Research Tips and Advice
- Follow your own interests.
Don't ever decide to do anything because you think it will "look
good on your record." Students who take on projects they really
aren't interested in often do a suboptimal job and instead of
getting an enthusiastic recommendation, they may get a mediocre
one. Indeed, some professional school admissions committees
indicate that they are more interested in seeing sustained
commitment to a single interest rather than a smattering of
experiences. These committees emphasize that whether a student
is interested in music, politics, volunteer work or laboratory
research is less important than the demonstration of a genuine
commitment on the part of the student.
- When should you undertake a research project?
This is not a simple question to answer and there is no clear
consensus, but in general you probably shouldn't start research
until you have an adequate course background to understand the
context of what you are doing. Some students start on research
projects during or after their sophomore year, but others defer
the research experience until after their junior year. Exactly
when you start will depend on your area of interest and the
intensity of your own program of study.
- How do you find a research project?
In general, students will participate in an ongoing research
project in a working laboratory. In addition to Biology and
other science departments on the Tufts Medford campus, Tufts
students have carried out research projects at Tufts Medical,
Dental or Veterinary Schools as well as at other Boston
institutions such as the Dana Farber Cancer Center,
Massachusetts General Hospital, The Shriners Burns Institute and
a variety of biotechnology companies. A list of Biology
Department faculty and their research interests is available in
the department office and in the graduate program description on
this web site. Spaces for student research projects in the
Biology Department tend to fill up quickly, so plan on
contacting faculty members during the semester before you want
to begin doing research. For up-to-date information on research
projects, see Blackboard.
- How much time does it take?
LOTS. You probably should not even try to do a research project
unless you have plenty of time to spend on it. Bio 93/94
requires a minimum of 10 to12 hours a week and Bio 193/194
requires 15 to 20 hours a week. But be aware that some weeks you
will need to spend even more time than this. Obviously this is
incompatible with a five class program of study and a part-time
job. Be very realistic about this, since doing a poor job is
probably worse for you than not doing a project at all.
The above comments are not meant to discourage students. Although it
is often difficult to get substantial results in the short period of
time available, the rewards of doing research are many. There is
absolutely nothing as exciting as discovering something new. If you
have the inclination, time and background, definitely give it shot!
It could be the most rewarding experience of your undergraduate
Academic Year Research
Students are encouraged to write up a resume and schedule of times
when they will be available for research work before they contact
faculty members. A list of off-campus faculty who have mentored
students in the past or who have indicated interest in mentoring
students is available from the Bio 93/193 course coordinator.
Students are also encouraged to identify on their own researchers in
the Boston area in whose research they are interested and obtain lab
positions with them.
Programs from other universities are posted on the bulletin board
across from the Biology Department office and also in the department
Reading Room (magazine rack).
View a list of recent
projects and mentors.
View recent publications with
Tufts undergraduates listed as co-authors.