Finding a Mentor


The Research Intensive Senior Experience (RISE) is the capstone of the Biology major. It provides an opportunity to pursue a research project of interest in close collaboration with a faculty mentor from the Department of Biology, another scientist at Georgetown, or another institution (such as the NIH or Smithsonian). In your RISE project, you will experience firsthand contemporary research and will gain a greater appreciation of how research is done.

Your research project may involve work in a laboratory, in the field, on the computer, in the classroom, or associated with an internship. The common feature of any sort of work is that you will be aiming to push the boundaries of the known world. This work is often time consuming and frustrating, but ultimately very rewarding. Many students have had their projects published in the scientific literature. If your interests extend to teaching outreach, the teaching option entails developing and teaching a 20-session science curriculum module in a local middle or high school classroom. Extension of a RISE project to complement an internship is also encouraged.

Selecting a Research Mentor and Project

Consider the areas of Biology that interest you. Read the descriptions of the research activities sponsored by the Biology faculty. During your sophomore or junior year, you should speak with several appropriate faculty members about their research and how your research interests might fit into their programs. Based on this information, determine the faculty member with whom you are interested in working with and obtain his/her approval to mentor your research.

It is important to pursue your options early, especially if you intend to conduct a laboratory project. Many faculty have space for only a limited number of research students and will accept students on a first-come basis.

Research Outside the Department

The Biology faculty often sponsor research conducted under the direct supervision of scientists in our medical center or in other local research institutions (e.g., at the NIH, consortium universities, Smithsonian). Such a collaboration requires considerable interaction among the student, the Biology faculty mentor, and the external mentor to assure maximal benefits. It is your responsibility to obtain approval from both mentors.

Research in the Junior Year

You may start research in your junior year by selecting a faculty mentor and registering for Research Tutorial (BIOL-340) during either semester or during the summer before senior year. Credits for Research Tutorial II (BIOL-304) are not applied to the major, but count as a College Elective towards the course and credit requirement. See this Rise Tutorial page for additional information.

Registration for RISE

For RISE, register for BIOL-341 in the fall for 3 credits and BIOL-342 in the spring for 3 credits. Learn more information about RISE