Research Opportunities

Students can get involved in research during any or all of their four years on campus.  Many of our laboratory courses have multi-week to semester-long research projects that can help you figure out what fields of research are most attractive to you. 

Finding research opportunities on campus

The first and most important step is to choose your research area and your project advisor. The bulletin board between McC111 and McC116 as well as the link below will introduce you to the various research areas of the Biology faculty.  Talk to faculty whose research is of interest as well as your advisor about getting involved in research.

Faculty research areas 

From your examination of this list and from other sources of information about each faculty member's interests (courses, readings, or from talking with other students and faculty), approach one or more of the faculty and discuss the possibilities. Don’t be shy: we expect you to come and talk!

In addition to research opportunities during the academic year,  the Cross-disciplinary Science Institute at Gettysburg College (X-SIG) runs an 8-week summer research program with paid fellowships.

Some students complete their Senior capstone by enrolling in a Bio 460 – Individualized Study-Research during their senior year. You must choose your faculty project advisor as early as possible, at least in the semester preceding that of the project. Some faculty or some projects require a two-semester commitment to research.

The types of projects that each faculty member will advise and a list of 460 projects that faculty have recently directed can be found in the Student Research Guide.

Once you have determined you want to do a Bio 460, directly ask the faculty member if they will serve as your project advisor. While all faculty will accept 460 students, there are limits to the number of students that each faculty member can advise. If you start your search late, it is possible that the project advisor with whom you want to work will have a full load and cannot accept you. The faculty member may suggest that you do the project in another semester or work with another advisor. Don't take a refusal personally!

Finding research opportunities off campus

Off-campus summer programs can offer exposure to areas of research not available at Gettysburg as well as give you a close-up view of the kind of research university you might attend for graduate school. You’ll be working in close proximity with graduate students, so you’ll get a good feel for what the life of a graduate student is like. However, the programs are generally very short (about 2 months), and practically even shorter, considering travel, move-in, and adjustment to living in a new place on your own. Keep in mind that this constraint can greatly restrict project possibilities - it is very rare (though not impossible!) to accrue enough data to publish or present at a scientific conference. If you are in a big lab, you'll often be working much more closely with a graduate student than with a professor.

In exploring off-campus summer research programs, you also want to start looking early. A multitude of institutions around the country each admit a small group of students (usually 6-12) to spend 2-3 months over the summer designing and executing a research project with a faculty advisor. Travel and housing are usually covered and stipends cover food and living expenses. The websites listed below contain lists of such programs at various universities all across the country, and these are a good place to start looking. Application deadlines for these programs are typically early in the spring semester (January or February), though this can vary.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals Summer Research Internship

Gettysburg College has a special relationship with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which invites multiple Gettysburg students to serve as research interns each summer. The goal of the program is to give undergraduate students experience working in a large pharmaceutical R&D laboratory and to gain a basic understanding of the science of novel drug development.

Interns are paired with a scientific mentor in the Oncology, Discovery, or Translational Sciences groups and have the opportunity to do hands-on research as part of the prostate cancer, lung cancer, hematologic malignancies, or immuno-oncology teams. Each intern has their own project, developed jointly with their mentor, involving learning new aspects of disease biology and ways to identify novel therapeutics, and/or determining the mechanism of action behind emerging drugs. Students receive detailed training on the technology platforms (e.g. ELISA, PCR, DNA sequencing, flow cytometry, cell-based assays) and analytical methods required for their project. Each intern is expected to present the results of their work at the end of the internship.

The summer internships are compensated and students not living close to the Janssen campus in Spring House, PA will also be eligible for a housing allowance to cover accommodation costs over the summer. The internships begin in late May and typically last for 12 weeks.

Students need to have completed two years of classes before the internship and to have experience in molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, immunology or similar fields. A call for applications is sent out via e-mail in January each year. Applications are typically due in mid-late February to the Gettysburg coordinator, Dr. Jennifer Powell.