• In Biological Research Laboratory, students conduct research in two conceptual area, aquatic ecology and DNA Barcoding. Students also complete a DNA Barcoding project from an aquatic organism from a local water body. Students design and conduct a novel research project (capstone research project) in aquatic ecology and they present their results in a research paper and oral presentation. Through these projects, students practice the process of science and acquire basal research skills.  
  • Semester Offered: Fall, Spring
  • Credits: 2
  • Course URL: Canvas


The first semester of General Biology, 119:115 or 119:101, grade C or better, is a required prerequisite for the lab. It is highly recommended to be co-registered with General Biology, 119:116 while taking BRL117. Students may take the lab after completing the two General Biology courses (119:115 and 119:116).

Course Description

The goal of the BRL course is to encourage students to learn, practice the process of sciences, and gain research skills. The course is organized into three main parts – the first part focuses on basic skills needed to work in a lab setting using local aquatic ecosystems as biological system, the next section focuses on biodiversity using DNA barcoding, and in the final part, students work in teams to develop a capstone research project. The laboratory is structured such that there are connections between the activities conducted throughout the semester. Students will therefore gain an appreciation of how one experiment builds on another and how procedures they do at one step will affect their results and interpretations at another step. Throughout the semester students will learn hands-on techniques, they will learn to collect, analyze, and interpret data and learn approaches necessary to fully understand biological systems. The Capstone Research Project is a multi-week student-designed research project that will be completed in teams. The Capstone Research Project will offer students the opportunity to apply what they have learned about the process of science during the earlier laboratories to formulate and test their own hypothesis while stressing the development of written and oral presentation skills.

Throughout the semester students learn and practice skills needed to conduct research, such as pipetting, make serial dilutions, data analysis, use lab equipment and safety protocols. Students work individually and in teams to complete their research experience. At the end of the semester, students assess what you have accomplished and the skills you have developed by successfully completing the Biological Research Laboratory course. Transferable skills are the skills you acquire from class activities and projects that transfer to future academic work, career, or employment settings. Common examples of transferable skills include communication, teamwork, leadership, organizational, and research skills.

Course Syllabus

 Spring 2024 Syllabus

Course URL


Course Satisfies Departmental Learning Goals

I. To acquire the appropriate factual and conceptual knowledge that provides students with a foundation to further their education and career in the areas of life science or health science. Students will be able to demonstrate basic knowledge (e.g., identify, define, explain...) of the concepts, practices and principles that comprise the biological sciences.

II. To develop data analysis and statistical reasoning skills that prepare students for a society increasing reliant on the use of data and information. Students will be able to interpret/evaluate patterns in data presented in tables, figures, and graphs as well as be able to organize, summarize and present data.

III. To develop the ability to use scientific reasoning as embodied by the structured process commonly known as the scientific method to empower students with the ability to generate and refine knowledge. Students will be able to evaluate and apply the practice of science.

IV. To develop critical thinking and problems solving skills appropriate to prepare students to evaluate, synthesize and generate knowledge that provides them with a competitive advantage to adapt to an evolving, global, and knowledge-based society. Students will be able to demonstrate the application of higher order thinking (e.g., classify, diagnosis, evaluate, synthesize, hypothesize...). Students will develop an understanding of not only the connections within biology but also the connections between biology and other scientific disciplines.

Exams, Assignments, and Grading Policy              

Graded category

Final course grade percent

Homework Assignments


  • Deportment


  • Midterm Practical Exam (Week of Lab 9)


  • Capstone Research Project (Research Proposal, Final Paper, Oral Presentation)


DNA Barcoding Project



  • ·        Prelab Quizzes (5%)
  • ·        Post Lab Quizzes (10%)





The Capstone Project is a multi-week research project that will be completed in teams and will include a written report and oral presentation. The project requires students to develop and test a hypothesis and report on the findings. 

Course Materials

  1. Technology: it is required that you have a device (desktop or laptop, NO Chromebook, iPad, tablet, or variations) that connects to the internet so that you can access Canvas daily. Warning: before beginning the course, test your computer for the required software and internet connection. You will be using Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
  2. Software: BRL 117 uses Microsoft Office products for presentations and assignments (PowerPoint, MS Word, MS Excel). Students are expected to utilize Microsoft Office software since the university offers free access to such products. Directions for accessing these products can be found by going to:https://it.rutgers.edu/microsoft-office/microsoft-office-for-students/.
  3. Textbooks: - https://openstax.org/details/books/biology-2e (free resource) and Pechenik, J. A. 2016. Guide to Writing about Biology book (9th edition) or previous editions. Older versions may be found as free of charge pdf file; however, it is the responsibility of the student to locate the free source or buy their own copy.
  4. Lab Manual hard copies will be provided.

Course closed?

No special permission numbers or wait lists are available for Biological Research Laboratory. If the course is closed, please continue to look for openings up through the end of the add drop period in the beginning of the semester. The lab may be taken after General Biology 116. Wait list offered during summer session.


Dr. Monica Torres

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