Undergraduate Research Opportunities

The department emphasizes hands-on laboratory experience and independent research as a part of the undergraduate training. All students are required to complete three biology laboratory courses for the major, as well as the laboratories accompanying general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics. Our students develop a sense of feeling at home in the laboratory and thus have the confidence to enter any laboratory setting in the future; every student has, on average, one laboratory course each semester.

Highly motivated students seek additional research experience and enhance their training by engaging in independent research in the laboratories of the faculty. Typically, 15 percent of CELL majors are involved in independent research in this department each semester. In addition, some majors perform research at the Tulane Health Sciences Center. Outstanding students may earn departmental honors and complete an Honors Thesis as a result of their investigations. Frequently, the research findings are published in the literature of the field and students are listed as co-authors; see our list of undergraduate student publications.

Procedures for Participation in Undergraduate Research

The student must take the initiative in arranging for independent research in faculty laboratories and, although most faculty do not take freshmen into their laboratories, the earlier one begins the process, the greater the chances are of finding a research niche.

  • The student research is generally limited to those areas of investigation in which the Cell and Molecular Biology faculty have both interest and expertise. Thus the student should become familiar with the faculty research as the first step toward participation; see our list of faculty research. In general the student has opportunities in Developmental Biology (pattern formation, organogenesis, cell-cell signaling, and gene expression regulation), Cellular Neuroscience (neurophysiology, neuroendocrinology, molecular neuroscience and developmental neuroscience) and Environmental Biology (microbiology, carcinogenesis and bioremediation). As a next step, the student then makes inquiry with selected faculty concerning possible opportunities, specific projects and the commitments and responsibilities of the student, if accepted into the laboratory. Most faculty expect a commitment of 8 to 12 hours per week for a period of at least 2 semesters; some prefer a two-year commitment and most require two years for those expecting to present an Honors Thesis.

Research opportunities for undergraduates majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology are also available in laboratories at the Tulane Health Sciences Center. Transportation between the uptown campus and the medical school is provided by the Tulane Shuttle Bus system.

Please see our FAQs for more information about registration for independent research.

Procedures for Applying for a Ching Summer Fellowship

The Jonathan Ching Undergraduate Summer Fellowship was established as an endowed fund in 2005 to provide support for undergraduate research in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology. Jonathan Y.C. Ching was a 1975 Tulane University Medical School graduate. His generosity made possible the establishment of this fund. Dr. Ching died on July 5, 2003. The Department will forever remain grateful for his gift to our students.

Each summer the Department awards one to three summer research stipends in the amounts between $1,500 - $2,500 to Cell and Molecular Biology majors. To apply for one of these stipends, students should have maintained a 3.2+ GPA and submit the following documents to their faculty sponsor:

  • A one to two page research project proposal
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • Resume

Please note that if a student has already received another summer fellowship stipend from another division or office at Tulane, they are ineligible for the Ching Fellowship.