Undergraduate Opportunities

At The College of Idaho, you have the following opportunities as an undergraduate biology major.

1. For Academic Credit

A. Off-campus Field Courses

Approximately every 2-3 years, the Biology Department offers an off-campus field experience during the Winter Term. Courses in the past have been offered in Australia, Mexico, and Hawaii.

B. Research in Biology

Bio 396/496 is available for juniors and seniors. Research projects may be conducted on campus or off. Biological research fulfills the College's graduation requirement for independent study, whether it is done as a senior Honors project or whether it is done independently of the Honors Program as described here.

"On campus" research projects include laboratory-based projects and field studies (including those done entirely at a field site away from campus) in which the primary supervisor is a Biology Department faculty member. Consult Biology Department faculty members for suggested research topics well in advance of the term in which the research is planned. Funding may be available for some projects. For example, the Eidemiller grant is for projects dealing with the Snake River region (including natural history, biology, botany, ecology). Faculty members may have grants for some research projects. "Off campus" projects are those carried out at another university or research center; day-to-day supervision is by a researcher of that facility. A Biology Department faculty member must still act as a project coordinator (supervisor) and be involved directly in the planning of the project proposal and the preparation of the research paper. Examples of "off campus" research sponsors include:

  • University of Idaho's Caine Veterinary Research Center in Caldwell.
  • University of Idaho's Agricultural Research and Extension in Parma.
  • University of Idaho, Idaho State University, and Boise State University NIH-INBRE funds for summer undergraduate research projects.
  • Other universities. Money may be available through REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates--another NSF program).
  • Private research centers including Simplot, Rogers Bros. Seed Company 6. V.A. Hospital in Boise.
  • Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History.
  • The Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Natural Heritage Inventory, Idaho Power, or other governmental agencies.
  • Local and regional conservation agencies: Idaho Rivers United, Idaho Conservation League, Ecosystem Sciences Foundation, Sierra Club, etc.

To do a biological research project (before you register for BIO 396 or BIO 496), you should first decide whether you desire to graduate with Honors and do your project as part of the Honors Program. To qualify for this, you must have a GPA of not less than 3.25 college-wide and at least 3.5 in the major field. Students planning professional careers for which research experience in biology is beneficial are encouraged to pursue the Honors option.

C. Honors or Gipson Research

To pursue the Honors option (on or off campus research), see guidelines under Honors in Biology or Gipson Honors Program.

D. Independent Work for Graduation but not for Honors

If you do not desire the honors option or qualify for it, then follow these guidelines to complete your independent work (research) in biology (on or off campus):

  1. Contact the appropriate faculty member at least one semester in advance of the term during which you would like to do the research to discuss the proposed research and obtain literature relevant to the project. You need to have this advanced planning whether the project is on or off campus because adequate preparation is critical to the success of any research project.
  2. Consult with your supervising faculty member to prepare a research proposal, setting the objectives, plan of approach, methods, and timetable for completion. The research proposal must be completed before the end of the first week of the term during which the research will be conducted (or started, if the project involves more than one semester). It is preferable to develop the proposal at least one term in advance of the research to allow ample time to obtain supplies, etc.

E. Internships

Students who desire first-hand experience in their chosen fields can take BIO-397/497. BIO-497 involves independent research as part of the internship but BIO-397 does not. The Biology Department has established contacts in many fields, and we will gladly help adequately prepared students secure an appropriate internship position. Students may also set up their own internships.

For established internships in Health Professions (e.g. Columbia/West Valley Medical Center, Salmon River Emergency Clinic, Mountain States Medical Research Institute, Elks Rehabilitation Center, and Treasure Valley Bioethics Consortium) obtain an application form from Dora Gallegos in Career Services at [email protected], or call (208) 459-5688. Deadlines vary. The Health Professions Advisory Committee will review applications, interview applicants, and select interns for these positions. A minimum cumulative GPA (normally at least 3.0) is required for established internships. These established Health Professions Career internships carry 1 unit of credit and are graded on pass/fail basis. See below for Standard Internship Procedures. These do not satisfy the college requirement for independent work.

For internships set up in consultation with your biology advisor or by the individual student, arrangements, credits, and grading varies depending on your goals, the cooperating agency, etc. All internships carry 1 unit of credit and are graded on a pass/fail basis. The following Standard Internship Procedures are:

  • Arrange hours (about 10 hours per week or at least 50 hours per unit) in cooperation with your faculty advisor and sponsor.
  • Keep a journal and log of interactions, techniques, etc.
  • Submit a short paper summarizing your experience following completion of the internship. It must include a detailed description of your internship activities and an assessment of the value and relationship of the internship to your career goals. These two components of the paper are of equal importance.
  • Present a summary of your internship to an audience within a month of completion of the internship paper.
  • Your faculty advisor will submit a grade for the internship following an evaluation of your performance by your sponsor. The grade is based on the journal, paper, presentation, and sponsor evaluation. Internships normally carry 1 unit of credit. The grade is normally pass/fail.

