Types of opportunities for Genetics Majors

Genetics, the Secret of Life is open to all freshmen and early transfer students.  Upperclassmen can apply to be peer mentors with the Learning Community.  These are excellent leadership positions. 

Job Description: geneticspeermentorjobdescription2018-19.pdf

Application Form:  2018peermentorapp.docx Applications are due by Friday, March 2nd, 2018.  We will be hiring 3 new peer mentors in 2018.

The Genetics Club is a student organization open to all students with an interest in Genetics.  It typically meets twice monthly during the school year.  Current undergraduates, graduates, recent alumni, faculty and post-docs are invited to give presentations on their research, internship experiences, and careers.  Various fund-raisers and field trips are also planned throughout the school year.  Please contact Genetics Club Co-President Bailey Mooney (bhmooney@iastate.edu) or Co-President Zach Ryder (zwryder@iastate.edu) for the current schedule.  The first event of Spring 2018 will be a soup supper and board game night on Thursday, January 11, at 6 pm in 248 Bessey Hall.  The next event is on Thursday, January 25, at 7 pm in 248 Bessey Hall. The speaker is Laura Schultz, graduate student in Dr. Maura McGrail's laboratory.

Freshman Research Initiative

Students often begin to work in research labs as early as the second semester of the freshmen year.  Overall, about 80% of graduates obtain experience during their undergraduate career.  These are some of the paths to obtaining research experience:

The Freshman Research Initiative funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has been made available to all interested Genetics freshmen during spring semesters since 2015.

Freshman Honors students have the opportunity to participate in research for HON 290 credit.  Many students continue to work in the lab in which they did their HON 290 coursework.  Honors students are required to complete a capstone project before graduation.

Some scholarships such as the Dean's Leadership Scholarship offered by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences require a research component.

Students may compete for on-campus or off-campus internships during the summer months. 

Students are encouraged to ask their faculty advisors and instructors about openings in their laboratories. 

Students may earn GEN 499 or GEN 499H credit for research work; typically 1 credit hour is awarded for 3 hours of lab work per week. Students generally earn 1-3 credits per semester.  These may be used in the Advanced Science Electives area. The contract for GEN 499 or 499H gen_499_contract.docx should be completed by the student and research mentor and returned to Lois Girton in 109 Bessey Hall.


  • Teaching Opportunities 

Students have many opportunities to gain teaching experience.  Undergraduate teaching assistants facilitate student-centered learning activities in large lecture classes such as BIOL 212 and work with graduate teaching assistants in BIOL 211L, 212L, and GEN 313L.  Students are typically awarded course credit, GEN 492, for this work.  Student who have performed well in coursework are sought after by departments to be Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leaders and Tutors. Genetics students often choose to be SI leaders for CHEM courses as a great way to review material before taking the MCAT exam.  SI Leaders and Tutors are paid positions.  Peer mentors also hold study sessions and reviews for the freshmen students.

  • Leadership Opportunities

Iowa State University has over 600 student organizations, all looking for participants and officers.  Students also hold leadership positions in the Department of Residence, as Ambassadors for Colleges, as Cyclone Aides, and as Destination Iowa State Leaders. 

ISU on the Mediterranean

There are numerous possibilities for study abroad. Genetics majors who plan to take a semester or entire year studying abroad should plan ahead and work carefully with their academic advisor to be sure that courses will meet requirements here.  There are six semesters of "sequenced" course work (courses requiring prerequisites) in both the Biology/Genetics and the Chemistry/Biochemistry area so it is possible to graduate in eight semesters in which two do not contribute to those sequenced courses.  However, the most popular study abroad program with Genetics students is the ISU on the Mediterranean: Summer in Valencia, Spain.  Students typically earn 3 research credits and 3 credits of Spanish language or culture.