Department of Biology

Finding Research Opportunities

Laboratory equipment used in the Biology teaching lab

Interested in Lab Research?

Are you a biology undergraduate student looking for a lab research opportunity? Biology labs at Brandeis actively engage students in research and technician positions. In recent years, 35-40% of graduating biology majors have worked in a faculty member's lab during their stay at Brandeis.

Before applying to work in a research laboratory, you should really think about what you wish to achieve with this experience, as undergraduate research opportunities vary in their scope and range.

Research Opportunities

Most students start working as a lab technician in a lab, performing routine tasks such as running gels, washing glassware, and setting up PCR reactions. This type of position may be paid or may be performed in an unpaid intern capacity. Often, research labs have funding from outside grants to hire both work-study and non work-study students to work as technicians. Sometimes, however, the lab budget is tight, and you should consider whether or not you would be willing to volunteer if your lab of interest is short on funding.

You may also wish to work in a laboratory as a research technician. This type of experience is vastly different from a lab technician. As a research technician, you will be asked to perform research on a project of your own. Most often, this project is a facet of an ongoing research effort in the lab, and you will work closely with a graduate student or post doc. You will be expected to perform experiments independently, hypothesize on data collection and manipulation, defend your conjectures, and you may even be asked to present your research at lab meetings or conferences. Because research technician positions are highly selective, most students begin working in a lab as a lab technician to gain experience and demonstrate proficiency, and then are asked to continue on as research technicians. Although it is unusual, some students do begin an undergraduate research project right away. Most often these students have been involved in an outside laboratory experience or have demonstrated themselves to be outstanding in laboratory work.

All hourly student jobs are posted in Workday.  Please login, click on the "Careers" worklet and select Find Jobs for Students to begin applying.  

Pursuing a Lab Research Opportunity

  1. Take the initiative: look at the fields of research in which faculty members specialize. Find a professor whose research you find interesting and do a little reading. Review the faculty list for their research interests. Not all of them have active labs - you should check!
  2. If you find someone whose research appeals to you, send that person an email introducing yourself and ask if any jobs are available in the lab for a student. Let the person know why you are interested in the lab and be sure to include your relevant skills, if you have work-study and if you are planning to go to graduate school and do research.