Examples of Internships

a. physical therapy (contact Ann Koga):

  • Idaho Elks Rehabilitation Center, Boise
  • Snake River Sports Medicine Clinic, Caldwell

b. veterinary medicine (contact Ann Koga):

  • Conger Animal Hospital, Caldwell
  • Caldwell Animal Hospital

c. biotechnology (contact Don Mansfield):

  • Rogers Seed Company

d. agriculture (contact Don Mansfield):

  • University of Idaho Agric. Research and Extension
  • USDA-Agricultural Research Service (e.g. in Parma, in Aberdeen)

e. natural resource management, conservation biology (contact Eric Yensen, Chris Walser or Don Mansfield):

  • Soil Conservation Service (stipends available)
  • Bureau of Land Management (stipends may be available)
  • U.S.D.A. Forest Service (some stipends may be available)
  • Idaho Department of Fish and Game
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
  • Idaho Conservation League (see Chris Walser)
  • Ecosystem Sciences Foundation (see Chris Walser)
  • Sierra Club
  • Rocky Mountain Research Station (see Chris Walser)
  • The School for Field Studies
  • Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory
  • Idaho Rivers United
  • Los Alamos Laboratory (summer stipends for field-oriented biologists)
  • Coeur d'Alene Mines/ WHEC (summer stipend available)

f. cellular/molecular biology research (contact Sara Heggland):

  • Brookhaven National Laboratory (stipends available)
  • Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory (stipends available)
  • Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology (stipends available)
  • Marine Biological Laboratory (stipends available)

g. energy research (contact Don Mansfield):

  • Hanford Laboratory--NORCUS Program (stipends available)
  • INEL (stipends available)

h. medicine/ dentistry (contact Ann Koga):

  • several local allopathic or osteopathic physicians; local dentists
  • Columbia/West Valley Medical Center
  • Salmon River Emergency Clinic

F. Field Stations

The faculty of the Department of Biology strongly encourages interested majors in biology to attend a field station (inland or marine) sometime between their sophomore and senior years. If you are oriented towards environmental studies, this is a particularly valuable part of your career development. Many field stations offer undergraduate courses while others involve students in original research projects (many of which are appropriate for BIO-396/496 credit if planned appropriately--see Section E above). Credits are generally transferable to The College of Idaho but check with the Registrar and/or Biology Department in advance of registering for a particular program to insure that you will get appropriate credit. In some cases, work at the station may help to defray room, board and/or tuition costs. Contact the individual station for more information. See the "Undergraduate Opportunities" bulletin board outside of the Biology Department office for more information.

The following are addresses of a few field stations that may be of interest:

  • Bodega Marine Laboratory, Box 247, Bodega Bay, California 94923
  • Malheur Field Station , P.O. Box 260-E P.O., Princeton, Oregon 97721
  • Friday Harbor Marine Lab, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543
  • Hatfield Marine Science Center, Marine Science Drive,  Newport, Oregon 97365
  • Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Crested Butte, Colorado 81224
  • Lake Itasca Biology Station, Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455
  • University of Michigan, Biological Station, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104

G.Laboratory Assistant


There are many laboratory courses in which a student assistant is able to help prepare the laboratory and assist with student problems during the laboratory. Assistants receive credit for their work. If you have done well in the course, let your professor know if you have an interest in working as a laboratory assistant in that course in the future. The lab assistant job provides a good opportunity for any biology student but particularly for prospective teachers.


2. Opportunities that Do Not Earn Academic Credit

A. Biology Department Work Study

The Department of Biology has jobs for which reliable student assistance is required. The College pays standard student wage for these jobs. Jobs typically involve a variety of tasks and provide an opportunity for students to learn more about the Biology Department, its facilities, and biology. This is an excellent opportunity to interact with faculty outside of the classroom and to demonstrate to faculty members your reliability in an on-the-job environment.

B. Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History

There are many opportunities for volunteer work or research (see Chris Walser or Eric Yensen).

E. Harold M. Tucker Herbarium

There are many opportunities for volunteer work or research on plants.

F. Scientific Meetings

Scientific meetings offer excellent opportunities to see how scientific information is exchanged. There are opportunities to both hear and present scientific papers. The Idaho Academy of Sciences meets every spring at a different institution in the State. The College of Idaho students often give papers reporting results of their research or honors projects at these meetings. In fact, your peers often win best undergraduate student paper awards. This prestigious honor was bestowed on  C of I students in both the botany and zoology sections in the 1991 and 1992 meetings, botany in 1993 and 1994, and in biology in 2003, 2008, 2011!

The Idaho Archaeological Society (Great Basin Chapter) meets in the O.J. Smith Museum of Natural History every second Thursday evening of the academic year. The Idaho Entomology Group meets in the museum about once per semester. The Idaho Native Plant Society meets about once per year here (and at Boise State University every month). Students are welcome to attend meetings and participate in all activities.