Human Biology Undergraduate Research

Milligan Fellowship

The Milligan Fellowship award was established in 2020 in honor of Helen Leslie Milligan Turner. Mrs. Milligan Turner graduated from USC in 1957 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in human biology (formerly kinesiology). Mrs. Milligan Turner enjoyed her time at USC and wanted to give back to students who are interested in research in human biology. The section of Human and Evolutionary Biology in the Department of Biological Sciences will provide a limited number of fellowships for undergraduate summer projects at the end of each academic year. Each undergraduate student funded by the program will receive a stipend in the amount of $3000 to support reaching the goals of the project, which can be in any academic sub-field of Human and Evolutionary Biology. The project can have a research, clinical, educational or community focus; should require a period of not less than ten weeks at 10 hours per week during the summer months; and should be sponsored by one full-time USC faculty. The application deadline for 2024 is Friday, April 12th.

Students must:
1) Be majoring in Human Biology (HBIO) and working under the supervision of a faculty advisor housed in either Human and Evolutionary Biology (HEB) or any other section of Biological Sciences; however, precedence will be given to HBIO students supervised by HBIO faculty
2) Be enrolled full-time (12 units per semester) at USC for the entire academic year (at least the Fall semester following the summer research project); 5th year progressive degree students may be eligible if the student’s bachelor degree has not yet been completed and would be in progress during the Fall semester following the summer research project; Graduating Seniors are not eligible
3) Not have received other concurrent funding for this project (A recipient of the Provost Fellowship (PURF), Rose Hills, etc. will not be contemporaneously considered)
4) Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better

Click Here For the Milligan Fellowship Application

Previous Winners

April 2024

Kavya Jayapalan
Ryan Johnson
Natalie Toma
Alice Waldow

April 2023

Alice Waldow – “Trapping Meal-Related Memories: Seeking Higher-Order Control of Eating Behavior in Dorsal Hippocampus Neurons
Thien Nguyen – “Rheumatoid Arthritis”
Erica Juneja – “Developing new chimeric antigen receptor-expressing T cells (CAR-T) for the treatment of various types of cancer”
Kyle Chen – “TAS2R bitter taste genes in Africans”

April 2021

Lauren Teubner – “Angle-Angle Joint Orientation of Standing and Rolling Basketball Shots: A Comparative Analysis Using Wearable Sensors”

April 2020

Jonathan Fu – “Understanding Glucose Sensing in the Taste System”

Avery Lutter – “Unraveling the role of Ulp1 SUMO protease in recombinational repair of heterochromatic DNA breaks”

Maya Prasad – Healthy Food for Kids

BISC-490 Directed Research

Juniors and seniors may register for BISC-490 Directed Research. However, 490 requires the support of a USC faculty sponsor and the student must submit an application through the Department of Biological Sciences. Students applying for BISC-490 must have a minimum 3.0 GPA (science and cumulative).

If students sign up for 4 units of BISC-490, they are expected to spend a minimum of 12-16 hours per week in the lab (i.e. 3-4 hours of lab work per credit hour). Some students prefer to pursue their project by signing up for 2 credits of 490 in two consecutive semesters (i.e., eight to 10 hours per week of lab work for two semesters). Students who pursue this option are expected to work on the same project with the same sponsor both semesters.

Selection of a faculty sponsor is an important aspect of the research experience. The selection of a sponsor is a student-initiated process and should involve becoming familiar with several faculty members’ research interests. The process should begin with a web search and/or by reading published papers. You can find HEB faculty information here. Most faculty will accept undergraduates in their laboratories if they have space and funding, and if they are impressed by a student’s interest and preparation. Once familiar with rules and regulations for 490 projects, a student should make a list of the faculty members whose research they are interested and contact them to set up an appointment. Be aware that faculty members are very busy and students need to plan well in advance to meet with them, write a proposal with their guidance, and meet the deadline for submission.

BISC research applications must be submitted to Linda Bazilian in AHF 107 F, by the end of the first week of classes in the semester in which you wish to enroll. Please make arrangements to meet with your sponsor well in advance, and allow two weeks for a decision from the department chair. For more information see the frequently asked questions.

HEB Faculty Research 

In HEB, research opportunities are available for 490 unit credit, as well as volunteer options. Drs. Michael CampbellCasey DonovanScott KanoskiJill McNitt-GrayDavid RaichlenLindsey SchierCraig Stanford, and Lorraine Turcotte offer research opportunities in their funded laboratories. If you are interested in research for 490 unit credit or as a volunteer experience, please contact them directly.

Other Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

Funding for undergraduate research projects is available by applying to the following programs:

A. Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, USC
B. University of Southern California
C. Others
D. Summer Programs