research student

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.

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.

students at Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Athens State University is a member of the Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium, based at Dauphin Island, Alabama. This affiliation offers Athens State University students an opportunity to take courses and conduct research in estuarine and marine environments. Courses offered during the summer at Dauphin Island Sea Lab may be taken for credit at Athens State University toward a major or minor in Biology or a minor in Marine Science.


Allene Jeanes
Allene Jeanes (1906-1995)

Allene Jeanes came to Athens College in 1930 as a lead science teacher, directly out of her Master’s program at the University of California. Known for her research on carbohydrates, Dr. Jeanes isolated a dextrose-producing bacteria that allowed for the mass production of dextran, used as a blood plasma extender by physicians in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Later, in the 1950s, she participated in the research team that developed xanthan gum, which acts as an emulsifier to keep foods such as oil and vinegar from separating. Dr. Jeanes was the first woman awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and her name is today listed in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.