FAQ's

What is BURA?
BURA is the Biology Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship program.

BURA was founded in the Fall of 2010 in order to create a framework for linking undergraduates and research laboratories in the biological sciences at UMass. Our goal is to offer a straightforward mechanism for students to learn about research opportunities and for researchers to learn about great UMass undergraduates. In addition, we hope to alleviate the otherwise mystifying process of contacting faculty and figuring out which labs have undergraduate opportunities.

Who can apply to BURA?
BURA is designed to help Biology majors have a meaningful laboratory experience in the biological sciences. First years considering a Biology major are also welcome to apply.

Which labs can post projects on BURA?
Any laboratories at UMass Amherst that pursue biological research are welcome to post projects here.

Which projects should I apply to? Why can I only apply to 3 projects?
The three project limit is designed to encourage students to really think about the projects they're interested in, rather than just applying to all of them. If you read all the descriptions and they all sound perfect, then you might check out the "current application count" in the "Projects" tab. It gives a running tabulation of applications to projects and you might want to apply for a less popular project to increase your odds of getting into a lab.

Can I really get into a laboratory through BURA? I heard that these positions are really hard to get.
Here are some words of wisdom from the founder of BURA, Prof. Sheila Patek, and Mike Selden who obtained a position in her laboratory through BURA, and who went on to develop the friendly user-interface you are using.

Mike Selden:
The first time I used BURA to apply to labs (including Prof. Patek's lab), I was not accepted. Upon trying again I used a different approach. Instead of using a cookie-cutter application, I decided to focus on whatever lab seemed to suit me the best. I looked online and found what exactly the Patek lab was working on and who was working on it. I found elements of specific research that interested me and brought that to the table in both my application and interview. I came up with what I would want to do upon entering the lab and made sure to include that in my application. Now I'm doing my own research in a lab that genuinely interests me and will be publishing a paper within the year.

Prof. Patek :
Mike's approach to getting into my lab worked really well. On his first try, I didn't even notice his application - it was too generic and didn't catch my eye. The second time he applied, he wrote a focused and informed statement that clearly indicated that he both wanted to join my lab and also he had an idea of how being in my lab would help his career/education goals. His application caught my eye and he did well in the interview.

I can't find the answer to my questions here. Where do I go for more help?
Probably the fastest way to get more help is to stop by the Biology undergraduate office. They give excellent advice for how to get into laboratories at UMass and they are familiar with the BURA program.

Who is running BURA and how do I contact them?
Prof. Markstein runs the website, which was founded by Prof. Patek in 2010. Prof. Patek moved to Duke University in the summer of 2013 and handed the reins to Prof. Markstein, who streamlined the interface with the hope that no one would ever have questions about the site ever again. However, if you do have questions, please note that Prof. Markstein and Mike Selden are the only people running the site while hundreds of undergraduates and researchers use it. So, try to read the instructions at the website before sending us an email for help. If you do decide to send an email, we'll do our best to reply quickly. Any questions, comments, or concerns should be directed toward bura@bio.umass.edu, we cannot help you unless you include your username in your email.

Helpful links:
UMass Biology Department website
UMass home page