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We take a wide range of students into our lab. You do not have to plan on doing research as a career to work with us. Our lab accepts undergraduates, including first year students, through a wide range of mechanisms.

Independent Study

Students are permitted to take up to two independent study courses as part of their degree plan. These classes count as upper division Biology elective credits. Further independent studies can be taken, but will not apply to a biology degree. The majority of our undergraduate lab members initially join the lab as independent study students.

MARC U*Star, RISE, and Honors Thesis

Members of the MARC U*Star and RISE programs and students who are completing an Honors Research Thesis are welcome to become part of our lab.


We also accept students as volunteers or as part of other programs, such as summer exchange research programs. Many of our students joined the lab as independent studies or RISE members, then continued to work with us as volunteers after they had completed the requirements for their programs.

Joining the Lab

No matter how a student is placed in our lab, all students go through the same pre-selection process and, once admitted to the lab, are held to the same standards.

This process starts the semester before the student desires to work with us. Students will complete the process and, if accepted, be given notification of acceptance to the lab before finals of that semester. Students should be aware that it is very rare that we take students during an ongoing semester, and should plan accordingly.

Our pre-selection process was designed by students working in the lab. It allows us to identify exceptional students to work in the lab and helps us, as an organization, to measurably and personally gauge a student’s motivation for joining the lab as well as their passion for science. We only have a limited number of positions within the lab for new personnel. An offer for a position is not guaranteed by completing the application process. However, even if you are not offered one of these positions, the training and competencies you gain from this process can aid you in finding a position in another professor’s lab.The process includes 4 Phases, as described below.

Link to lab video.


Phase I – Online Safety Training

Go to Blackboard Learn

Login with your ID and Password.

On the lower left of the page there is a box titled "Course Catalog." click "Open Courses."

Enroll yourself in each of these courses and complete the 4 online training modules.

  • SA 401 – Hazardous Waste Generator Training
  • SA 443.01 – Hazard Communications & Laboratory Safety
  • SA 465 – Laser Safety
  • SA 483 – Researcher Biological Safety and Bloodborne Pathogens

Email Completion Certificates for these courses to Zachary Jordan at

We will then select a scientific paper for you for Phase II and Phase III. The paper will be related to the work we are currently doing in the lab.

Phase II – Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph (the annotation). The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited. For further information see

You will prepare an annotated bibliography of 6-8 citations you find in your assigned research paper. You may choose which citations to annotate. The annotated bibliography should be typed. No particular format (MLA, APA, so forth) is required, so long as the bibliography appears professional.

Once you have prepared your bibliography contact us at We will scheduled a time for you to meet with several our lab members and give an informal presentation and round table discussion of your bibliography. Expect the presentation to take about one hour. You will need to bring several printed copies of your bibliography. It often helps to bring a printed copy of your paper.

Phase III – Paper Presentation

You will then present your research paper to our lab. You will need to prepare a PowerPoint presentation describing the paper. Your presentation should be about 30-40 minutes in length. Expect the entire presentation, including set up and questions/answers, to take about one hour.

Use the Presentation Grading Rubric below to ensure that you incorporate key elements in your presentation. If you have questions about your paper or need advice on your presentation, you are welcome to stop by the lab for guidance.

We do not make decisions until all candidates for a semester have presented. We often have more viable candidates than lab space. We attempt to take all qualified applicants, but sometimes cannot. In such cases we prioritize applicants who present earlier in the semester.

Phase IV – Lab Skills Practice

Once a student has presented they are expected to come into the lab and learn the basics of our projects. Students in the lab currently will show you how to mix buffers, set up the experiment stage, operate lab equipment, and other skills. Come to the lab to observe. After watching, you will need to be able to explain the skills and do them yourself with supervision, and eventually independently.