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BMB 490 and BMB 499

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

undergrad research opportunities

The MSU Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology offers
two courses that give students practical research experience:
  • BMB 490 is Independent Study offered Fall, Spring and Summer.
  • BMB 499 is Independent Study culminating in a senior thesis.
  • 1 to 4 credits are possible for BMB 490 and 2 to 8 credits are possible for BMB 499.
  • Total credits in BMB 490 and BMB 499 may not exceed 12.
  • Approval of department required
  • 3 hour per week minimum = 1 credit

Students enrolled in BMB 490 and BMB 499 do independent research under the supervision of a faculty mentor.

The requirements for an independent research project for BMB 490 are negotiated with the faculty mentor.

The requirements for the BMB 499 senior thesis are as follows:

A senior thesis is typically conducted over two semesters of 2 to 3 credits per semester (you are not required to enroll for 2 semesters if you have already done BMB 490 in a prior semester or have already been doing research prior to the semester you wish to enroll for). Students will conduct significant laboratory research and then present their research at the UURAF event in April or another "pre-approved" similar officially designated presentation forum/event etc.... The senior thesis is a capstone experience and can be used to replace the BMB 495 requirement (this applies to College of Natural Science students ONLY and NOT Lyman Briggs students). Students will write a thesis based on their research. The thesis will include references to original literature in biochemistry, molecular biology, and related fields. The thesis should be at minimum 15 pages long (inclusive) and up to 25 pages long and include a significant survey of the field (2 pages minimum) based on original literature. The thesis will be assessed by two professors (at least one of these two individuals MUST be from BMB); the student’s mentor and another person whom the student will choose at the beginning of the semester. Upon review of the thesis by these two individuals, students will be required to submit a revised thesis based on their comments. If you do choose to enroll for two semesters at the end of your first semester, you will receive an "ET - Extension" grade which will carry your work into the next semester.  At the end of your last BMB 499 semester, your mentor would submit numeric grades for both semesters and the ET grade would be removed at that point.

To arrange a BMB 490 or BMB 499 experience:

1. Search the department directory to identify faculty with whom you would like to work.  (You are not required to work in a Biochemistry faculty lab but the research you do would have to be Biochemistry focused)

2. Contact the faculty member by email. You may wish to include a resume, a description of your past research and work experience, and a description of the type of project you would like to do.

3. Arrange the details of your project and schedule with the faculty mentor.  (NOTE:  If you are unsure of if your project is Biochemistry focused enough, please contact Dr. Susanne Hoffmann Benning (hoffma16@msu.edu) and have her review things ahead of time.)

4. Download the form and complete it online then send it to your mentor (and the second reader if you are wanting to enroll in BMB 499) Once everyone has signed and returned it to you, then you need to sign and email it to Dr. Susanne Hoffmann-Benning (or Dr. Hoogstraten)  for final approval.
(NOTE:  For BMB 499, you must attach a 1-2 page summary of the research, to the form.  Both the form and this summary document should be combined into one PDF document/file and then sent to the mentor, second reader, and finally, Dr. Hoffmann Benning (or Dr. Hoogstraten)).

(NOTE:  If you can't access the forms, try using Chrome or IE)

5. Once Dr. Hoffmann Benning (or Dr. Hoogstraten) has signed off,  the form would be forwarded to Mary Villarreal, and she would enroll you into the course for the credits indicated on the form.

6. Please make sure that you indicate if you are wanting to be enrolled in an Honors section or a Non-Honors section.  For an Honors section, you will be required to do work above and beyond what is required for a non-Honors section.   Some mentors require the paper to be longer (more than the usual required 15-25 pages) or multiple presentations of the research, or additional lab notebooks or other research related papers etc... but it would be up to them as to what you would do above and beyond what is required for a non-Honors section.


For more information, contact:
Mary Villarreal
BMB Undergraduate Program Administrative Assistant