Wilbur V. Harlan Research Fellowship

Harlan summer fellows took a field study trip to Kingman and Heritage Islands in Southeast Washington, D.C.
Harlan summer fellows took a field study trip to Kingman and Heritage Islands in Southeast Washington, D.C.

Each year, select GW undergraduate biology majors earn merit-based scholarships supported by the Wilbur V. Harlan Trust. Under the guidance of a biology faculty member, students spend 14 weeks (mid-May to August) conducting an independent research project, learning research skills and networking with other students and researchers. The research projects may extend into the academic year and provide excellent experience for any undergraduate who wishes to continue a career in science.

The Harlan Trust was established in 2011 through a generous bequest from the estate of Wilbur V. (Bill) Harlan, BS ’35. Past Harlan scholars have conducted research to explore the role of fungal species interactions in forest ecosystems, examined the developmental pattern of tissues in the fish head and their function in the adult organism and applied CRISPR gene editing methods to butterfly wing patterns.

Eligibility and Applications

The Wilbur V. Harlan Undergraduate Research Fellowship is available to undergraduate students who have completed their first, sophomore or junior year at GW and declared a biology or neuroscience major. Past students have chosen research topics in ecology, cellular and molecular biology, evolution and systematics and bioinformatics.

Summer Curriculum

In addition to their research work, Harlan fellows take trips to visit scientists at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian National Zoo and the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Fellows also attend workshops and seminars on topics such as effective science communication, how to create a scientific poster presentation and how to write a journal article.

Students meet twice a month with an assigned Harlan advisor and another Harlan scholar to provide project updates and foster collaboration. At the end of the program, participants present their work at the annual Harlan Poster Session.

Harlan News

A group of Harlan scholars in the jungle

Summer School: Bio Students Thrive in Harlan Fellowship

A cohort of biology students spent their summer in the lab and the field thanks to a CCAS program that supports undergraduate research opportunities.

Whidbey Bissell

"It is incredible to work alongside graduate students and postdocs at such an early stage of my research career, as they have an endless wealth of knowledge to share."

Whidbey Bissell
2018 Harlan Undergraduate Research Fellow