Research & Internships

Students are required to complete 3 credits (equaling 120 hours) of research or internship related to Behavioral Biology or attend the intersession Galapagos field program. For honors 6 credits of research related to Behavioral Biology are required.

During fall and spring semesters, research or internship work is equal to approximately three hours per week per credit. You must complete a three- to five-page paper describing your research or internship. See the sections below for how / who to submit your paper to.


How do I find an internship?

Most internships are off campus and student initiated; however, e continue to develop new opportunities. For example, the National Aquarium in Baltimore has internships throughout the year, as does the Maryland Zoo. See the Current Students page for more opportunities.

What do I do once I have found an internship?

For all internships, you must meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) and enroll in 290.59# Behavioral Biology Internship. Include information on your internship and your supervisor’s name and email address on the enrollment form. This is done on the IAW (Independent Academic Worksheet) in the Online Forms dropdown menu on SIS. Approval will only be given if you have discussed your internship with the DUS. At the end of the semester, you will submit a paper to the DUS and have your supervisor email the DUS to confirm the hours you worked. You also will need to enroll in Connections in Behavioral Biology (see below).


How do I find a research supervisor?

There are many opportunities to participate in research projects on the Homewood campus or at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Supervised research should relate to behavioral biology.

Consult departmental web pages and other online information for research being conducted at the Homewood campus and the School of Medicine. Also check the Opportunities page.

The research interests of faculty members in each department are usually listed, along with selected bibliographies of published works. Read a brief selection of the articles that have been published by the potential supervisors to ensure that you understand the nature of the research and can intelligently discuss it. Contact faculty via email to discuss possible research opportunities, introduce yourself as an undergraduate behavioral biology major, and explain your interest in working for credit in the faculty member’s laboratory. Make these arrangements well before the end of the semester prior to which you wish to begin work.

What do I do once I have found a research position?

An agreement must be made between you and the faculty member (if research) or internship leader with whom you wish to work. The agreement specifies:

  •  What you will be doing
  •  How much time and when (scheduling) you will work
  •  What you will receive from your mentor (supervision, readings, guidance, etc.) and how frequently you will meet.

To receive credit, your supervisor must submit a paper that you have written to the DUS by 4 p.m. on the last day of the reading period.

How do I enroll for research credit?

AFTER reading below use the online forms dropdown menu and select IAW (Independent Academic Worksheet) on SIS to enroll.

  •  For research with a Behavioral Biology faculty member with a 290.5## section, enroll directly in that faculty member’s section. Submit your paper directly to that faculty member who will also approve of your credits.
  • For research with a faculty member that does not have Behavioral Biology research sections (on or off JHU campuses), you must meet with the DUS (Dr. Bohn)and enroll in her section (section 1) of 290.5## research (note that the number differs by year of study).You must include in the DESCRIPTION of your IAW form:
    • the name and email address of the lab PI
    • name and email address of your supervisor (often a graduate student or postdoc)
    • a description of what you will do on your enrollment form

If this information is not included, your enrollment will not be approved. At the end of the semester, have your supervisor forward your paper to the DUS and confirm the hours you worked.

Note: SIS lists Dr. Bohn as Dr. Porth-Bohn

How do I write the research paper?

All students who enroll in research or independent study must write a paper that describes the substance of the research that was carried out during the semester. This paper should be approved and signed by the research supervisor. This document must be submitted to the faculty sponsor at the end of the semester.

At the end of the semester, the paper must be submitted to the sponsor by 4 p.m. within 10 days of the last day of class so that the sponsor can submit a grade to the registrar in a timely manner. Unless an alternative arrangement has been made with the sponsor beforehand, late reports will not be accepted and may result in a grade of unsatisfactory. All independent research is graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory scale.

Paper Sections

Title: The title should be a concise description of the project.

Abstract: The abstract is a brief summary of the project that you are working on—an overview.

Introduction: This section includes the questions that the project(s) addresses—the hypothesis. It should also include a background, with references, that informs the reader about why the hypothetical questions are being asked. Everyone should be able to write this section. Ask questions and get papers the lab has previously published. You should understand the project that you are working on, even if your job is only one aspect of the project. This section should be well referenced.

Methods: What techniques are being used to answer the questions? Why are these techniques being used? What protocols are being used? What experimental subjects and groups? Again, you should understand this component even if you are not actually using the techniques. You can also reference other papers that have used these methods so you do not need to write out the methods.

Results: What data have you collected? If none, what are the results you might see?

Discussion: What do the results, either obtained or speculated, mean to the questions that you set out to answer? How will this advance the field?

Literature Cited: At least 3 primary literature articles must be cited in the text of your paper and listed under the literature cited section. Contact Dr. Bohn if you have questions.

Supervisor’s Evaluation of Work: If the student is working under the supervision of a faculty member other than the sponsor, the supervisor should certify that the work described in the report was completed and provide an evaluation of the quality of the work. This information can be written directly on the student’s report or in the form of a confidential letter to the sponsor.

Additional Tips

Think of your paper as a work in progress. Talk to people in your lab about the project. When you are just starting out in a lab, the most you may be able to complete is the introduction. You should, however, be able to speculate on what the expected results are and then write how these results, if obtained, would address the questions the project addresses. Each semester that you work on the project, you should be able to add to the paper you are writing.

Galapagos Intersession

Dr. Bohn is an instructor for the intersession study abroad course Ecuador/Galapagos: Tropical Biology and Evolution. This study abroad program is handled by the Johns Hopkins Study Abroad office. Contact Dr. Bohn if you are interested.

290.500 Connections in Behavioral Biology

A small group of students will meet two times during the semester to share experiences and information on research, internship, and volunteer activities in behavioral biology. This course is designed to:

  • Help behavioral biology majors obtain real world experiences that can lead to opportunities after graduation
  • Provide an informal setting to develop oral and written communication skills
  • Build community among students in the major

Students will make oral presentations to the group about activities they wish to pursue or have already completed. Students will also write a short paper/news piece or prepare a web page on an internship, a research project, or the Galapagos trip. This course can be taken concurrently or the semester following the internship/research/intersession trip.