FSU - Biological Science

Department of Biological Science

at Florida State University

Undergraduate Research

Doing research as an undergraduate will enrich your experience at FSU by connecting you to your field and to the faculty and graduate students in the department. Undergraduate research experience will also improve your chances for admission into graduate schools and medical, dental and veterinary schools. Undergraduates can become involved in research in several ways. The UROP program allows students to begin doing research in their freshman and sophomore years. Or, you can do Directed Independent Study (DIS) doing research with a faculty member and get credits toward your Biological Science major. And finally, there is Honors in the Major, which is similar to DIS work but involves writing and defending a thesis at the end of your project.

Directed Independent Study (DIS, BSC 4900, BSC 4901 and BSC 4910)

DIS allows students to work in a faculty member's lab, participating in their research. Students register for BSC 4900. This course is repeatable; students usually register for 2 or 3 hours per semester. Up to 12 hours of DIS can be applied to your BS degree but only 6 hours can be applied to the major. If you want to do a DIS you must first find a faculty member with whom to work. Once a faculty member has agreed to be your sponsor, you will need to meet with an undergraduate adviser to set up your DIS credit on your course schedule. Some faculty list DIS opportunities on our website (http://www.bio.fsu.edu/undergrad/researchops.php) but most students find a faculty DIS sponsor by reading about what individual faculty are working on and then approaching individual faculty. DIS research is not limited to Biological Science faculty, you can work with faculty in other departments. Many biology students work with faculty in Biomedical Science Chemistry and Psychology . If you work with a faculty member outside of biology remember to register for the DIS through the biology course number BSC 4900 if you want to have the credits count toward your Biological Science major. If you register using a chemistry or psychology or other course number, those credits will count toward your degree but not toward your major.

If you do two consecutive semesters of DIS in the same faculty member's lab those hours will not only count toward you biology elective hours but they can also be used to satisfy one of the required upper division laboratories by signing up for BSC 4901 your second semester of DIS. If you do two semesters of DIS in the same faculty member's lab and write a paper at the end of your project you can have the DIS work substitute for the BSC 3402L requirement (Experimental Biology Laboratory) by signing up for BSC 4910 your second semester of DIS work. Remember though, if you use DIS work to substitute for BSC 3402L you will have to meet the University speech requirement in some other way. See the advising office for details.

Please see the current bulletin for a more detailed course description and requirements for BSC 4900, 4901 and 4910 credit, and talk with an adviser in the undergraduate advising office prior to general registration about enrolling in these courses.

Honors in the Major

The Department of Biological Science offers an Honors In The Major program to encourage talented juniors and seniors to undertake independent, original research as a part of the undergraduate experience. Honors in the Major differs from DIS in that the students do two to four consecutive semesters of research with a faculty member and write and defend a thesis at end of their project. Students who successfully complete Honors in the Major have "Honors in the Major in Biological Science" added to their transcript and "With Honors in Biological Science" on their diploma.

Students who participate in Honors In The Major become members of the University Honors Program and are eligible for all program activities and other benefits. Honors In The Major students are also eligible, on a space-available basis, for honors-only liberal studies courses. Each term that an honors student is in the program, the student enrolls in BSC 4970r: Honors Work in Biological Science for 3 semester hours. To allow sufficient time to complete the scientific research and write the Honors Thesis, the course is repeatable to a maximum of 12 semester hours, 6 hours of which can be used to meet the 38-hour biological science coursework requirement.

Biological science majors who are interested in the Honors In The Major program may apply if they have:

  • Completed at least 60, typically 75, college credits
  • Earned a 3.2 cumulative grade point average (GPA) on all course work (including transfer credits)
  • Earned a 3.2 GPA on at least twelve (12) semester hours of coursework at FSU.

General information on the Honors In The Major program or admittance criteria can be obtained by contacting the University Honors Program at A5400 University Center, 850-644-1841.

For specific information on applying to the Honors in the Biology Major program, biological sciences students are encouraged to contact Dr. Janie Wulff, Director of Honors In The Major for the Department of Biological Science (4075 King Building; wulff@bio.fsu.edu).

For more information about the program, visit http://honorsinthemajor.fsu.edu/

Profiles of Some Recent Students Involved in Research

Research Facilities

Along with undergraduate teaching and graduate student training, research is strongly emphasized in the Department of Biological Science. The department is internationally noted for its research programs. Fully equipped research laboratories are located in four buildings on campus (King Building, Biological Science Unit I, Institute of Molecular Biophysics, and Biomedical Research Building). On-campus research facilities include Biological Science Imaging Resource facility (including scanning and transmission electron microscopes, a quantitative fluorescence microscope, and a laser scanning confocal microscope). A recently installed Titan Krios electron microscope (one of only six in the U.S.) is equipped for high-resolution 3-D cryomicroscopy of unstained protein molecules and subcellular structures. Researchers also have access to radioisotope instrumentation laboratories, an X-ray diffraction laboratory, the Monoclonal Antibody Laboratory, the Analytical Laboratory, the DNA sequencing facility, and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. Special service facilities include special culture chambers, greenhouses, machine and electronics shops, animal housing, ultracentrifuges, cold laboratories, sterile laboratories, and shielded electrophysiological laboratories. Significant research collections of microorganisms and of birds are also maintained on campus and the department supports a herbarium containing about 200,000 specimens. Off-campus research facilities include the FSU Marine Laboratory on the Gulf of Mexico, and the Mission Road Greenhouse. The privately endowed Tall Timbers Research Station is located just north of Tallahassee.


Internships are off campus activities related to biological science and or the allied health professions. Please visit the Internship page for details on Internships.