Information for Bioc 310 Faculty Advisors and Research Mentors

Thank you for your interest in working with Rice undergraduate researchers. The following information is to help current and prospective research advisors understand the expectations of and for our student researchers.

Finding a Rice undergraduate researcher: Rice students may approach you, unsolicited, asking to work in your lab. If you have not been approached but are interested in hosting Rice undergraduate researchers, please email the Bioc 310 instructor with the type and number of openings. If you are not the head of your lab, please have your faculty advisor/professor/PI contact the Bioc 310 instructor to confirm his/her interest in hosting an undergraduate in the lab. A more formal system for posting opportunities is under development.

For credit or for pay? Rice students may perform research for course credit in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology as long as they are not being paid for their work and have a project that falls under the broad description of biochemistry or cell biology laboratory research (not simply lab maintenance such as making media or washing glassware). The students must work in a research laboratory and will not receive credit for physician shadowing or other clinical or hospital activities. When a student contacts one of our faculty members they usually discuss what each wants (hours in lab, type of work, credit or pay, etc.). Some faculty only take for-credit students, while some, if they want a part-time lab technician, prefer to pay them hourly. Students usually work for course credit (unpaid) during the year and for pay during the summer.

Bioc 310 requirements in brief: In addition to their research, Bioc 310 students are required to prepare a research proposal abstract early in the semester, weekly reports throughout the semester, and a final project, either a paper (fall semester) or poster (spring semester) for their professor. Students performing research off-campus copy the Bioc 310 instructor, who functions as their on-campus advisor, on all assignments including weekly reports. For students working in off-campus labs, the off-campus professor provides grade input to the on-campus instructor, who provides the final grade for the student.

Each semester is around 14 weeks long (not counting vacations). Students must spend at least 3 hours working in lab per week for each credit they receive and can take the course for 1 to 4 credits (3-12 hours/week). We recommend that students start by taking the course for 3 credits (9 hr/week). It is hard to accomplish anything in lab with fewer than 9 hours/week and some faculty do not host students who wish to take the course for only 1 or 2 credits. Students doing research off-campus are required to register for at least 3 credits. There is no limit on the number of semesters that Bioc 310 can be repeated for credit.

Hosting a student: To have a productive experience, students need a research mentor, someone in the lab who is available to advise them on a daily basis. This person might be the professor if he or she spends a lot of time in the lab, or a patient graduate student, post doc, or other experienced individual who is interested in educating undergraduate researchers. If the student is mentored by someone other than the professor, the student also should be able to meet with the professor at least once a week to talk about their progress and plans. In their first semester, most undergraduates require more time of their professor and research mentor than they give back. In subsequent semesters, however, they often become more independent and some function at the level of part-time graduate students.

Bioc 310 students are entitled to all Rice University vacations and holidays, but we ask that they prepare for their leave by informing their lab and not leaving unfinished work for others to juggle.

Posting openings: Faculty interested in recruiting Rice undergraduate researchers may send an ad containing the lab's focus, potential projects for students, number of openings, required experience (if any), compensation (volunteer, course credit or pay) and contact information. Ads will be posted to our list and left up until we are notified that your positions are filled. If you would like to submit an opportunity or have any questions or comments, please contact the Bioc 310 instructor, Dr. Dereth Phillips, (Note: Dereth will be on sabbatical from June 15, 2015-August, 2016. Dr. Susan Cates,, will be the coordinating instructor for BIOC 310 during that time.)


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Bioc 310 more info:

Bioc 310 is coordinated with Bioc 115 as part of Reading to Research, a project designed to lead students from the scientific literature to participation in laboratory research. The Reading to Research program is funded through an HHMI Professor grant awarded to Bonnie Bartel.