Undergraduate independent study
While not required, many students find opportunity during their time here at VCU to perform research in the form of an independent study. Independent studies must be research based and hypothesis driven. Many will have a significant laboratory component but this is not required. Non-laboratory based independent studies are an acceptable option as long as they centered around a research question.
Please review the information below to learn more about who is eligible for an independent study, as well as the general enrollment process. If you have specific questions, please contact Dr. Catherine Connon, the Undergraduate Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Interest meetings are held each semester.
Learn more about internships in Forensic Science
February 7, 2020
SGA Senate Chambers Student Commons
To qualify for an independent study, an undergraduate student must:
- be enrolled in VCU and in the forensic science undergraduate program for at least one semester prior to and throughout the independent study
- be a sophomore, junior or senior
- have completed FRSC 300 with a minimum grade of C
- have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5
- A maximum of 6 credits of FRSC 492 may be applied toward graduation (though more may be completed, if desired).
- A minimum of 3 hours per week per credit hour are required through the duration of a 16-week semester (3 credit hours requires 9 hours/week or 144 hours/semester).
- A letter grade as assigned by the supervising faculty member.
The student and their supervising mentor must complete the FRSC 492 Independent Study Contract. Once this is approved by the Undergraduate Director, an override will be requested on the student's behalf in order for the student to register for FRSC 492. The Undergraduate Director provide the student and mentor with any necessary forms, due dates, etc. required for the independent study.
- Students should speak with and identify a supervising faculty member (mentor) with whom he/she will conduct the independent study. The project and the number of credits shall be determined before attempting to enroll in FRSC 492.
- Students and their faculty mentor must complete the Independent Study Contract. Once this is approved by the Undergraduate Director, an override will be requested on the student's behalf. The Undergraduate Director will provide the student and mentor with any necessary forms, due dates, etc. required for the independent study.
- Once an override is granted, students must follow the provided instructions to enroll during pre-registration, registration or add/drop. Students who submit their paperwork after the add/drop deadline has passed risk rejection of their project for the current semester.
- Students are required to take the online CITI course on RCR as soon as they sign up for FRSC 492. This online course is hosted by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) and can be found at: www.citiprogram.org. At this site, “Create an Account” will take trainees to a page where they enter their organization (VCU), their account information, and their choice of general RCR training. Training is free but requires a vcu.edu account. For more information on this new policy, please visit VCU’s Policy on Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR) and Scholarship.
- Students must complete the Independent Study Overview form in consultation with their mentor. The mentor will review the Study Overview and, upon accepting it, the student will email it to the Undergraduate Director for final authorization. The Undergraduate Director will inform the student and mentor of the acceptance or rejection of the overview.
- All Study Overview forms AND documentation of successful completion of the CITI RCR training must be emailed to the Undergraduate Director by 5pm on the tenth day of class for the semester (or fifth day for short summer sessions). All students registered for independent study who fail to meet this deadline will be dropped from the class the following Monday.
A final scholarly report must be submitted to receive a passing grade. Although the format and contents of the report are left primarily to the discretion of the supervising faculty member, the report should include:
- An introduction providing background information and the goals and/or objectives of the work with references.
- A methods or experimental design section.
- Data with numbered tables, photos or figures.
- Conclusion and discussion of the work completed with references.
- Spelling, punctuation and grammar will be considered.
At least one draft should be given to the supervising faculty member no later than the Wednesday prior to the beginning of final exams. The supervising faculty member will provide feedback on the draft. The final version is due to the supervising faculty member by the agreed upon date. The final report must be emailed to the Undergraduate Director no later than the last day of finals. A submitted research manuscript for publication or an abstract (including the poster or presentation slides) for a presentation at a scientific meeting may be considered in lieu of a written final report. Please consult with the Undergraduate Director well in advance in order to determine if a manuscript or presentation with abstract is an acceptable substitution for the final report.
The supervising faculty member is responsible for assigning the final grade for the independent study. In addition to the final report, recommended areas for assessment or evaluation of the student might include:
- Time management
View Current Research Programs at VCU through the Office of Research and Innovation
Research Assistant in the forensic molecular biology laboratory of Dr. Sarah Seashols-Williams. Duties will include general QA/QC duties for laboratory maintenance, perform necessary laboratory techniques as needed. Student may also serve as the lead investigator on an assigned research project, including completing experiments, compiling data, and writing/revising protocols. Requirements: Forensic Science or other natural science major with GPA >2.75. Completed coursework through Cell Biology preferred, but not required. Email Dr. Williams at email@example.com for more information.
Independent Study position in the Goodwin Research Lab with Dr. Sumitra Deb. Send Catherine Vaughan (firstname.lastname@example.org) your complete CV and names of references (3). Your resume should at least include your general work experience, your lab experiences, and GPA. If you know your class schedule for the next semester, providing that would also be very helpful (or at least your hours of availability). To find out more about the research, check out http://www.people.vcu.edu/~ sdeb/.
Please note that this opportunity will not count as FRSC 492 or FRSC 493. Students are eligible to enroll in BIOL 395 or BIOL 492.
American Society of Trace Evidence Examiners Student Research Project Award. This $250 award is available to any undergraduate or graduate student who is pursuing a BS or higher degree in the natural sciences or forensic sciences and who is performing research in the field of Trace Evidence. The deadline for this application is December 1, 2017. Please visit this link for more details and to access the application form and the faculty recommendation form.