Rice University
BioSciences at Rice

Research and Internships

Research is highly encouraged for all interested majors, and there are many opportunities for independent research in the biosciences at Rice, in the Texas Medical Center and at other off-campus locations in relevant disciplines. There are approximately 90-100 students participating in research for credit each semester. Students may receive credit for on-campus or off-campus research through BIOC 310, EBIO 306, or the honors research series BIOC 401/402/412 for BCB majors and EBIO 403/404 for EEB majors.


Finding research opportunities at Rice and elsewhere
Research in the Department of BioSciences
Honors Research
Summer Internships
Summer Research Institute

Finding research opportunities at Rice and elsewhere

Students interested in the biological and biomedical sciences find research opportunities through a variety of means including:

1) Reading faculty research pages and sending individual emails to professors whose research is of interest to them:
Rice BCB Faculty Contact Information
Rice EEB Faculty Contact Information
The Baylor College of Medicine Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
The University of Texas Medical School at Houston

2) Applying for funded summer programs at Rice, in Houston, or throughout the country (see Summer Internships below)

3) Viewing opportunities posted on the BCB Opportunities Site:
On this “joinable” site we post various biology-related opportunities that we encounter. Examples include: research opportunities, summer internship programs, fellowships, jobs, study abroad, etc. This site and mailing list is a great way to hear about biological and biomedical research opportunities on and off the Rice campus. To join, log on to your Owl-Space account and go to “My Workspace”-> “Membership” -> “Joinable Sites” and select BCB Opportunities.

Research in the BioSciences

BIOC 310: Bioc 310 is an independent research experience for students at any level. Most Bioc 310 research is conducted within Rice University BCB faculty laboratories (Sections 3 upwards). Sections 1 and 2 feature research in other Texas Medical Center laboratories. Students are required to spend at least three hours per week in the laboratory for each semester hour of credit. BIOC 310 requires a research proposal, weekly reports, and a final project (either a research paper in the fall semester or a poster presentation in the spring semester). The prerequisite is either BIOC 111 or BIOC 211, and instructor permission is required. To receive credit, a student must be participating in a laboratory-based biosciences research project. Credit cannot be received for physician shadowing or other clinical or hospital activities. Students will not receive course credit if they are being paid for their work. It is strongly recommended that all students register for 3 credit hours their first semester of BIOC 310. Fewer hours will leave insufficient time for meaningful research, and more might be unsustainable with a busy academic schedule. Students intending to work off-campus must register for at least 3 credit hours and must submit an application to the course coordinator at least two weeks prior to the start of classes (www.bioc.rice.edu/bios310/).

EEB Research: The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program offers unique opportunities for undergraduates to conduct research in EEB laboratories, and many undergraduates publish work in top journals. Among the many opportunities to conduct undergraduate research include: conservation issues in tropical rainforests; climate change and its influence on natural communities; evolutionary dynamics of genes and genomes in populations and species; mutualistic and negative plant-animal interactions in both natural and managed ecosystems; exotic plant and animal invasions into Texas ecosystems; and supervised research projects at the Houston Zoo or zoo affiliates (e.g., Steven F. Austin State Park).

Research opportunities for undergraduates are available in most of the program’s labs (faculty information here). Visit the various lab web sites for more information on what type of research is currently being done in each lab to see what interests you.

EBIO 306: Program of independent study for students with previous training in the biosciences. Includes a research paper. Students are expected to spend at least three hours per week in the laboratory for each semester hour of credit. If taken for two or more hours, counts as one required lab course. If receiving two or more credits, students will be required to participate in the university annual undergraduate symposium in the spring semesters. Information about EBIO 306 research projects at the Houston Zoo.

Instructor permission required.

Prereq - BIOS 213 or EBIO 213.

EBIO 319: This course consists of a 2-week trip to Belize to examine first-hand the biology of the two most diverse ecosystems on earth: the coral reef and the tropical rainforest. Days will be spent in the field making observations and collecting data; lectures in the evenings will cover topics including diversity of tropical organisms and habitats, rainforest ecology, coral reef biology, historical biogeography, symbiosis, and conservation of tropical biodiversity.

Application and Course Information

2017 Syllabus

Honors Research


BIOC 401/402/412: The Biochemistry and Cell Biology Honors Research Program is a suite of courses offering our seniors and advanced juniors the opportunity to perform a two-semester individual research project in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. This immersive program is intended to give students a first-hand experience of what a career in research would entail. Students interested in graduate school are strongly encouraged to apply for consideration for honors research. Students having performed BIOC 310 research in an off-campus laboratory in the Texas Medical Center will be eligible to apply to perform honors research in that laboratory. These courses (BIOC 401/402/412) function as a set and must all be taken in the same academic year. Registration for any of the courses requires a commitment to register for all three.

