Skip to main content

Mentored Research

Ready to make your own discoveries? Mentored research (MMBIO 294R) allows students to make original, research-based discoveries under the supervision of a faculty member.

What is Mentored Research?

Mentored research (MMBIO 294R) allows students to make original research-based discoveries under the supervision of a faculty mentor. This hands-on experience requires independent thought, effective time management, and hard work. Outcomes of a successful 294R research experience include the mastery of new techniques, generation of original discoveries, production of formal scientific papers and presentations, and a new network of scientifically inclined faculty and student colleagues.

Course requirements for MMBIO 294R can be found by clicking here. Students taking the course will be expected to:

  1. Complete required safety training
  2. Report worked hours weekly (at least 3 hours of work/week for each credit hour)
  3. Complete a grant, written report, or present work at a scientific meeting

Finding a Lab

There are a variety of labs to work in in the MMBio department. You will need to find a professor who is conducting research in an area that interests you. Remember that faculty members can only effectively mentor a limited number of students, so it is important to find a lab that is truly interesting for you. You'll enjoy your experience more, be more productive, and have a better chance of getting into the lab. Professors appreciate sincere interest and don't relish the idea of working with a student who only wants to get into their lab to strengthen their resume or medical school application.

Tips on how to successfully approach professors about mentored research:
1. Approach the professor in a professional way, such as sending an introduction email expressing interest and proposing a time to briefly meet to discuss possibilities. Click here for the faculty directory.
2. Know ahead of time about the research carried out in the desired lab, so that the professor senses the genuine intent of the student to be involved. Click here to learn about the labs.
3. Have appropriate coursework background (such as introductory-level micro and molecular courses) and competitive grades.
4. Approach several professors in parallel, to increase the probability that a good fit will be found.

Be appreciative of the time the professors take to talk with you. Because of space limitations, you may have to try several different labs before finding a spot.

Lab Expectations

Upon finding a spot in a lab, work hard and demonstrate that you are there to contribute. Working in a lab is different than taking a class, you need to treat it like a job and take responsibility to move your project forward. This will require you to work hard, be dependable, learn the lab techniques, find and read papers relevant to your project, and to be a problem solver. In addition, students conducting research under faculty with adequate funds are occasionally hired as research assistants.

If you can become an expert on your project topic and be productive in running experiments, your research experience will be rewarding for you now and your future career.

Become a Research Assistant

Research Assistants are students conducting laboratory research for wages. These wages are funded by the supervising professor, and therefore the assistantship is arranged between the student and the professor. Students typically earn between $11.50 and $15 per hour as research assistants. It is often the case that a student pursues mentored research for credit (MMBIO 294R or MMBIO 494R) in the research lab for a time prior to becoming a lab assistant in that same lab.

Student Projects

In order to make the most of your work, you'll want to present your research to the scientific community. You can publish an article or present at a conference.

Bryce Anderson and Brian Ballard from the Weber Lab and Hyrum Shumway from the Johnson Lab recently presented their work at the Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research (UCUR) in Logan, Utah. They each made posters summarizing their discoveries and spent time explaining their work to other scientists attending the conference.