Research, Internships, and Travel Courses

The Biology Program at Athens State University strives to provide meaningful experiential learning opportunities through undergraduate research projects, internships, and travel courses.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Students may obtain course credit for conducting independent research projects with faculty at Athens State. Individual research projects give students the opportunity to participate in the process of science and provide valuable experience for graduate or professional school. We have research opportunities for those interested in wet lab research, field research, or computer modeling. In addition, students can receive course credit approval for research projects conducted in labs at other institutions. Contact Dr. Sara Cline ( or Dr. Shannon Pittman ( for more information.

Wet Lab Research

Research opportunities in the wet lab at Athens State range from genetics to molecular biology. Students will have the opportunity to learn real-world lab skills, including pipetting, sterile technique, electrophoresis, molecular cloning, notebook maintenance, grant writing, and research presentation skills.

Field Research

Athens State offers opportunities for students to become involved in field environmental research. Students may participate in projects such as biodiversity surveys, animal and plant population dynamics, animal behavior, and habitat assessment. Students will learn skills such as experimental design, analysis of biological data, simulation modeling, wildlife management, grant writing, scientific presentation skills, and scientific publishing.

Bioinformatics Club

Athens State co-organizes a weekly club meeting at HudsonAlpha Institute in Huntsville during the Fall and Spring where students come to work together on Biological Big Data questions. Among other projects, we are involved in the CODE (Characterizing our DNA Exceptions – program through HudsonAlpha, where we help to characterize DNA variants of uncertain significance (VUS) that may be associated with human disease. We welcome not only students from Athens State, but also students from other local high schools, community colleges, and baccalaureate institutions.

Experiential Courses

The Biology Program integrates experiential learning opportunities into regular coursework. The following programs offer particularly immersive learning experiences.


Students at Athens State University can be involved in a semester-long experiential course hosted by Hudson Alpha called PoRTaLS (Principles of Research Techniques and Lab Skills – In this program, students not only experience a real-world laboratory set up, they also receive information about careers in biology, attend research seminars, and are exposed to work that goes on ‘behind the scenes’ of a laboratory, such as lab funding and scientific networking.

Travel Courses

Several Biology courses have a travel component that allows students to experience the ecology, natural history, and biodiversity of a new ecosystem. Currently, students can explore montane plant ecology in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or marine life at Dauphin Island Sea Lab. Study abroad programs are also offered every summer.