Graduate Research FAQ

Point of Contact

Prof. Peter Armbruster ( and Prof. Gina Wimp (

Philosophy of research

We don’t confine our definition to just the traditional disciplinary research that goes on at the bench or in the field or in a computer. We also think undergrad research might look more like a deep dive into a topic associated with an internship or a year spent teaching and investigating teaching practices in the DC Public Schools. Importantly, we have a generic syllabus for research that we discuss and uniquely tailor for each student/mentor/project situation.

How to get started

We talk up research in their first year seminar, and whenever students inquire we funnel them to this website that we created:

How to get connected with a faculty mentor

Most of our faculty have lab webpages that describe our work. Students then send emails inquiring about the possibility of joining a lab. Also, we introduce ourselves to students (see below) and students interact with more senior students who are already in the research group. Furthermore, faculty in Biology also co-mentor students who are doing research for credit in the medical center or off-campus.

Earning credit for undergraduate research

We provide a course called BIOL-4950 Research Tutorial, which can count for up to three credits of the major (Biology, Biology of Global Health, Environmental Biology, and Neurobiology). RISE (Research Intensive Senior Experience) is 6-cr across both semesters and is an elective. We also have a second Research Tutorial class (BIOL-4954), but the credits for this count toward the college elective credits; these do not contribute to progress toward completing the major because we need to limit the number of research credits applied to the majors.

Getting paid for research

A student may get paid for research, but may not receive pay and credit for the same research effort. We do not list employment through HoyaWorks, but we have an internal spreadsheet that students can see, which lists which labs provide payment. In addition to pay, students apply for summer support as fellowships (SMURF, Davis, etc.).

Thesis or capstone research

We ramp up toward a thesis project, which we call “RISE” for research-intensive senior experience. This is a year-long 6-credit sequence. Before this, students may enroll in Research Tutorial, which is up to 3 credits in one semester; students often take tutorial in their junior year. Both Research Tutorial and RISE will count towards major requirements.