Plan 2—Advanced Independent Research

Path 2 is intended for students who are interested in fulfilling their degree requirements by conducting independent research in a faculty mentor’s laboratory.  Undergraduates engage in at least two-quarters of letter-graded research (196A and 196B) and concurrently participate in research seminars (180A and 180B) designed to help students acquire in-depth and broad knowledge about their research project.  Students achieve this goal by evaluating relevant scientific literature, as well as orally presenting and formally writing about their research progress.  Students who meet the eligibility requirements must submit their application and begin Path 2 coursework in their third year.  Students also should discuss the application process with faculty mentors, together designing a research project to be described in the proposal submitted with other Path 2 application materials.

Fulfilling Major Requirements via Path 2 

Students interested in an independent research experience in a MIMG faculty member‘s laboratory may fulfill their major requirements by completing at least two consecutive quarters of faculty-mentored research (196A and 196B) coupled to participation in concurrent research seminars (180A and 180B).  This option is well-suited for students who develop an interest in research after completing requisite courses in Chemistry and Core Biology.  Students who pursue this path must begin no later than their third year.  Exceptions may be made for transfer students.  Students must meet the eligibility requirements and APPLY for Path 2.  Not all applications are approved.


Students read and discuss scientific articles and give presentations, introducing research topics using relevant primary literature.  Class activities also highlight critical aspects of the research process, including record keeping, ethics, laboratory safety and citizenry, mechanics of scientific writing, diverse approaches to research, and project responsibilities and ownership.  Emphasis is on students acquiring in-depth and broad knowledge about their research projects, improving oral and written communication skills, and developing a full appreciation of the process of doing good science and becoming skilled researchers.
Enforced co-requisite: course 196A.

Students give presentations similar to research symposium talk in which speakers discuss project goals, methodological approaches, results, and conclusions. Emphasis is on learning how to write research papers as well as prepare and present scientific posters.  The end goal is for students to produce deliverables that demonstrate research achievements and lead to publications.  These experiences should create a sense of pride for the work accomplished as skilled researchers.
Enforced co-requisite: course 196A.

Designed for undergraduates who are interested in pursuing inquiry-based and hypothesis-driven research experience in the laboratory of a faculty mentor.  This is a guided research course that must be performed in conjunction with a seminar (MIMG 180A) and it is followed by a continuation research course (course ).  The technical aspects of the course will vary depending upon the specific laboratory; however, all students will learn how to apply the scientific method, that is: propose a hypothesis, identify experiments to address the hypothesis, perform experiments and analyze results.  Students also will learn how to record information from experimental activities into laboratory notebooks, to present their research in laboratory meetings, and to write a research progress report.
Enforced co-requisite: course 180A.

This course follows 196A with the objective to expand the scope, increase the depth and implement independence in research.  Undergraduates should perform this course in the same laboratory where they had performed 196A to facilitate learning and implementation of the goals stated previously.  The course must be taken in conjunction with a seminar  (MIMG 180B).  The technical aspects of the course will vary depending upon the specific laboratory, however, all students will use the scientific method (learned in course 196A) and continue the same experimental scope proposed, but with additional degree of independence in technical and intellectual aspects of the research.  Students will present their research in laboratory meetings and write a final research report.
Enforced co-requisite: course 180B.

Path 2 Eligibility Requirements

Eligible students must apply for approval by the departmental curriculum committee to participate in Path 2.  Applications must be submitted to the MIMG Undergraduate Student Affairs Officer (1602B MSB) by Friday of week 5 of the preceding quarter in which you plan to begin Path 2 courses 196A and 180A.  Approved students who complete Path 2 requirements will not be required to enroll in Path 1 courses.

  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Have completed or are in the process of completing a Research Acquaintance (RA) experience in a MIMG research laboratory.  The RA may be a 99/SRP, 199 (Letter grade only), or volunteer research experience in a lab for a minimum of 10 hrs per week for at least 10 weeks.

Tips on Finding a Faculty Research Mentor

Students need to take the initiative in the search for a faculty mentor, taking the time necessary to consider multiple faculty members and their research areas. To ensure a suitable match for independent research with a faculty mentor, students are encouraged to follow these steps:

  1. Students must select a faculty advisor in MIMG or from an approved trainer list.
  2. Send an e-mail to the faculty member doing research that interests you most to request an interview to discuss your intention of doing research in his/her laboratory.  Most students will need to contact up to 10 different faculty members to find a position in a laboratory.

Plan 2 Application 

The following forms must be submitted to the MIMG Undergraduate Office via email ( by 12:00 pm on Friday of 5th week of the preceding quarter in which you plan to begin Path 2 courses 196A and 180A

  1. Research Project Proposal (see Guidelines and Proposal Sample - PDF)
  2. Undergraduate Researcher Acknowledgement Form
  3. Faculty Mentoring Agreement

Path 2 applications are sent to students via the MIMG listserv. To subscribe to the MIMG listserv:  Send an email to

The policies and requirements described here supersede those on the 196 contract itself.  In other words, if you read something here but see conflicting information on the contract and aren’t sure which is correct, go by what you read here!

These application materials will be reviewed by the departmental curriculum committee.  Students and faculty advisors will be notified of approval status within 2–3 weeks of submitting an application.  It is advised that students have a back-up plan for the subsequent quarter (i.e., enroll in classes assuming they will NOT be approved for Path 2).

  • If the application is approved, then the MIMG Undergraduate Advisor will enroll the student in 196A and one section of 180A.
  • If the application is not approved, then students must fulfill major requirements via Path 1.  However, depending on the recommendations of the committee, students may still do independent research, opting instead to enroll in 199 for elective credit.