Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Undergraduate students in the lab

An important part of the undergraduate experience for biology students takes place in the laboratory. As early as sophomore year, students can begin making groundbreaking discoveries alongside leading research faculty. Graduates who invest early in research projects are well positioned for competitive career options and advanced degrees in the sciences and medicine.


Harlan Undergraduate Research Program

Current first years, sophomores and juniors who have declared biology majors may apply for the Wilbur V. Harlan Research Fellowship program. Selected students are awarded a stipend to support independent research in a Biology Department lab. Students learn research techniques and methods and prepare a final poster session presentation.



More About Harlan Fellowships


Harlan undergraduate research group studying samples from the forest at Kingman Island, Washington DC

Tips for Finding Research Positions

Students interested in undergraduate research should contact specific faculty members directly via email. Before reaching out, students should review faculty biographies on the GW website and tailor their email to the recipient’s specific interests. Undergraduates are also welcome to reach out to researchers from other departments, including chemistry, physics, anthropology and the medical school.

Emails should be very brief, polished and organized. It should take a busy lab director no more than 30 seconds to read.

The initial email of interest should include:

  • A description of the writer’s biology interests and the type of research opportunity desired
  • Any lab experience, previous science classes and current GPA
  • Year in school (which indicates how many years can be dedicated to a project)
  • Availability (including summers)
  • Whether a stipend will be needed
  • Contact information
  • A short recommendation from an instructor (optional)
  • Attached résumé

Note: Students must fill out the Registration Transaction Form from the Office of the Registrar to register for independent study or other research credit. Questions regarding undergraduate research and this process should be sent to the Department of Biological Sciences at [email protected].


Find a Biology Student Research Position


"[The biology lab] mimics the professional environment that I will soon be entering. It is incredibly unique and valuable to have a guided and structured undergraduate research experience!"

Phoebe Shaw
2018 Harlan Undergraduate Research Fellow