credit. It is possible to get credit through a number of different departments as well as just through CURO using the HONS prefix. However, this guide will only cover how to go about getting Microbiology research credit
- Find a lab that you would like to join. (And some back-ups.)
- E-mail the faculty to see if they have room.
- Once you have been accepted into a lab, make arrangements with the faculty member.
- Decide if you are doing MIBO 4900L, MIBO 4960H or something else and fill out the appropriate forms.
- Submit the forms to the appropriate departments so that they can be approved.
- Remember to submit your paper to the department at the end of the semester.
- Guidelines for Writing your MIBO 4900L, MIBO 4960H Research Report.
Who can participate?
Everyone is allowed to participate in undergraduate research. There is no specific GPA requirement, no specific pre-requisite courses and no UGA hours earned minimum requirement unless you are doing it for Honors credit in which case you will need to have completed at least 15 hours at UGA. Some faculty members might expect you to have completed a certain course before starting work in their lab, some may require that you shadow in the lab before they will allow you to work there for credit, and others may have no special requirement at all. It is possible for students to start working in a lab as early as their freshman year.
MIBO 4960H/70H/80H or MIBO 4900L
Microbiology majors are encouraged to participate in undergraduate research. Students who complete two semesters of research as either MIBO 4960H & 4970H or two sections of MIBO 4900L will have satisfied our Intensive Laboratory requirement (Major Required I). Students who only complete one semester of research under either course number can also satisfy this requirement provided that they take Microbial Genetics and Genomics (POPH 4450-4450L). Always make sure to check with your advisor about where things will count in your degree.
In terms of content and time, MIBO 4960H-80H and MIBO 4900L are exactly the same. The only difference is that MIBO 4960H-80H awards Honors credit and will require the completion of the CURO portion of the paperwork as well as the departmental portion. MIBO 4900L requires only departmental approval.
If you want MIBO major credit but will be doing the research without the MIBO prefix, please make sure you contact Dr. Shimkets (Shimkets@uga.edu) for approval.
How do I find a lab?
UGA has many students interested in doing research and not always enough open lab positions to accommodate everyone. Microbiology students who want their research to work in the major will need to find research of a microbiological nature. If you have an idea of what topic you would be interested in, you can try using the Faculty Research Expertise Database (FRED). Simply type in a keyword and it will pull up the faculty members doing research somehow related to that keyword. Note: Often the “view website” link does not work so you will likely have to google the professor to find their actual page.
If you do not have anything in particular in mind, head over to our research and faculty pages and see what professors are doing in our department. You are not limited to just our departmental faculty, though. Students can complete their research with any department or research unit on campus as long as the work is microbiological. Please contact your advisor for a list of departments that we commonly work with.
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 e-mail), 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. Thanking 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 e-mail. The professor may or may not want it, but it is better to just 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 hunt for a lab and e-mail the faculty on their own. You should expect to have to send out a number of e-mails before you find a lab since spots are limited.
How do I get credit?
Remember, if you want credit for the Microbiology major, it must be microbiology-related research. All the research for our department is approved by Dr. Shimkets (Shimkets@uga.edu). If you have any doubts or questions about whether the work will count as microbiology research, please e-mail him with the research abstract. Otherwise, submit your research form to the department for approval. Once it has been approved, you will be given a POD so you can register for the course.
What should I expect?
Students will be spending around 12 hours in the lab per week. What you will be doing in the lab will be determined by the faculty member with whom you are working.
Students are normally required to write a paper on their research in journal format complete with references, figures and tables. Papers should be electronically submitted to Kim Brown (email@example.com) by 5:00 pm on the last day of class of the semester indicated on the research form. If a student does not meet this deadline, their grade will be lowered by 25%.