Research Opportunities in Biology

Colgate’s biology program is distinctive in that undergraduate students conduct graduate-level research directly with their professors.

Curricular Research

Research Tutorials

Part of the regular curriculum, biology research tutorials are courses enrolling six to eight students from the junior and senior classes. These students work independently or collaboratively in the lab throughout the semester to address questions within the scope of a faculty member’s research.

At the conclusion of each semester, both the students and faculty members present their research in a departmental poster session, where students and faculty from both the department and the rest of campus review and discuss their findings over pizza.

Independent Studies

Students who participate in a biology research tutorial, or who simply have a targeted research interest, may have the opportunity to pursue that research further via independent studies. Students earn one credit for each semester of independent study. Students coordinate such independent studies with their academic or research adviser.

Paid Research Positions

Paid research positions on campus do not earn academic credit, but they can provide incredibly valuable, resume-building experiences. They allow students to engage deeply with high-level academic research, often across multiple semesters.

During the Semester

Paid student research positions are also available in some faculty members’ labs. Many of these opportunities stem from curricular research, and in some cases, students may even be eligible to begin in their first year. Students interested in these positions should speak directly with the faculty member. Paid research positions are not eligible for academic credit. Students who wish to earn academic credit for their research should consult with their research adviser regarding the possibility an independent study.

Summer Research

Each summer, a number of students remain on campus to conduct funded research in collaboration with, and under the supervision of the biology department faculty. Projects may originate with the faculty, who may propose projects and seek student collaborators, or with students, who may propose projects to execute under the guidance of a supervising faculty member. The possibilities, therefore, are limitless.

Faculty Research Areas


Research Area Faculty Member(s)
Freshwater ecology Fuller
Terrestrial ecology McCay
Behavioral ecology Ingram
Physiological ecology Pruitt
Evolutionary ecology Frey
Environmental health and disease ecology Frey
Ecosystem ecology Cardelús
Community ecology Cardelús, McCay
Plant ecology Cardelús, Watkins

Cellular and Molecular Biology

Research Area Faculty Member(s)
Regulation of gene expression Hoopes, Van Wynsberghe, Ay, Holm, Hagos
Eukaryotic cell biology Belanger, Hagos, Meyers
Application of molecular techniques in evolution and ecology McHugh, Ingram, Frey
Viral pathogenesis and innate immunity Holm
Cancer biology Hagos
Stem cell and regenerative biology Meyers
Eukaryotic developmental biology Van Wynsberghe, Ay

Organismal and Evolutionary Biology

Research Area Faculty Member(s)
Systematics and phylogeny McHugh
Plant evolutionary genetics Frey
Evolution of development McHugh
Physiology of ferns Watkins
Social behavior Ingram

Facilities and Resources

High-level academic research requires high-level research facilities, tools, and resources. Faculty and student researchers in biology are supported by state-of-the-art laboratories.

Biology facilities & resources