Rice University Undergraduate Student Independent Research

IMPORTANT COVID-19 NOTE:  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McGovern Medical School labs interested in sponsoring a student will have to prove that adequate safety measures are in place before that student will be allowed to participate.

Rice University students are able to conduct independent research with faculty at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) through a number of Rice academic programs. The most popular of these are the BioSciences courses, BIOS 310 and NEUR 310. Similar research courses exist in other Rice departments such as Bioengineering (BIOE 400/401) and Chemistry (CHEM 391). Students wishing to receive credit in their home departments should consult their department’s undergraduate research course instructors. BioSciences also offers an additional “experiential education” course, BIOS 299, which can credit any science-related research or internship activity (e.g. lab research, policy research, public-health outreach, clinical internships).

Rice students interested in enrolling in a Rice research course are eligible to choose among McGovern Medical School at UTHealth faculty who have made their labs available.  Please note that the application is a three-step process, the third of which requires an application to the medical school as a Student Trainee (OTVS application), which can take up to 8 weeks to process.”

To work in a McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, lab students must:

  1. Find a faculty member that is willing to host you. A list of faculty at the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth that commonly accept students, and a description of their research interests, can be found here. However, additional faculty would potentially be interested in hosting a student, so feel free to query faculty throughout the school whose research may interest you.
  2. Apply to enroll a relevant Rice research course such as BIOS 310, NEUR 310, BIOE 401, CHEM 391, KINE/HEAL 495,  UNIV 301. Locate application or instructor information on the individual course listings.
  3. Fill out an Observer/Visiting Scientist/Trainee application (OTVS). The student will be a “Student Trainee”, and it is recommended that they state the duration of training to be one year. Rice research courses are only 1-semester long, but students often desire to re-enroll for multiple semesters.” The OTVS application process can take up to 8 weeks, so start early! For a project in the fall semester, it is recommended that students begin the process in early April. For a spring semester enrollment, students should begin the process in early November. Students filling out an OTVS application will need the following:
    1. Copy of photo identification
    2. Complete and updated Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume
    3. Health form(s)
    4. Sterling Consent Form for background check
    5. Proof of enrollment in BIOC 310 course
    6. Letter from the school attesting to enrollment and good standing
    7. For Applicants under the age of 18: Clearance Request for Minors in the Workplace

Fill out an Observer/Visiting Scientist/Trainee application (OTVS). The student will be a “Student Trainee”, and it is recommended that they state the duration of training to be one year.

Course information for BIOS 310 and NEUR 310 Students 

  • Students performing research must spend at least 3 hours working in lab per week for each credit they receive and can take the course for 3 to 4 credits (9-12 research hours/week). There is no limit on the number of semesters that BIOS 310 and NEUR 310 can be repeated for credit.
  • In addition to their research, Rice University undergraduate researchers/students are required to prepare a research proposal abstract early in the semester, weekly reports throughout the semester, and a final project, either a paper (fall semester) or poster (spring semester) for their professor.
  • Students performing research off-campus must copy the BIOS 310 or NEUR 310 instructor, who functions as their on-campus advisor, on all assignments including weekly reports.
  • For students working in off-campus labs, the off-campus professor provides an evaluation of the student to the BIOS 310 and NEUR 310 instructor, who submits the final grade for the student.

 Information for McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Faculty

  • Students should have regular access to their faculty mentor (at least once a week) to discuss their project and plans.
  • The student also should be assigned a research mentor who is willing and able to teach them techniques at the bench.
  • We encourage labs to include their undergraduates in lab meetings and other lab activities, as such participation typically leads to a deeper intellectual engagement and investment in their research.
  • Rice University undergraduate researchers/students must be registered with UTHealth as a Student Trainee (see OTVS application above). This is an unpaid position. If you wish to hire that student for part time work after completion of a Rice research course (for example, between semesters), you will have to hire that student as a “Research Technician I”.
  • For information on creating a fertile environment for an undergraduate researcher, please read this Document.
  • Information for UTHealth faculty interested in mentoring or employing a Rice undergraduate research student click here.
  • Rice University undergraduate researchers/students must be registered with UTHealth as a Student Trainee (see OTVS application above). This is an unpaid position. If you wish to hire that student for part time work after completion of BIOC 310 and NEUR 310 (for example, between semesters), you will have to hire that student as a “Research Technician I”. The job will have to be posted and the student will have to apply. This can be time consuming, so if this is anticipated start early.
  • Faculty especially enthusiastic about mentoring a Rice student may also fill out an Opportunities form.
  • If you have further questions about BIOS 310 or NEUR 310, feel free to contact the instructors, Dr. Dereth Phillips (BIOS 310, derethp@rice.edu) or Dr. Jon Flynn (NEUR 310, flynn@rice.edu