The Biology Department is dedicated to giving its students research opportunities in the laboratory and in the field.
In addition to the research projects that are integral parts of many biology lab courses, students have opportunities to design semester-long independent research courses, conduct thesis projects, collaborate with faculty members on research, and participate in paid summer research internships at Davidson and elsewhere.
Undergraduate research experiences are frequently required for admission to many graduate and professional schools. Most elite graduate programs expect research experience when a student applies. Biology offers research experiences that help students become competitive graduate program candidates, and many of our recent graduates have continued their life sciences studies at top graduate programs around the country.
In BIO 371-374 students conduct independent research in collaboration with a faculty member. Students can apply for Independent Study with faculty members through the application posted on Handshake each semester. Consult the Biology Department newsletter or Gena Keeton, Program Coordinator, for more information.
The Biology Department thesis program is designed to promote, develop, and recognize individual excellence through a year or more of directed independent research. Contact Prof. Karen Bernd and/or review the Biology Major Handbook for more information.
Research With Professors
Biology faculty members have a wide variety of research interests, and often collaborate with students on projects, as well as co-author papers and articles with them. From 2010-13, 11 biology faculty members and 70 students published 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals.
- Biodiversity, conservation biology, & community ecology (Prof. Kevin Smith)
- Developmental neurobiology (Prof. Barbara Lom)
- Environmental cell biology (Prof. Karen Bernd)
- Genetics of mitochondrial morphogenesis (Prof. Karen Hales)
- Genomics Regulation (Prof. Debbie Thurtle-Schmidt)
- Genomics & synthetic biology (Prof. Malcolm Campbell)
- Immunology (Prof. Sophia Sarafova)
- Insect community Ecology and Applied Ecology (Prof. Christopher Paradise)
- Genetics of neurobiology and intracellular transport (Prof. Rachid El Bejjani)
- Plant evolutionary ecology (Prof. Susana Wadgymar)
- Protein biochemistry (Prof. Bryan Thurtle-Schmidt)
- RISE program (Prof. Mark Barsoum)
- Viral pathogenesis (Prof. Dave Wessner)
- Behavioral ecology, sexual selection, & speciation (Prof. Scott Villa)
Many students engage in summer research around the country in a wide range of areas. In recent years, Davidson biology majors have completed summer research programs at many prestigious research institutions such as Duke University, Vanderbilt University, Rockefeller University, HHMI’s Janelia Farm, Wake Forest University, Mayo Clinic, and Caltech.
Summer Research Programs at Other Institutions
In addition to summer research opportunities at Davidson, undergraduates can obtain paying positions in research labs at universities and institutions across the country (including a few international opportunities). Competition for these positions is usually very tight, so students are encouraged to apply for multiple summer research opportunities. Application deadlines generally vary.
- NSF REU Programs A list of institutions that have National Science Foundation funding—an excellent resource to begin your search for a summer research opportunity.
- Merck Science Initiative Undergraduate Science Research Scholarship Awards This award is intended to help African American undergraduate students who are interested in science careers. This award provides tuition support and opportunities for research experience at a Merck research facility during the summer.
- HHMI Janelia Undergraduate Scholars
- Cold Spring Harbor Undergraduate Research Program
Opportunities to Present Research
- Davidson Summer Research Symposium- An annual event held the second week of fall semester featuring research conducted by DRI and other summer research programs at Davidson College.
- The Verna Miller Case Research and Creative Works Symposium- An annual symposium featuring research conducted by students across campus; held during spring semester.
- Association of Southeastern Biologists (ASB)
- Posters on the Hill
- National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR)
- State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research & Creativity Symposium (SNCURCS)
- North Carolina Academy of Science (NCAS) Annual Meeting
- Symposium for Young Neuroscientists & Professors of the SouthEast (SYNAPSE)
- Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of Undergraduate Scholarship (MARCUS)
- Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical & Biological Sciences
- Sigma Xi Student Research Conference