Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Experience Matters

It’s no secret that even though many entry level positions may not require experience, graduates who enter the job market with experience have an advantage. With that in mind, our department provides a state-of-the art, research-rich inclusive learning community. 

We train scientists who value societal contribution and collegiality and who work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

We take a holistic approach to microbiology education, providing opportunities for fieldwork, independent projects and a curiosity-based learning model. This sets us apart from many other programs that focus almost entirely on clinical microbiology in medical schools. We give students the opportunity to explore hands-on learning in a real-life setting, making you highly sought after in the job market.

Of the 30 R1 research universities in the northeastern U.S., we are one of five that focuses on environmental microbiology, and one of two that offers an applied molecular biotechnology training program.

We specialize in three core areas of microbiology: 

Microbial Biotechnology 

Our focus is on molecular biotechnology, microbiology medical (or clinical) laboratory technician training, and biopharmaceuticals.

Pathogenic Microbiology

Our focus is on understanding disease-causing microbes, their impact on the health of humans and animals, and how best to prevent and treat disease.

Environmental Microbiology

Our focus is on understanding the relationship between microbes and their environment and how microbes can be used to solve environmental problems.

How to Get Undergraduate Research Experience 

There are a few different ways to gain undergraduate research experience: 

Independent Study

Our most popular option, this course taken during the semester or over the summer provides academic credit and is arranged on an individual basis with a faculty member.

Research Experience for Undergraduate Program

Available at UMass Amherst and other universities, this program supports active research participation in any of the areas funded by the National Science foundation. 

UMass Career Services

Our office provides guidance in identifying opportunities through internships and co-op positions in research labs, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. 

A Growing Demand

Recent advancements and events related to the COVID-19 pandemic have created a tremendous demand in these three core areas that will continue to grow over the next decade. Microbiology is well positioned to maintain its strength and expand into emergent and transdisciplinary areas of research such as novel drug targets and therapeutic candidates.

The university’s proximity to Boston, arguably the nation’s hub of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, allows us to cultivate industrial and health care relationships, working with career services and public-private partnerships to provide specialized training, internships, and professional development opportunities. 

Undergraduates with research experience have presented their results at national and regional microbiology meetings and have had their results published in recognized scientific journals, earning significant accomplishments which have set them up for success in the industry, as well as secured admission to top-notch graduate programs at schools such as Harvard, Cornell, Wisconsin and Penn.

Our Labs

Our laboratory courses use a curiosity-based learning model that allows you to practice concepts and skills that are in step with industry and health care needs. You’ll work directly on specific projects run by faculty members who oversee a laboratory, and participate as part of a team with other undergraduates and graduate students. For many, much of what is presented in the classroom suddenly comes alive, bringing new relevance to courses and providing a fresh source of comprehension and motivation.