Undergraduate research is typically the first step students take if they are interested in choosing science as a profession. Besides allowing them to establish a strong working relationship with a faculty member in their field of interest, undergraduate research teaches them how to communicate their results, both through publishing in peer-reviewed journals and by making formal presentations at the School of Arts & Sciences' annual Student Symposium and at national and international conferences.

Biochemistry and molecular biology students who wish to conduct research are particularly well off because of the varied and productive research conducted by the large number of professors in the program. Faculty members often receive large external grants to support their research, large enough to bring on multiple undergraduate researchers to assist with their projects. The School of Arts & Sciences is an additional source of research funding.

Biochemistry and molecular biology faculty offer students the opportunity to research topics as varied as the mechanisms of catalysis, allosteric regulation of enzyme activity, the physical basis of mutagenesis, bioinformatics and the discovery of new classes of enzymes, the effects of drug abuse on the immune response, the development of animal body patterns, molecular genetics of pathogenic bacteria, modeling human neurodegenerative diseases and the role of RNA in gene regulation.

The department encourages all students, regardless of whether they are working toward a BA or BS in biochemistry and molecular biology to gain research experience. Students gain critical skills developing hypotheses, designing research projects, writing their results and publishing them in scientific journals, and even in some cases, writing applications with their professors for further grant funding. In addition, students get the chance to present their findings at the school level as well as at regional and national presentations.

It’s never too early to start researching. Some students even come to Richmond the summer before their first year to jumpstart their development as a researcher. The first step to finding the right research opportunity for you is to find a professor whom you enjoy working with and whose work interests you. He or she will be able to help you find appropriate opportunities in your field of interest.