Members of the Biology faculty pride themselves on being able to offer Villanova undergraduates the opportunity to be involved in meaningful biological research. We welcome all qualified students to consider including a research experience in their undergraduate curriculum.
Undergraduate research may be conducted over a single semester, or over more than a year. To get a taste of research, students may arrange with a faculty member to take Directed Research (Bio 6509), in which they complete a project lasting one semester. Any Biology major having a GPA of at least 3.0 can work toward a senior thesis (Bio 6609, 6610, 6709) that would involve at least two semesters of research for credit.
Completion of the full Senior Thesis sequence will fulfill the Castone Requirement in the Core Curriculum.
List of Recently Completed Senior Theses
|Rachel Amiano||Dr. Olson||Effect of Oxidative Stress and Vitamin E on Avian Uncoupling Protein mRNA Expression in Pectoralis Muscle of European Starlings|
|Caitlin Billingham||Dr. Olson||Social Determinants of Neonatal Hyperbilirubinemia: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Severe Jaundice in Newborns and its Impact on Healthcare Delivery|
|Chris Cali||Dr. Knepper||Understanding Resistance to Breast Cancer Therapy: The Role of Fliz-1 in Regulating Tamoxifen|
|Mary Corrigan||Dr. Wykoff||The Fate of Linear DNA in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida glabrata|
|Katy Dynarski||Dr. Vile||Molybdenum, Phosphorus, and Nitrogen Availability Control Rates of Biological N2-Fixation in Boreal Peatlands|
|Dan Goldowsky||Dr. Knepper||The Influence of FLIZ1 Expression on Tamoxifen Sensitivity in Human Breast Cancer|
|Rebekah Green||Dr. DiBenedetto||Toxicological Effects of the Fracking Chemicals Boric Acid, Ethylene Glycol and Gluteraldehyde on the Developing Zebrafish Embryo|
|Sydney Lee||Dr. DiBenedetto||A PTZ Zebrafish Kindling Paradigm for the Study of Epilepsy Susceptibility|
|Michael Peel||Dr. Wykoff||The Utility of Promoter-YFP Constructs in Understanding Transcriptional Rewiring|
|Melissa Skoryk||Dr. Olson||Acute and Chronic Responses of Antioxidant Enzyme Levels to Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress in the Gastrocnemius Muscle of Mice|
|Laura Solomon||Dr. Wilson||Expression of the Conserved Stress Survival Protein YdcI in a Broad Range of Bacteria|
|Vimvara Vacharathit||Dr. Bamezai||Examining the Effects of Sca-1/Ly-6A Knockout on B, NK, and NKT Cell Development in Mice|
|Ciambella, Chelsey||Dr. Russo||An Analysis of the Estrogenic activity of combinations of Bisphenol A, Genistein and 17β-Estradiol in the reproductive tissue of the mouse|
|Cirullo, Michael||Dr. Wykoff||Identifying segments of the PMU2 gene that confer phosphatase activity|
|Donovan, Kelly||Dr. Gardner||Novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy|
|Esernio, Jessica||Dr. Russo||Analysis of the effects of the Endocrine Disrupting Compounts Bisphenol A & Genistein on Mouse|
|Hagerty, Shannon||Dr. Langley||Methanogenesis in response to sea level rise: A potentially potent climactic feedback|
|Kuhn, Arianna||Dr. Jackman||Phylogeny and phylogeography of the genus Trachylepis (Reptilia: Scincidae) using mitochondrial and nuclear loci|
|McManus, Sean||Dr. DiBenedetto||Intracellular ice formation during freezing of MRC-5 cell suspensions|
|Palanivel, Reena||Dr. Chapman||Microbes mend oil spills? Investigating how nitrogen impacts oil degradation|
|Patra, Sayani||Dr. Russo||Generation of siRNA-loaded biodegradable nanoparticles for use in an in vivo rodent model system|
|Quinn, Andrew||Dr. Orkwiszewski||Algae derived freen energy: Digestion of C. coeruleus by cellulolytic Hydrogen producing bacterium|
|Rivera, Gabriel||Dr. Olson||Effects of training on exercise-induced oxidative stress in liver and kidney of mice|
|Rocha, Nicole||Dr. Jackman||Multilocus analysis and phylogeography of the Pachydactylus serval/weberi clade|
|Saunders, Justin||Dr. Knepper||Cellular localization and protein interaction of Transmembrane Protein 170, a potential oncogene|
|Smith, JJ||Dr. Russell||Diurnal movement and feeding patterns of the purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, on different substrates|
|Soni, Anjali||Dr. Wilson||Is the Low Fluid Shear Response conserved in Enterobacteriaceae?|
|Tyler, Logan||Dr. DiBenedetto||AnalEYESing the role of Brd2 in visual system development|
|Wang, Tianjiao||Dr. Knepper||Binding of zinc finger protein Fliz1 to the regulatory region of the gene encoding GATA-3 in mouse mammary gland cells|
|Lauren Acosta||Knepper||The effects of the down regulation of Tmem170 on cell and tumor growth in BALB/c mice|
|Caitlin Armstrong||Olson||The role of avUCP in short-term and long-term cold acclimation of Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata)|
|Thomas Castle||Iyengar||Close encounters of the unkind: the role of male aggression in reproductive isolation between sympatric damselflies|
|Kathleen Crosby||Wilson||The effect of mutations in unexplored Salmonella typhimurium regulatory genes on host cell interactions|
|Kate Devine||Chapman||The effects of nitrogen addition and depletion on invasive plant cover and herbivory|
|Sean DeWolf||Bamezai||Sca-1/Ly-6A is involved in sex-specific murine B lymphocyte development|
|Courtney Fox||Olson||Ontogenetic growth and development of pectoralis muscle in precocial Japanese Quail (Coturnix japonica)|
|Eliza Fradkin||DiBenedetto||The role of Brd2 in the control of proliferation during Zebrafish central nervous system development|
|Hayley Hanby||DiBenedetto||The effect of zygotic Brd2 knockdown on the susceptibility to epileptic behavior in a zebrafish (Danio rerio) seizure model|
Identifying the role of Inositol Heptakisphosphate as an intracellular signal in the phosphate transduction pathway in Schizosaccharomyces pombe
|Michelle Harris||Wieder||Effects of community assemblages on Sphagnum peat decomposition|
