Laboratory Research Overview

The Competency-based Research Laboratory Curriculum (CRLC) is comprised of a series of courses that build upon the competencies described in the AAMC-HHMI (2009) and Vision and Change (2011) reports.  Upon completion of requisite introductory courses in the Life Sciences Core Program, MIMG students fulfill their major requirements by one of two research paths.

Path 1 is an authentic research experience in which students participate in all aspects of the scientific process, from sample collection through preparation of data for publication. Students choose to enroll in one of three laboratory courses referred to as Research Immersion Labs (course AL).  The process of discovery is demonstrated through a guided, inquiry-based experience organized around team research projects.  Activities span two consecutive quarters with each Research Immersion Lab followed by an Advanced Research Analysis course (BL).  The first course offers hands-on experience collecting data, analyzing preliminary results, and reading the scientific literature, while the second course emphasizes rigorous quantitative and computational analysis of data, oral presentation and discussion of research ideas, and written documentation of research accomplishments.

Path 2 is intended for students who are interested in fulfilling their degree requirements by conducting independent research in a faculty mentor’s laboratory.  Undergraduates engage in at least two quarters of letter-graded research (196A and 196B) and concurrently participate in research seminars (180A and 180B) designed to help students acquire in-depth and broad knowledge about their research project.  Students achieve this goal by evaluating relevant scientific literature, as well as orally presenting and formally writing about their research progress.  Students who meet the eligibility requirements must submit their application and begin Path 2 coursework in their third year.  Students also should discuss the application process with faculty mentors, together designing a research project to be described in the proposal submitted with other Path 2 application materials.

Upon completion of either Path 1 or Path 2, students present their research at the MIMG Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium.

What unifies this interdepartmental configuration of research-based courses are the student learning outcomes described below.  Course activities and assignments are devised specifically to help students achieve these goals.  Students who complete the CRLC, irrespective of path, should be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of key disciplinary concepts and their relationship to biological systems
  • demonstrate knowledge of their research project
  • develop technical expertise and confidence through hands-on experience
  • develop problem-solving skills associated with conducting experiments
  • address scientific questions using quantitative, computational, and inquiry-related skills
  • improve presentation skills (oral communication needed for seminar and poster presentations)
  • improve scientific writing abilities (written communication needed for research papers)
  • effectively work in both individual and collaborative contexts
  • value research and its relevance to their own life and society
  • understand the process of scientific research