MVZ’s Undergraduate Program

Started in 2006, the MVZ Undergraduate Program seeks to address multiple significant challenges to undergraduate science education, including engaging more students in research, especially underrepresented minority groups, and incorporating more evolutionary theory and inquiry-based practices into UC Berkeley’s undergraduate education experience. Our alumni claim that the camaraderie in the program is a compelling reason to join.

The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology is a research-only facility and has no public displays, and no yearly budget for outreach; however, it has managed to develop a year-round undergraduate program that includes museum, lab, and field activities for students.  Students are encouraged to stay involved for the duration of their undergraduate careers at Berkeley and take part in the vibrant academic and social community the museum provides. The program was recognized for its innovation and efforts by the UC Berkeley campus in 2008 when it received the Education Initiatives Award.

The MVZ hosts a student information session at the beginning of each semester to introduce the staff researchers and MVZ opportunities. It is then up to the interested student to take the next steps. Most students begin in the Museum by volunteering or participating in a URAP (a campus program that allows students to receive credit for their work in a lab). As a student excels in one position, faculty, researchers, and staff encourage the student to get further involved in the museum by:

  • branching into other MVZ opportunities available
  • continuing their position in future semesters and taking a more senior role by training new students or getting more in-depth training
  • taking upper division courses taught by faculty curators
  • creating a senior honors project, or managing their own research project

Ideally students graduate with a wide range of experiences and skills that greatly increase their chances to pursue their career of choice or advance on to graduate school.