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Independent Research in Biology with Dr. Morrison

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I offer opportunities for undergraduate Biology majors to pursue independent research in various aspects of plant ecology that are related to my own research interests in the ecological interactions of invasive plants and deer in suburban forests, the ecology of other non-indigenous plants, or plant-pathogen interactions. Independent research is one of the most important and intellectually satisfying experiences you can have in college. It will provide invaluable experience for anyone planning to go to graduate school, hoping to find a research-related job, or planning to teach.

To see how our research team is typically assembled, view this poster.

Many students begin as a freshman or sophomore “shadow”, for no course credit. They are partnered to a for-credit research student and are expected to commit about a half-day per week. They next do BIO 393 or 394 (Honors) Independent Research in Biology I, for 0.5-1 course units, followed by BIO 493 or 494 (Honors), Independent Research in Biology II, for 1 course unit per semester. If a student wants to do their senior capstone experience through research, they do BIO 495 or 496 (Honors), Independent Research in Biology Capstone, during their final semester of research. Expectations for these courses are described in the Biology Student Handbook. The time needed for a full course unit of research is similar to that for a biology lab course: 12-15 hours per week.

To be eligible for credit-bearing research, you must be of sophomore standing and have a 2.5 GPA in all science courses taken at TCNJ. Generally, I require that a student commit to at least two full semesters of research.

Facilities and equipment available for use by Independent Research students in plant ecology include access to diverse field sites, a greenhouse, light and temperature controlled growth chamber, drying ovens, balances, stereomicroscopes and phase-contrast microscope, portable pressure chamber for plant moisture stress in the field, portable photosynthesis system (Li-Cor 2000) for field measurements of photosynthesis rates, PAR meter for photosynthetically active radiation measurements in the field, a soil water potential meter, and lab equipment for DNA extraction and PCR.

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