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Getting Started

Undergraduate research in the computational biology lab requires a genuine interest in quantitative aspects of cellular physiology, strong analytical skills, an interest in scientific computation, and academic discipline.    Historically, the most successful undergraduate research students are mathematics or physics majors who are interested in cell biology and neuroscience or, alternatively, neuroscience or biology majors getting a minor in mathematics or applied science.  Students are encouraged to become associated with the lab as freshman or sophomores. 

Undergraduates interested in exploring computational biology should

Students who are "around" will inevitably overhear discussions of potential research projects and are welcome to make contributions to the computational biology lab's research agenda.  

Undergraduate research students can receive 1-3 credits during the semester (4-12 hrs/week).  Summer research positions are usually a continuation of a working relationship developed over the previous academic year and include a stipend.  

Matlab, Latex, and Macs

Learning MatlabTo contribute to the lab students must be familiar with the Matlab computing environment.  I recommend reading Learning Matlab by Tobin Driscoll and doing the exercises at end of each chapter.  You might also consider Computational Problem Solving (CSCI 141) and other courses recommended by Biomath Initiative faculty.  Students are expected to write up research results using the Latex document preparation system.   Undergraduates can install Matlab and Latex on their own MacBook or, alternatively, use one the iMacs in the lab.  

Laboratory Notebook

Students must keep a laboratory notebook that records your scientific activities.  I would recommend a loose-leaf binder so that you can easily include marked up printouts of simulation results.  Your notebook should be organized by date.  When we meet to discuss your progress, you can begin by paging through your notebook and summarize your recent work.  


Undergraduate research experiences often culminate in an honors thesis, a presentation at national conference, and/or publication in a scientific journal. All work done in the computational biology laboratory is the intellectual property of the principle investigator (GDS).  Authorship and author order is also determined by the PI.  Unpublished results should not be discussed with scientists beyond the William and Mary campus without prior approval of the PI.


Hours are flexible, but if you are working full time start by 10:00 AM and work a full 8 hour day.  Arrange vacation days in advance. If you are sick or are spending major time away from the lab (e.g., doing a literature search), send me a quick email.  Undergraduate students should create a googledocs site (that I can view) or share a notebook using Evernote (prefered) that documents your activities on an hourly basis.  

 Lab Rules and REU Philosophy