BUA FAQs and Tips


The purpose of BUA

The Biology Undergraduate Apprenticeship program was developed to make research, teaching and work study opportunities transparent and equitable. This site allows mentors the ability to recruit students at the start of the semester and for students to see and apply for opportunities.

How does BUA work?

BUA works in rounds timed in accordance with the semesters and course ADD deadlines. There are distinct phases to each round.

  1. Mentors post projects to the web site.
  2. After the project posting date closes, students can apply for positions.
  3. Mentors review the applications, interview students and offer the position.
  4. Students are notified when the position is filled.


When are the BUA periods (Rounds) for posting and applying to opportunities?
  •     Fall Round for Fall Projects - Beginning of Fall Semester
  •     Late Fall Round for Spring Projects - End of Fall Semester
  •     Spring Round for Summer Projects - Beginning of Spring Semester
  •     Late Spring Round for Fall Projects - End of Spring Semester

The precise dates vary with each calendar year.


How do I apply for a project?

A desire to learn and commitment to the position is valued over prior experience.

  1. Log into BUA and fill in the general information
  2. Upload your transcript. For guidance on preparing your resume or getting your current transcript from SPIRE, see these instructions from the University Registrar
  3. When the application period select your favorite projects. These will then appear under your applications.
  4. Write a 1-2 paragraph statement about your interests in the project.
  5. Check to make sure you have filled out the information in your PROFILE and have uploaded your TRANSCRIPT. Submit you application
  6. Submit you application
  7. You can edit your essay and profile anytime until the application period closes by withdrawing the application and then resubmitting.
How do I get my unofficial transcript?

Students transcripts are available on SPIRE.

  1. Log into SPIRE and go to student center.
  2. On the main page, click on the drop down text box and click on “View unofficial transcript”.
  3. Choose unofficial transcript as report type and click Go.
  4. You can now view and download your unofficial transcript.
  5. Upload your transcript to BUA

For more details see these instructions from the University Registrar

Application essay guidelines
  • The application essay should be 1-2 paragraphs long, written specifically for each project. 
  • Do not include your name in the essay, or contact the respective mentor to maintain an initial “blind stage” of the application process.
  • Investigate the project and the research group to have a basic understanding of their research focus, methodology and overall work. Express how your particular interests and skills match the project. Be specific and relatable. The mentors and their research group may have their own website, or their work are likely to be found online.
  • Keep in mind that research mentors can extend beyond principal investigators or professors. These mentors may include graduate students, postdocs, visiting scientists, lab coordinators, or research administrators. If a project lists a mentor within a principal investigator’s lab, consider researching that specific mentor’s role and research focus within the primary lab.
  • Remember, a well-crafted essay that reflects your genuine interest and alignment with the project can significantly improve your application. Best of luck!
You can only apply to 5 projects, but you can make your Profile available to all Mentors

While you must be selective in choosing projects, we are aware that many students would value experiences in other projects as well. Some mentors maybe looking for additional students. If you would like for Mentors who are not part of the 5 projects you selected to view your Profile. Go to your Profile. Click Edit and check Share my information with all Mentors

Other opportunities outside the scope of BUA

There are many other opportunities for Biology students that fall outside the province of BUA. Check out the the LEE SIP summer internship program, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation and other opportunities listed by the Biology Advising, CNS Career & Professional Development Center and Office of Undergraduate Research and Studies (OURS)


Evidence-based strategies for improving diversity and inclusion in undergraduate research labs

"...Research has demonstrated that undergraduates who participate in research projects and positively interact with faculty are more likely to pursue and attain post-baccalaureate degrees as well as subsequent careers as faculty or research scientists." This article discusses some of the challenges faced by underrepresented students Evidence-Based Strategies for Improving Diversity and Inclusion in Undergraduate Research Labs and ways to improve student recruitment and experiences

How more inclusive lab meetings lead to better science

These suggestions are from an article led by UMass graduate students Nigel Golden and Kadambari Devarajan Ten simple rules for productive lab meetings

  1. Define lab mission and objectives
  2. Identify roles and rules
  3. Be accessible and inclusive
  4. Be supportive
  5. Be respectful and practice civility
  6. Manage conflict
  7. Be open and curious
  8. Be mindful and present
  9. Be aware of biases
  10. Be flexible and adaptable


Mentoring musings: Top 10 mentoring tips for a successful relationship

These suggestions are from a blog post by UMass graduate student Emma Dauster in That's Life[Science]

  1. Make time
  2. Give them assignments in which you have an interest
  3. Establish expectations clearly, early, and frequently
  4. Review performance and revisit expectations regularly
  5. Be open to their interests
  6. Build a community in your team
  7. Value the perspective of each team member equally
  8. Provide multiple avenues of grievance mitigation
  9. Give them training
  10. Understand that their lived experiences are likely very different from yours


The key to a happy lab life is in the manual

Many labs now have a lab expectation and values document to share with students or have them sign. A popular starting point is Mariam Aly's The key to a happy lab life is in the manual. Here is her Current version on Github. Here are two sample contracts—one developed at Oregon State University and another developed at Northern Illinois University.


How do I view other students beyond the ones that applied to my project?

Students can apply to up to 3 projects, but many students are as interested in obtain experience as they are in a particular project. Students have the option to opt into making their profile available to all mentors. If you wish to view the profiles of other students who did not apply go to Mentor task > Student info