The Department of Neuroscience encourages interested undergraduate majors to gain research experience within an active neuroscience laboratory. Most undergraduates who enroll in research for credit are interested in completing an independent project that results in an undergraduate thesis.
Finding a lab
- Identify the specific areas of neuroscience that are of greatest interest to you.
- Access the Center for Neuroscience website and look for labs that conduct research in your area of interest.
- Attend natural sciences club meetings and talk to fellow students and presenters.
- Visit the Experiential Learning Office located in B-4 THAW Hall.
- Register with Career Services in 224 WPU to access the internship listings.
- Talk with your instructors.
- For additional information, read our PDF
After you identify area(s) of interest
- Read the research descriptions of the faculty labs you have identified as most interesting. Look over a few of the journal articles they have published, paying particular attention to the “methods” section. Are these the kinds of experiments you can imagine yourself doing?
- Contact the primary investigators and ask if there are openings in their labs. Explain specifically why you are interested in their research area.
Once you find an open lab position
- Students sometimes perform lab research without course credit. However, the Department still needs to have a record of your project and your faculty sponsor. Please fill out the Non-Credit Research Form (see link at right) and have it approved by the Department of Neuroscience.
- If you would like to receive course credit for your work, you need to obtain the permission of the sponsoring faculty member and register for NROSCI 1901 (Independent Study) or 1961 (Thesis Research). Students typically begin by registering for 1901. If your early work is successful, and if the faculty sponsor agrees, you can then progress to thesis research.
- Determine how much time you have during the week to devote to lab work. This will determine the number of research credits you can register for (4 to 5 hours per week per credit).
- Complete a New Research Form (see link at right) with your faculty mentor and have it approved by the Department of Neuroscience.
- Return the completed, signed form to the advising office (A206 Langley Hall) for a permission number to enroll.
Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Courses:
NROSCI 1901, Independent Study NROSCI 1901 Form
This course is intended as the first research experience in a laboratory. Students typically immerse themselves in the research that is ongoing in the laboratory, attend laboratory meetings, meet frequently with the faculty mentor to discuss research and acquire skills necessary for doing original research in the laboratory. If the student decides to continue research and do a thesis, the student will begin to focus on the hypotheses he wants to investigate and begin designing the requisite experiments. Of course, this is all done in close collaboration with the faculty mentor and is usually an integral part of, or a related tangent, from the mentor’s current research focus.
NROSCI 1961, Thesis Research NROSCI 1961 Form
Students enroll in this course if they plan to continue research that culminates in a thesis. Students perform the experiments that will form the basis of the thesis; attend lab meetings and have regular meetings with their faculty mentor. This course is typically taken for at least two terms, although the length depends on the specific project.
NROSCI 1962, Thesis Writing Practicum NROSCI 1962 Form
This course will fulfill the departmental writing course requirement. The student is usually enrolled concurrently in NROSCI 1961 and has collected the majority of the data needed to write the thesis. The student will need to complete a Thesis Writing Practicum Agreement to register for this course. The student will also need to select a committee composed of the faculty mentor and at least one other faculty member to act as a thesis reader. One member of the committee must be a primary faculty member from the Department of Neuroscience.
Students must submit completed, signed, approved forms to the link posted each term on our canvas news and events page, https://neuroscience.pitt.edu/programs/undergraduate-program/research-opportunities/research-forms. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.