Find a lab position in MCB faculty labs through faculty websites
- Check out the MCB Faculty Research webpage and determine which labs you are interested in.
- Before contacting a professor, review some of the latest publications that have come out of his/her lab (available on the MCB Faculty Research Interest webpage and in the Biosciences Library in VLSB). You are not expected to understand the articles completely, but if you read some articles and try to understand the professors’ research as best as you can, they will be more convinced of the seriousness and depth of your interest in research.
- Set up appointments to meet with the professors you have selected. Tip: When calling or emailing professors, it is more effective to express interest in their particular field of research and what you would like to discuss with them than simply asking "Do you have space in your lab?" Once you make an appointment, keep the appointment and be on time! Otherwise, faculty may be less willing to make other appointments with you.
- Bring a resume, contact information, and your most recent UC Berkeley transcript (an unofficial copy is fine!) to your appointment with a professor. Professors often find this information useful for future reference.
- During your appointment, ask the professors if they would be willing to accept you into their labs to do an independent research project. Professors want students who are genuinely interested in their research, not students who are primarily interested in improving their resume. Be prepared to discuss his/her work intelligently. Since there is so much competition for MCB lab positions, it is wise to approach your search for a lab position with the same degree of professionalism you would approach a real job search.
- Clearly indicate whether you are seeking a paid position or seeking work for academic credit. In almost all cases, professors only offer unit credit during the academic year. Some professors will pay summer salaries to students who continue working in their labs in the summer after having already done research during the academic year. Discuss whether you would take MCB 199 or, if you are eligible, our honors courses, H196A/B. Find out how many hours a week the professor expects you to work and decide on an appropriate number of units.
Apply to Structured Research Programs
Non-MCB and Off Campus Opportunities
Don’t limit yourself to just MCB labs! There are many lab positions available on campus. Look into working in the following Cal departments:
A campus-wide database is available on the faculty expertise website.
You can also check out opportunities through off-campus laboratories, such as the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
Why do research?
- Science is a way to figure things out, so doing research will aid you in other aspects of your life. You ask and answer open ended questions. You link seemingly disconnected pieces of information. You find results that were not predicted.
- You explore things at the cutting edge and that no one has explored before.
- You learn tenacity, problem solving, and learn to be critical about the details because things have to be reproducible.
- You solve mysteries and experience the excitement of discovery!
- Sound intriguing? Over 40% of MCB majors work in a lab to gain valuable experience in scientific research
How to find research
Students find research in a variety of ways. To get started, talk with classmates, peer advisors, a staff undergraduate advisor, graduate student instructors (GSIs), and faculty about your interest in learning more about laboratory research. For more information on research, read "How to Find a Lab Position."
Under the guidance of an MCB faculty sponsor, undergraduates in the MCB major may have the opportunity to work in a laboratory to gain valuable experience in scientific research. Interested students must take the initiative to make such arrangements.
Getting credit for research
Students may receive academic credit for their work by enrolling in an independent study course: MCB 99/199 or MCB H196. Enrollment applications are due in the UAO by the fifth week of each semester. Departmental Honors are awarded to students who excel in both research and academics. See information about the MCB Honors program, with deadlines and requirements here.
Finding funding for your research
There are a variety of ways to support your research. We recommend you attend a workshop at the Office of Undergraduate Research, or look for funding opportunities at their website, or the scholarships website.