Single-molecule studies of cell polarity

This project is ongoing.

Cell polarity is a cell behavior in which one side of a cell adopts characteristics that are different from the other side. For example, our lungs, intestines and many other internal organs are made up of cells that are polarized: They have one surface that faces an internal cavity (the lumen) and a molecularly distinct surface that contacts neighboring cells and the underlying tissue. Disruption of this organization is a critical step in cancer progression and other diseases. The Dickinson lab uses high-powered microscopy, single-molecule biochemistry and CRISPR-based genome engineering to study how cells can establish a polarized organization. We typically have openings for 1-2 highly motivated undergraduate researchers. Students are paired with a lab member as a mentor, but are expected to manage their own time and operate semi-independently once trained. Participation and presentation at weekly lab meetings is expected.

To apply, send Dr. Dickinson an email explaining in a few sentences why you are interested in our work. Also include your major, current year at UT, and your resume/CV. 


Inquisitiveness, creativity and an ability to work independently are the most important attributes we look for when recruiting undergraduate volunteers. We prefer to recruit students who are early in their undergraduate careers and who anticipate a multi-year participation in our research. Students entering their senior year will only rarely be considered. Past research experience is desirable but definitely not required.

Project Timeline



Independent project; students must be able to direct their own work and manage their own time.

Typical Time Commitment
>8 hours per week
Desired Length of Commitment
1 or more years


The Office of Undergraduate Research recommends that you attend an info session or advising before contacting faculty members or project contacts about research opportunities. We'll cover the steps to get involved, tips for contacting faculty, funding possibilities, and options for course credit. Once you have attended an Office of Undergraduate Research info session or spoken to an advisor, you can use the "Who to contact" details for this project to get in touch with the project leader and express your interest in getting involved.

Have you tried contacting professors and need more help? Schedule an appointment for additional support.