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College Preparation Program: IN FOCUS Seminar

Bioscience Research

This course is an opportunity for high school students to find out more about bioscience research in general, and in particular, their involvement in the process of discovery. Starting with an examination of what makes “science research,” we will then progress to a consideration of why and how undergraduates get involved in biological research. The question of “why” is important because while research is not essential to earning a bachelor’s degree, it does take considerable allocation of time and effort. Therefore we will examine the question from multiple points of view, from the intellectual rewards of research itself to the possibilities for career enhancement. The question of “how” is equally important, because more can be achieved with careful planning and an awareness what opportunities are available and how to pursue them.  While hands-on experimental research projects are beyond the scope of this class, students will be able to conduct a capstone project where they will work up a mock research proposal to gain practice in how to apply for funding in support of a research project. With the information and experience gained in this seminar, students will have a better idea as to how to make bioscience research a part of their educational experience in college.   


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  • Dates: July 3 - 14, 2017
  • Instructor: Christina T. Russin, PhD, Associate Director of the Integrated Science Program, and Senior Lecturer of the Program in Biological Sciences
  • Enrollment Capacity: 24 


Class time will include lecture, discussion of assigned reading, student presentations, and visiting speakers (such as undergraduate researchers and pre-professional advisers) in an exploration of the process of scientific research and how students become engaged in the process. Science is a highly collaborative endeavor, and you will be expected to be an active participant.  While you will not be carrying out experimental observation, you will use the library and the web to find information to analyze, and then present your ideas to your classmates.


  • Examine the process of discovery in biological science
  • Understand the costs and rewards of participation in the research process
  • Develop insights into the process of getting involved in research, and how academic research relates to a wide variety of career paths.


This seminar is appropriate for high school students who are considering an undergraduate major or later professional degree programs in biology, biomedical engineering, environmental science, physical anthropology, cognitive science, medicine, veterinary science or other related life science areas. No special expertise is required.

A Typical Classroom Session

Most days will be half days on the Evanston campus, with certain days involving longer field trips offsite to area institutions where bioscience research takes place, or visits to on-campus libraries or labs.

Subject of the Day:  Current student researchers and mentors


Announcements.  Discussion of assigned readings on mentoring & biology.


Panel of student researchers – current Northwestern undergraduates




Faculty guest speaker on mentoring student researchers.

noon–12:30 pm:

Orientation to upcoming off-site trip.

Resources and Materials

Some readings will be distributed to students, and students will be responsible for locating other information. Assistance and guidance will be available on how to locate and evaluate appropriate source material using the Northwestern University Library and open online sources.