Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Protein electrophoresis gel

Undergraduate Program

Students wishing to major in biochemistry and molecular biology (BCMB) must select an advisor from the program faculty and file a plan of study with the program director, Denis Larochelle Ph.D.



Michele Corbet '14 talks about why he likes majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology at Clark.

Students first obtain a solid grounding in biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus and then take biochemistry, a yearlong course sequence that covers our current understanding of the field. After that, there is a choice between two tracks, or alternative ways to complete the major, depending on the individual’s interests. The two tracks are biochemistry or molecular biology.

There are many opportunities for BCMB majors to participate in internships and research through the following programs:

Internships

A variety of opportunities exist for students to work as interns at other institutions or companies. The BCMB program maintains a Resources page of some faculty recommended listings, and Clark's Office of Career Services provides access to extensive internship listings in every field and location. Internships for academic credit are arranged through the Internship Coordinator in the Office of Career Services, and students are guided and evaluated by a faculty sponsor and a site supervisor at the sponsoring institution.
Many BCMB majors choose to do internships at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. These students frequently find such experiences can lead to summer fellowships, or admission to graduate or medical schools.



Amanda Barbosa '14 reflects on the biochemistry and molecular biology major.

Directed Research

Students can join a research team at Clark and receive academic credit as a Directed Study. Many students find that their research is so rewarding that they continue during the summer or in their spare time during subsequent semesters. This research experience often leads to paid internships during the summer, either at Clark or at other research institutions across the country.

The Honors Program

A student who has a minimum 3.40 GPA is eligible to undertake an Honors research project in addition to their normal course load. This work is normally initiated as a Junior and completed by the end of the Senior year. After completion of the research the student writes a thesis describing their work and gives an oral presentation to the department. See recent Honors Thesis titles.

Academic Spree Day and Fall Fest

An important part of the undergraduate research experience, wherever the research is done, is the annual campus-wide forum known as Academic Spree Day, in which undergraduate students from every department have an opportunity to present their work. Throughout the day, students display their research findings in poster form, present papers and participate in panel discussions. Classes are cancelled for the afternoon of Academic Spree Day, allowing students to share and discuss their work with both faculty and peers in an informal and enjoyable gathering.

At Fall Fest, a similar forum held each November, students present the results of summer research projects and internships. See recent Academic Spree Day and Fall Fest presentation titles in BCMB.

Much of the research conducted by undergraduates occurs during the school year; however, a number of fellowships are available that provide financial support to students conducting research during the summer.

Accelerated B.A./Master's Degree Program

BCMB majors who develop sharply focused research interests may apply, through the B.A./M.A. Accelerated Degree Program, to earn a Master's degree in a tuition-free fifth year, through either the Biology or Chemistry department.

Eligible students choose an area of research and a faculty advisor by the middle of their junior year. They typically begin research for their thesis during the senior year, working in close collaboration with faculty advisors and doctoral students.