Our lab recognizes the value of providing experiences for undergraduate participation in research. We offer many unique opportunities for undergraduate students to gain hands-on research experience through immersion in the process of science. Students see the process through from start to finish by visiting the literature to find an area of research that piques their curiosity, determining what is known and where there are gaps in the research, developing a research question and hypotheses, designing and carrying out experiments, analyzing results, and presenting research to other lab members or at a research conference.
When students first begin conducting research, members of the lab provide guidance through pairings with graduate students and frequent discussions with Dr. Williamson. As students become more familiar with their research topic, they become more comfortable working independently. Weekly lab meetings facilitate discussion of lab research projects and provide valuable feedback from other lab members. Independent Study Research can be conducted for credit by registering for BIO 320 (for grade), or BIO 277, 377, and 477 (credit/no credit, specific course depends on year in school).
Undergraduate Summer Scholar Program
Summer research opportunities also are available for undergraduate students. Miami University offers research credit and funding for summer research projects through the Undergraduate Summer Scholar (USS) program. As participants in the USS program, students conduct a 9-week research project. In the Global Change Limnology Lab, this often involves travel to some spectacular field sites during a portion of that 9-week period. Recipients of USS awards earn 6 research credits as well as a stipend and funding for research materials and travel. Because 9 weeks often isn’t enough time to become familiar with the literature and appropriate techniques related to an in-depth research project, students are encouraged to sign up for 1-3 research credits during the spring semester prior to their USS research experience so they can hit the ground running when the 9-week research period begins. Most students also benefit from a follow-up project in the fall during which they analyze their data and are involved in writing up their work for a paper that often is part of a larger publication. Visit the Undergraduates page to learn more about past student research projects.
From May through August, the Global Change Limnology Lab is busy collecting large amounts of data and numerous samples from the field that must be analyzed and processed throughout the school year. During the academic year, undergraduates often are hired to help with these tasks as well as culture maintenance and helping the lab manager with other general lab tasks. To inquire about available positions, contact Erin Overholt.
Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows
Dr. Williamson advises graduate students seeking Master’s or PhD degrees and frequently supports postdoctoral fellows. PhD students have the opportunity to work towards a degree in the Department of Biology or the new Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (EEEB) program. The EEEB program enables PhD students to cross disciplines through partnerships with a variety of departments, including Biology, Microbiology, Geology, and Geography. Contact Dr. Williamson if you’re interested in pursuing a graduate degree or learning more about postdoctoral opportunities in the Global Change Limnology Lab. Visit Miami University’s Graduate School web site to find out more about the the university’s graduate program.