|Antonio Pullano||Chapman||Herbivores and microarthropods impact American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) leaf litter decomposition|
|Agnes Reschke||Olson||Effect of diet and migratory training on ketone body metabolism in European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)|
Malaria transmission in regards to climate change
|Tom Ruffino||Wykoff||Determining the regulatory sequence of the PHO1 promoter in phosphate starvation|
|Kelly Thomas||Russo||An analysis of the potential effects of the phytoestrogen genistein as an endocrine disruptor in reproductive tissues in the mouse|
|Antonio Nathan Villamor||Wilson||DNA Binding Activities of the Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium YdcI Protein|
|Chong Wai Tio||Knepper||Sequence analysis of mouse mammalian tumor virus integration sites|
|Karen Zusi||Curry||Song repertoire composition and structure in Carolina chickadees (Poecile carolinensis): implications for mate choice within hybridizing populations|
How much research you complete is up to you, in consultation with your advisor and supervising faculty member—but the effort is virtually never wasted: few things can better help you stand out from your competitors when it comes time to apply for graduate school, professional programs, or employment. Until you try your hand at research, you can’t make an informed decision about pursuing (or ruling out) many career options.
How do I get started in research at Villanova?
Learn about the research activities of our faculty as soon as you can. Visit the faculty pages on this web site to gain a sense of what different members of the faculty do. Follow this up by going to see any faculty member whose work interests you: make an appointment, or just drop by during office hours. It never hurts to ask about opportunities that might exist!
Work part-time as a laboratory or field assistant during the regular school year, or over the summer. Ample opportunities exist for helping faculty and their graduate students in the tasks that are central to biological research, while earning hourly pay. Duties may include laboratory preparation, care of animals, preparation of specimens, computerized data entry, or collection of data or samples in the lab or field. Working in several different labs can expose you to a range of possibilities for independent study, while helping you get to know several different faculty with whom you might want to work. Some faculty members will suggest a project to get you started; others would prefer to see you develop a general interest in the work being done, from which ideas for a specific project can develop. Experience gained in this way at Villanova or elsewhere can develop into an independent research project.
One key to research success is to get involved as early as possible during your undergraduate career. Beginning senior thesis research in the fall of your Senior year might be OK for someone doing only library research, but scientific research in the laboratory or field usually involves unpredictability and therefore frustration and delays. The amount of time needed to complete a project often varies by biological subdisciplines. In molecular biology, for example, it may make sense to wait until you have taken advanced coursework before attempting a laboratory project. (Still, there’s much to be gained from prior exposure to the activities of a lab as an hourly worker assisting with the research.) Also, lab-based biology can usually be done throughout the year, including winter, so you can work throughout Senior year. In contrast, research in field biology (e.g., ecology or behavior) may require more advance planning, especially if a phenomenon of interest (e.g., breeding or germination) only occurs during the summer. It’s not uncommon for students doing ecological studies to begin working with a faculty member during their Sophomore year, with their major “push” for data collection taking place during the summer between their Junior and Senior year. The earlier you have data in hand, the more time you will have to complete a satisfying and scientifically valuable senior thesis.
The commitment of time and effort required for completing a senior thesis is probably going to be greater than you might think. Your senior thesis will involve extensive planning, data collection, analysis, and preparation of the thesis document (usually a report comprising 20 or more pages, along with figures and tables reporting your original results). Thus, a thesis is not worth doing unless you are able to make this a high priority during your Senior year (and, perhaps, the year before that). And yes, it does involve a lot more work than that required for the biology degree. Still, completing a thesis is without doubt worth the effort if done well. You have an opportunity at Villanova to gain research experience through work on a thesis that students at many schools are not given. Further, it will give you an opportunity to make a scientific contribution that will be significant in your applications to graduate and professional school. The Department of Biology would be happy to see more of its majors succeed in meeting this challenge.
Students completing the degree requirements for the Bachelor of Science, Honors Program (B.S.H.) are required to complete a Senior Thesis, but you do not have to be an Honors major to do research for a thesis; you just have to be an interested Biology major with a GPA over 3.0.
Opportunities exist to obtain financial support for your research activity. In particular, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences now has a generous program for Undergraduate Research Grants for summer work or for research during the school year. Students conducting research under the direction of Biology faculty mentors have had great success in this program. Additional possibilities exist for support from faculty research grants or from external student award programs. Contact your advisor or research mentor for more information.