So, you want to do undergraduate research?

I guide a variety of student research projects every year, and encourage students to reach out to discuss potential common interests. Visit my Research page to see my research priorities.

I have 2 main projects that I am currently focused on:

  • Restoring biodiversity at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve
  • Ecology of biological soil crusts in northeastern barrens

While it is not a hard-and-fast requirement, I am more likely to agree to advise a student with whom I have had experience, such as in one of my classes. I do require that Senior Thesis students enroll in my Plant Ecology (BIO324) at some point during your career – there is no better way of learning the areas of science that I am interested in.

Research in my lab can take many forms:

  • Biology Research Practicum (BIO291-293) – The Practicum is a way of getting experience doing research with me without the same time demands of a formal thesis. I expect Practicum students to devote 3-5 hours per week, including time meeting with me, on their work. Students receive one course’s worth of credit (though not Biology Major credit) after taking 3 terms.
  • Summer Research Fellowships – Union College has generous funding to support student research during the summer. These can be in the form of either 4- or 8-week Fellowships. The deadline to apply for Summer Research Fellowships is in early February, but it is important that we start planning by the middle of January, at the latest.
  • Independent Study – I have advised a variety of one-term projects focused on a finite issue or question.
  • Senior Thesis Research – This is the most extensive of the research opportunities at Union College. It involves a significant time commitment and result in an original piece of scholarship. I advise projects in both the Biology and also Environmental Science Departments. I only take 1-2 students per year, though, and I often make my decisions quite early.

What to do before you come and talk to me:

  • You’re in the right place. See what my research interests are. Think about areas where our interests overlap. It isn’t necessary to know what specific project you want to do before you come and talk to me. But you should already have some idea of what I do and what you find most interesting.
  • The earlier we begin discussions the better.
  • A variety of backgrounds and areas of knowledge can be useful in the kind of research that I do. Of particular interest would be experience with computer coding (e.g. Python or R), GIS, or statistics.
  • I highly recommend this essay by Vikkram Chhatre, which offer tips and advise for all stages of undergraduate research – choosing an advisor and topic, how to succeed, etc.

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