Undergraduate Neuroscience Research

Guidelines for Undergraduate Neuroscience Research- How to Find a Neuroscience Research Lab

The goal of a neuroscience research experience for undergraduates is to build upon the basic neuroscience knowledge obtained in the introductory prerequisite courses. An appropriate research lab will
allow a student to test a hypothesis, and develop experimental and critical thinking skills that will enable extension and modification of the hypothesis based on experimental results. The research experience should be synergistic with coursework: course knowledge will enable the student to better understand the work in the lab, whereas the lab work will make material presented in courses relevant and real. 
 
Laboratories in which Neuroscience research can be performed as listed here. Neuroscience-related research projects can also be found in other laboratories across campus. A student planning to perform a Neuroscience research project in one of these laboratories should consult the Program Director as to the appropriateness of the project.
Projects that involve observation of clinical procedures and collation of data from clinical trials are generally not appropriate for undergraduate Neuroscience research.
 
With these guidelines in mind, you should look for faculty who conduct basic research in areas of neuroscience that interest/excite you.  Once you have identified a list of possible research mentors, send each one an email to inquire about research opportunities.  In this email, include information about yourself: your year at UVA, how well you’re doing in UVA science classes, why are you interested in doing research, what it is about this faculty member's research that interests you, and whether you have relevant course and/or research experience. You might even want to attach a copy of your transcript.
 
Space in neuroscience research labs is competitive, so make sure that you contact enough faculty.

Regulatory Issues For Students Working With Animals or Human Subject Research

These regulatory approvals can take considerable time to process- make sure your lab initiates the approval process for you early to avoid delays.
 
Work with live animals requires Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) approval prior to initiating research. ‘Animals’ in this context includes all animals with a spine. For additional information contact your research mentor and this link: http://www.virginia.edu/vpr/iacuc/
 
Human subject research requires specific Institutional Review Board (IRB) approvals prior to initiating research.  Human subject research includes research with living subjects and work with human-derived data that can potentially be identifiable. For more specifics, contact your research mentor and this link: http://www.virginia.edu/vpr/irb/hsr/activities_require_review.html

Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Courses:

NESC 3995: Research in Neuroscience. For non-Neuroscience Majors.
NESC 3960 (3rd Year), 4960 (4th Year):  Research in Neuroscience. For Neuroscience Majors.
NESC 4970, 4980: Distinguished Majors Thesis. For Neuroscience Distinguished Majors.
 

Scholarship and Fellowship Opportunities

Please visit the Center for Undergraduate Excellence's page for opportunities for Scholarships and Fellowships or their Undergraduate Research page for grants and finding research opportunities.