Undergraduate Research

Research Opportunities
for Undergraduate Students i
n Biochemistry
The Department of Biochemistry offers a research-intensive undergraduate B.Sc. program which provides undergraduate students with the various research opportunities listed below. These range from a credit/noncredit introductory research experience through to independent, directed research projects in which participants contribute to an established research program in one of the department’s internationally recognized laboratories.
Students may participate in one, many, or all of these research courses, as they choose.

Those who choose to participate in a number may use them as credit towards the newly established Undergraduate Certificate in Biomedical Research.
Undergraduate Certificate in Biomedical Research (Embedded)
The embedded Certificate in Biomedical Research is intended to recognize the work of students who have engaged extensively in the world-class biomedical research programs available at the University of Alberta. It will be available for the first time for students graduating in 2016.
The certificate requires completion of a structured series of laboratory courses, research courses, and independent research projects, and will officially ‘certify’ each participant’s acquisition of a broad range of research skills through these activities. Participants must contact their undergraduate program advisor prior to application for convocation, to ensure that requirements are met.
For information, please contact Dr. R. Milner (
Research Courses
BIOCH 299           Research Opportunity Program
This is a credit/no-credit (*1.5) option in which you will be introduced to fundamental laboratory skills as part of a team in one of the department’s research laboratories. This option is normally taken after completion of one academic year at the University of Alberta, in a science program, and students will normally be enrolled in, or will have completed, BIOCH 200. Credit may be obtained in either Fall or Winter term, or both. This course is an excellent immersion for students wishing to explore their interest in, and aptitude for, medical research. It is also a useful introduction to research for those wishing to apply for a summer research studentship. Students will work under the close supervision of a graduate student in a specific research laboratory.
For information, please contact Dr. R. Milner (  
BIOCH 398           Research Project
This is a 3 credit course in which students work on a basic practical laboratory/research project in one of the department’s research laboratories. It is offered in both the Spring term (May-June) and the Summer term (July-August). The course is intended for students who have completed two or three years of study in a science program, and is designed to provide practical research experience within the context of a larger, active research program.
During the six weeks the course runs, students will spend 8 or more hours a day working in the laboratory, although the number of hours will vary from day to day depending on the experimental progress. There is no expectation that students will create a large body of experimental data, given the limited amount of time, but there is an expectation that they will clearly understand the goals of the project, its relevance to the overarching project in the laboratory or in the greater scientific community, and contribute some significant results. The course culminates in a poster session where all students in the course present and discuss their experiments and results with other members of the Department of Biochemistry.
For information, please contact Dr. J. Parrish (
BIOCH 401           Biochemistry Laboratory
This course is designed to facilitate the development of important laboratory skills in preparation for conduct of a reliable and high-quality research project (such as BIOCH 498 or 499). These skills include learning how to keep a good lab note book, practicing trouble-shooting whilst collecting experimental data, and conducting proper analysis and interpretation of experimental data. The course offers extensive hands-on experience with a wide range of biochemical techniques, including column chromatography for protein purification, SDS-PAGE, ELISA, Western blotting, enzyme activity assays, protein crystallography, subcellular fractionation, TLC of lipids, cloning bacterial DNA, PCR, Southern blotting, agarose gel electrophoresis, and expression and purification of a recombinant protein.
BIOCH 401 is a 6-credit option which is offered in the Fall-Winter academic year and also in Spring term (May-June). It is required for Biochemistry Honors and Specialization students in their third or fourth year, but other interested students may enroll subject to space limitations.
For information, please contact Dr. A. Wright (
BIOCH 497           International Directed Research Project
The research abroad program provides students registered in the biochemistry honors and specialization programs the opportunity to experience world-renowned research in a foreign country. Students will carry out a directed project in an international laboratory; furthermore they will also be given the opportunity to experience the rich culture that the host country has to offer. While students currently registered in biochemistry programs have the opportunity to study abroad they do not have the opportunity to carry out research abroad. This program allows students to register in a University of Alberta course and gain research experience in an international setting.
The objectives of this research abroad program are:
  • To give senior undergraduate biochemistry/science students “hands-on” experience with a wide variety of the techniques currently used in biochemistry laboratories;
  • To help students develop the skills and habits required by good research scientists;
  • To prepare students for individual, supervised research projects conducted within a laboratory in the biochemistry department (BIOCH 498 and 499); and
  • To give students the opportunity to experience a different culture and to expand their knowledge about how research is carried out in another academic setting.
For information, please contact Dr. A. Wright (
BIOCH 498 and 499          Directed Research Project
In these courses, you will conduct an independent research project in biochemistry, directed by a senior member in one of the department’s research laboratories. BIOCH 498 is a one-term project (*3) and BIOCH 499 is a two-term project (*6). These courses may be taken by students in the 3rd or 4th year of any relevant science program with some background in appropriate biochemistry courses. For credit, BIOCH 498 students are required to give an oral presentation, and BIOCH 499 students are required to produce a written report and give an oral presentation, based on their research project. In both cases, students are expected to put their findings in the context of the current research literature.
Ideally, students will have basic laboratory skills mastered prior to taking this course, as it is intended that they will work on their own project with the objective of making a real contribution to the overall research program of the laboratory in which they work. Students in BIOCH 499 frequently make contributions to a larger project that are subsequently included in a research publication.
For information, please contact Dr. R. Milner (