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We consider research to be an integral part of the experience for undergraduate biology majors and have a long, successful history of research collaborations between students and faculty. These collaborations take place in many of our courses through hands-on, project-based inquiry opportunities, as well as research courses where students work closely with a faculty member on a real-world question. Examples of student research collaborations include:

  • Ana LaBorde worked with Dr. Joy Doan to study the effects of commercially available Copaifera reticulata (Copaiba) essential oil on pro-inflammatory activation in a macrophage cell culture model system.  Previous student research suggests that Copaiba essential oil reduces pro-inflammatory macrophage activation when added after inflammatory stimuli; Ana extended this study by assessing whether the prophylactic application of Copaiba essential oil would similarly curtail macrophage responses.  This work is part of an ongoing series of projects that investigate claims about the anti-inflammatory effects of various plant-derived supplements.
  • Jacob McClellan worked with Dr. Brittany Nairn.  His research was a continuation of his BIO496 research in which Jacob was investigating the biochemical function of two predicted collagenase proteins in S. mutans, SMU_759 and SMU_761There is data suggesting that these proteins are upregulated under sucrose and have low activity degrading dentin, but no biochemical data exists regarding predicted collagenase activity. Specifically, Jacob expressed recombinant proteins in E. coli, purified by FPLC, and evaluated collagenase activity of the purified proteins.
  • Rylee Schurman worked with Dr. Paula Soneral to identify novel precision biomarkers for breast cancer. Using RNAseq gene expression datasets and bioinformatic tools Xena and Panther, they identified numerous cell adhesion genes upregulated in breast cancer. Using CRISPR technology, they aimed to test the role of gene knockdown of the cell adhesion integrin, ITGB3, in a breast cancer cell line. This research may identify novel precision therapeutic targets for breast cancer. 

Through these experiences, biology students develop the ability to:

  • Apply the principles of research design and ethical conduct of research
  • Design and carry out a feasible scientific research plan
  • Perform appropriate statistical analyses
  • Synthesize original research and experimental data
  • Communicate research orally and in writing
  • Critically evaluate research proposals, oral and written presentations of research and scientific data

Students have the opportunity to present the results of their research at numerous venues. All senior students present at the department's research symposium, which is held each semester. In addition, students have the opportunity to present at regional and national conferences including Minnesota Academy of Science and Tri-Beta National Honor Society and Sigma Zeta National Honor Society regional and national meetings.

Funded Research Opportunities

Students interested in research have the opportunity to apply for summer research funding through the biology department.

C. Weldon Jones Research Scholarships, named in honor of C. Weldon Jones, a beloved professor in the department, provide students with the opportunity to work closely with professors on intensive research projects over the summer. Weldon Jones Scholarships are awarded annually to students following a competitive proposal process.

In addition, students and faculty collaborators are invited to apply for institutional support such as the Edgren Scholars Program, a Bethel University-funded program. Learn more about Bethel’s support for research on the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship website.

Other students take advantage of the opportunity to experience a large-university research environment by participating in REU programs across the country. Still, others are offered summer internships in industry (both large and small companies) or at universities obtained through the professional and scientific network of collaborators of Bethel professors.


For more information on research opportunities, contact one of the following: