Petition to Substitute MCB Lab Course

Students may petition to substitute the lab course with equivalent knowledge and units obtained through independent research experience (such as 199 or H196 research), as determined by the Head Faculty Advisor of their major emphasis. Careful consideration and discussion with your faculty advisor is important when making the decision whether to use independent research to substitute the lab, as MCB labs expose students to many biological approaches not always encountered during these research projects.

In order to obtain a substitution, you need to demonstrate that you understand the majority of the material taught in the MCB lab course, preferably by hands-on experience.  This will be determined by your PI, the instructor of the lab course and the head faculty advisor in your emphasis. You must fulfill the requirements for the lab required in your emphasis (e.g. If you are a Neurobiology student, but only fulfill the immunology lab requirements, you cannot use this to substitute MCB 160L.)

Students have a limit of 2 substitutions for required major courses. This includes lab substitutions, electives, core requirements, study abroad, and upper division transfer classes. To request a course substitution, meet with a staff advisor who will provide you with a substitution form. All substitutions must be approved by a faculty advisor.

General Requirements

  1. At least 2 semesters of research in the same laboratory and at least 4 upper-division research units (such as MCB 199/H196A) prior to or in progress at the time of the substitution request.
  2. A written or digital lab notebook documenting the experiments performed.
  3. Must be able to provide a coherent description of your research.
  4. Recommended: Participation and presentation in lab group meetings and journal clubs, which should develop your ability to understand and explain your research.


  1. Review the general and emphasis-specific requirements (BBS, CDP, GGED, IMM, NEU).
  2. Write a Justification Statement (see details below).
  3. Email your justification statement to an MCB staff advisor (see deadlines below) and they will then email you the lab substitution form and major progress report. 
  4. Have your form signed by your PI and the head faculty advisor in your emphasis. You should bring your lab notebook and be prepared to discuss how your lab experience fulfills the requirements listed.
  5. Return the signed Substitution form to the UAO via email.  See the deadlines below.
  6. Write a final research report (see details below) and turn in a signed approval form. Research Reports are due: Friday of RRR week of graduating semester.


Signed lab substitution request form:

For seniors graduating in spring or summer:

  • October 1 - Justification Statement due to an MCB staff advisor
  • October 31 - Lab substitution request form signed by your PI and head faculty advisor of your emphasis due to UAO 

For seniors graduating in the fall:

  • April 1 - Justification Statement due to an MCB staff advisor
  • April 30 - Lab substitution request form signed by your PI and head faculty advisor of your emphasis due to UAO

Research Report: Friday of RRR week of your graduating semester (submit to google form that we will email to you)


Justification Statement:

A 1-3 page statement including the following:

  • Title of Project
  • Goals of the Research
  • Your role in the project (include a description of the mentorship structure and list other researchers involved in the work and their roles)
  • Specific approaches and methods being used (include references to specific requirements for the laboratory course being replaced by this project)
  • Results to date
  • Future plans/research outline for next semester
  • Presentation of the work (mention whether you have presented or plan to present your work at lab meetings or other meetings/conferences)

Final Research Report:

Due Friday of RRR week in graduating semester

  • A concise final scientific report describing the research performed, which should demonstrate the student’s ability to analyze and discuss their research in writing.
  • For H196B students, the thesis satisfies this requirement. Turning in the honors thesis approval form completes this requirement.
  • For other students, a research report must be turned in to the MCB advising office with an accompanying approval form signed by the research PI. This must be returned by the Friday of RRR week of the students graduating semester. The report should normally be 3-5 single-spaced pages; extra pages are allowed for figures and tables. Review the MCB Honors thesis guidelines for additional help.

BBS: MCB c110L Substitution Requirements

Experience with the following:

  • DNA and/or RNA isolation and manipulation, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and reverse-transcription-PCR (RT-PCR), agarose gel electrophoresis, DNA cloning (restriction, ligation, transformation of yeast and/or bacteria)
  • Protein expression and purification, subcellular fractionation, protein gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), immunoblotting, protein assays, enzyme assays and kinetic analyses, protein crystallization and X-ray crystallography (very basic), protein structure-function analyses
  • Fluorescence microscopy with living and fixed cells, subcellular protein localization analyses, and/or an alternative microscopy methodology; genetic manipulation and phenotypic testing.

CDP: MCB 133L Substitution Requirements

Experience with the following:

  • Cell culture or cell manipulation, such as transfection, drug treatment, and immuno-fluorescence
  • Microscopy – ideally fluorescence microscopy and a contrast enhancement technique, such as phase contrast or DIC optics
  • Molecular biology, such as DNA cloning/manipulation, PCR
  • Biochemistry – such as SDS-PAGE, subcellular fractionation, or Western blot

GGED: MCB 140L Substitution Requirements

Experience with the following:

  • Reverse or forward genetic manipulation, such as RNAi, antisense-oligomer mediated gene knockdown, chemical genetics, chemical or transposon-mediated genetic screens, transgenesis, breeding experiments, genetic mapping. Experience with a genetic model system (yeast, mouse, corn, zebrafish, Arabidopsis, Drosophila, C. elegans, Xenopus tropicalis, etc.) is desired but not required. Experience with genome resources and databases preferred.
  • Phenotypic analysis, such as in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, microscopic imaging, cell growth analyses, behavioral testing, etc.
  • Molecular biology/biochemistry, such as DNA cloning/manipulation, PCR, protein isolation, SDS-PAGE, subcellular fractionation, or Western blot.

IMM: MCB 150L Substitution Requirements

Experience with the following:

  • Cell culture or mouse experiments. Growing and maintaining animal or plant cells along with cell culture assays. Doing experiments in mice with immunizations or infections followed by tissue harvesting.
  • Immunoassays. ELISAs, Western blot, immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, microscopic imaging, immunoaffinity columns.
  • Molecular biology/biochemistry, such as DNA cloning/manipulation, PCR, protein isolation, Southern blotting, restriction mapping, HPLC, DNA sequencing.

NEU: MCB 160L/163L Substitution Requirements

Experience with at least 4 of the following:

  • Physiological or optical measurement of neural activity or signaling, including intracellular or extracellular recording, and activity- or calcium-based indicators
  • Morphological analysis of neurons, circuits, or subcellular compartments, including immunohistochemistry, tract tracing, optical analysis of structure or dynamics using genetic or synthetic indicators
  • Genetic manipulation or profiling of cells (e.g., viral vectors, RNAi), or reverse or forward genetics related to neurobiology
  • Application of molecular biology and biochemistry techniques to understand neural functions (e.g., PCR, western blotting, immunoprecipitation, gene cloning)
  • Quantitative analysis of animal behavior
  • Computational approaches to neurobiology (neurons, genes, neural networks)