Hands-on Experience & Research Opportunities

There are several opportunities available to undergraduates for exploring science and gaining practical research experience in a laboratory. Such opportunities are valuable because:

  • they allow students to determine whether scientific research might be a possible career path, and if so, which particular discipline(s) within the sciences interest them most. 
  • it looks good on a resumé and can help with finding employment post graduation
  • some graduate programs require honours degrees in order to be considered for entry

Honours Program

Part of the Honours Program involves carrying out your own research project.

Co-op (Work Study) Program

Co-op work terms may involve research but always include hands-on experience.

BIOL 396 – Independent Research in Biology

This three credit hour, one semester course is intended as an introduction to independent research. Under the direct supervision of a Biology faculty member, students undertake a well-defined research project suitable for completion in one semester. A written report, similar to organization to a scientific article, is part of the requirements. 


The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) provides Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA), which allow students to experience and explore research in a laboratory. These awards are meant to encourage students to pursue graduate studies and eventually, a research career. These awards are typically held in the Spring/Summer semester, but may also be held in either the Fall or Winter semesters, and generally require a 4 month commitment.


Many professors hire students to assist them with their research, especially during the Spring/Summer semester; keep an eye out for ads posted around the department. As well, there are frequently science-related summer job opportunities available outside of universities, including with private companies and government agencies.  Start looking early (e.g. January) and you don’t necessarily have to wait for an ad to appear.  As well, the U of R’s Student Employment Services maintains a list of job opportunities.

Also, check out the Biology Department's employment posting.