BIOG 2990/4990

Independent Research for Credit during the Academic Year

Over 500 students each semester earn academic credit for undergraduate research by enrolling in independent research courses. Most students enroll in 2-4 credits of research (3-5 hours per credit). A student’s research mentor can be in any department as long as the research is biological in nature. A faculty member or research associate must supervise the research. Students often work directly with a graduate student, technician, or postdoctoral scientist in the lab.

    BIOG 2990, Introduction to Research

    Intended for students new to undergraduate research. Students enrolled in BIOG 2990 may be reading the scientific literature, learning research techniques and assisting with ongoing research. Credit hours are variable (maximum of 3 credits) and grading is S/U only. This course is a prerequisite for BIOG 4990.

    BIOG 4990, Independent Research in Biology

    Students work more independently on a research project. You do not have to generate your own research topic. More typically, students get involved in the ongoing research of the lab. The prerequisite for BIOG 4990 is the completion of one semester of BIOG 2990 or previous research experience. You will need to prepare a brief research description as part of the BIOG 4990 application. We encourage you to work with your research mentor to draft this in advance of applying.

    We do not pre-enroll for BioG 2990 or BioG 4990. You must complete the online enrollment form at the start of the semester.

    BIOG 2990/4990 Research for credit

    The deadline to add has passed see "How to add research late by college."

    BIOG 2990/4990 online enrollment form

    Please be sure to look at our examples of a well written independent research form. All the enrollment forms will be reviewed by a member of the OUB. They will be sent back to you for corrections if they are not filled in correctly. Send any questions or concerns to bioresearch [at] cornell.edu (.)

    (Example of a well written 2990)
    (Example of a well written 4990)

    If you are in Arts & Sciences or CALS, you can go up or down one credit until the last day of classes. We ask that your research supervisor email their approval of the credit change to bioresearch [at] cornell.edu. Other colleges will need to petition with their college after the add deadline.

    Learning Objectives

    Students will be able to:

    • Search the literature to become familiar with scientific studies related to their field of interest
    • Read and discuss scientific literature relevant to their field
    • Discuss the general research area with other lab members in a casual setting
    • Understand and apply methodology used in by the lab group with the assistance of a mentor

    Students will be able to:

    • Search the literature to become familiar with the existing body of work relevant to their research area
    • Explain how their research fits into existing knowledge within that field of study, demonstrating understanding of “the big picture”
    • As relevant, formulate or describe hypotheses and predictions for the research question they are working on
    • Work collaboratively with other researchers – including their mentor – demonstrating effective, professional communication and problem-solving skills
    • Apply appropriate procedures and technical skills to accomplish their research goals with the guidance of a mentor
    • Organize data effectively and maintain appropriate records (e.g., meta-data) such that their mentor can easily access these data and understand all components of data files
    • Explain their research project either verbally or in writing to multiple audiences including others in their field and a broader audience (educated, non-specialist)
    • Reflect on their research experience to identify personal strengths and opportunities for growth, and how the experience informs their future educational and career goals