Criteria for participation in honors research:

  • Strong performance in BIOC 211 and either BIOC 301 or BIOC 341 and other BIOC degree courses taken to date
  • A grade of A in independent research (BIOC 310, HONS 470/471, or other approved research course)
  • Research professor recommendation
  • Research proposal (previous accomplishments in research area, abstract, specific aims, timeline)

Requirements for individual honors research course components:

  • BIOC 401—Fall semester, 5 credit hours
    Requires at least 15 hours of laboratory research per week, a proposal (revised from application), monthly reports, and a formal progress report (abstract, aims, progress toward aims, discussion of results, plans for the spring semester). Coordinating instructor: Janet Braam
  • BIOC 402—Spring semester, 5 credit hours
    Requires at least 15 hours of laboratory research per week, monthly reports, a thesis (substantial research paper) and a poster presentation at the Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium. Coordinating instructor: Janet Braam
  • BIOC 412—Spring semester, 1 credit hour
    This companion seminar requires attendance at course meetings and a formal scientific presentation of research performed while enrolled in the Honors Research Program. Instructors: Jane Tao and Ed Nikonowicz 

Applications accepted February 1–August 1. Students are encouraged to apply early. Applications received by April 1 will be reviewed by the committee in time for spring registration. Click here for the application.

EBIO 403/404: Undergraduate Honors Research in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Required for the BS in EEB; only open to undergraduate majors who meet specific requirements and with permission of the research supervisor and chair. Registration for BIOS 403/404 implies a commitment to participate in research for at least 2 semesters.

Students must obtain the Special Request for Registration Form and the signature of the supervising faculty member in order to register for this course. Department permission required.

Summer Internships

Individual Programs at Rice

In addition to the following internships, many laboratories in Biochemistry & Cell Biology offer Rice undergraduates the opportunity for summer employment as a student worker.  Permission must be obtained from the supervising faculty.  View the research projects available and email the supervising faculty requesting permission.  Supervising faculty and their projects can be viewed online.  For assistance, contact the 310 Research Coordinator, Dereth Phillips at derethp@rice.edu.

The following programs and internships are sponsored by institutions other than Rice.

Off-site Programs in Houston:

Below, Rice undergrads visit Red Square while attending the 2015-16
Stanford US-Russia Forum as part of the Biosecurity Group

Directories of Summer Internships:

Summer Research Institute

 BioSciences Summer Research Institute

(Apply Here)

The 2016 Summer Research Institute.

Rice undergraduates who are interested in summer research in the Department of BioSciences may apply for the Summer Research Institute (SRI). The SRI provides intensive, mentored, research experiences for Rice undergraduates who are interested in pursuing graduate level education after graduation. The goal of this program is to give undergraduate students the opportunity to carry out an individual mentored research project to prepare them for becoming a more independent graduate level investigator. In addition to the primary research project, the scientific program includes research and career development seminars, a student journal club, and a concluding symposium in which all students give presentations about their research. Students must have sponsorship from a Rice faculty member for their stipend, there are no program stipends available.  The early application deadline is May 1. Deadline extensions are considered after May 1 by email to susan.cates@rice.edu, only if the program roster is not already full.

Program dates:10 weeks starting on the Tuesday following Memorial day.

There is a short orientation meeting that is scheduled in advance of the program start date for all students who are already on campus, because journal club starts the first week and there is some preparation required. Students may start research in their laboratory prior to the program start date and may continue past August 1, subject to advisor approval. The poster session is generally held the last week of the program.

Through the research and activities of the SRI program, we prepare students for the experimental, ethical and critical thinking skills required for success in graduate education in the biomedical sciences. Rice University provides all necessary resources for conducting research, including faculty advisors, and laboratory resources. Students must recruit a faculty sponsor who will provide the summer research stipend.  Additional professional and social events are shared with the Rice Institute of BioSciences and Bioengineering HHMI and NSF summer intern programs, providing SRI participants the opportunity to interact with visiting students from outside universities.

2016 IBB Summer Research Poster Symposium.  

Criteria for participation in the Rice SRI:

  • Letter of support from sponsoring faculty member who will provide a summer research stipend
  • GPA 3.0 or greater
  • Participation in at least 240 hours of research during the summer
  • Participation in the IBB Summer Research Poster Symposium

Students with one year of experience in the sponsoring lab and a GPA of 3.5 or above may be selected for the Advanced SRI program.

The summer institute online application must be accompanied by your Rice transcript, and a written resume sent by email to biosciences-summer-institute@rice.edu; the Letter of Support from the research mentor must be emailed directly by the sponsoring faculty member to the same email address. Questions may be addressed to the program email address, biosciences-summer-institute@rice.edu, but please consult the program guidelines first.


Program Description:

The summer program features:

  • A mentored research project in cutting-edge research laboratories in biochemistry, cell and developmental biology, ecology and evolutionary biology, molecular genetics, biophysics and structural biology, microbiology, neurobiology, signal transduction, cancer biology, plant biology, synthetic and systems biology, and metabolic engineering.
  • A final symposium where student participants present their research in a joint session with interns from other summer programs.
  • Lunch meetings that feature seminars and a student journal club.
  • A short course in Ethics to introduce students to the principles required for the responsible conduct of research.

A select number of students may be chosen for our Advanced SRI program. The criteria for the advanced program include one year of experience in the sponsoring lab and a minimum 3.5 GPA. The advanced program differs from the standard program in that these students will organize and present in the student journal club, and their symposium presentations will be oral, instead of poster presentations. Mentoring will be provided to assist students in preparing for both poster and oral presentations.

The 2010 SRI program was supported by an HHMI Professor's Grant to Bonnie Bartel.


The 2016 Summer Research Institute.