Independent Student Research

Many students seek a more thorough grounding in independent research than can be obtained in class or internship. The goal is to assist the student to eventually be able to work at the same level as would be expected of a graduate student. This experience is especially important for those considering research careers and graduate training at the master’s and doctoral levels. Supervised research is also valuable for preprofessional students with a serious interest in research.

The biology department is very proud of the research opportunities afforded to those who have, by interest and performance, earned the opportunity. Each year, the results of a number of these studies are published in scholarly journals with the students as co-authors. Moreover, many faculty also take students to national meetings of professional societies, often with partial or even full financial support from the College.

The following is a list of ways that students obtain independent research experience at Holy Cross:

  • Conduct supervised research with a member of the biology department faculty during the academic year. This is the heart of our student research program. Typically these projects last one or two semesters and they are usually done for the same academic credit as a lab course. The projects are designed together with the faculty sponsor and are meant to take full advantage of the faculty member's expertise and equipment. This program is open to all qualified students. Often the work is part of a College Honors Program or a concentration thesis but in even more cases, the student is not a member of any of these programs.
  • Work with a faculty member at another Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts institution. Most commonly, our students work with faculty members at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. Usually these opportunities grow out of connections between Holy Cross and UMass Med faculty members or out of student internship or volunteer work at UMass Med.
  • Work with a faculty member outside of the biology department. This may or may not involve credit toward the biology major but, regardless, it usually provides full course credits toward graduation. Most commonly, this option is taken by biology majors who are also members of the biochemistry concentration. Students who are members of that program and who plan to do research outside of the department are urged to check with the departmental chair about credit before the research starts.
  • Take part in summer research. There are many summer programs where students are exposed to research at other institutions. Typically, these are for rising juniors although sometimes sophomores are sometimes accepted. They pay a stipend and often a housing allowance. Holy Cross also maintains such a program. It is administered through the Office of the Science Coordinator.

For all of these programs, application is normally in the early spring semester. Application for the Holy Cross program is done in conjunction with a faculty sponsor. Note: Although these are typically excellent research experiences, academic credit is not normally given. However, especially with the projects done at Holy Cross, it is not uncommon for them to continue into the academic year as normal student research.