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Directed Research Guide for Major Required I

MIBO 4960R/4970R/4980R for Major Required I

Microbiology majors are encouraged to participate in undergraduate research. Students who complete two semesters of research, 4960R & 4970R, will have satisfied 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 that an alternative choice is to enroll in MIBO 4600L offered in Fall semesters to also fulfill Major Required I.

Click here to listen to a directed research Q&A session with student panelists who share their experiences.

Expect to work 12 hours minimum per week on your project and write a research paper to turn in at the end of the semester.

Steps for securing a spot in a laboratory for directed research:

  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 such as Cell Biology, Infectious Disease, Plant Pathology, and more can be eligible as long as the project is microbiology in nature.  
  2. Email faculty to see if they have room for undergraduates.  See suggestions on how to contact faculty under the "How do I contact a lab?" below.
  3. Once you have been accepted into a lab, make arrangements to meet with the faculty member.
  4. With your faculty member, fill out the MIBO Research Approval Form.
  5. Submit the Research Approval form to Dr. Jennifer Walker,
  6. For Athens campus students:  You will be contacted via your UGA email with the CRN for the MIBO 4960R/4970R/4980R course you require.  Please register for this course before the end of Add-Drop.


To fulfill credit for the directed research course:

  1. Use the Guidelines for Writing your MIBO 4960R Research Report to help you as you write your research paper.
  2. Have your research mentor use this grading rubric to assess your paper (note: rubric not required).
  3. Submit your paper and PI/mentor signature page to the department at the end of the semester by 5:00pm on the last day of class for the semester you are registered.


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.

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.

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.   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 email. 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 look for a lab and email the faculty on their own. You should expect to have to send out a number of emails before you find a lab since spots are limited.

Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO)

Any student who participates in MIBO 4960R/4970R/4980R directed research is eligible for CURO funding and invited to submit a poster for the CURO Symposium every spring semester.  Please visit the CURO website for more information on how to apply and participate.


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