I would recommend Reed College as a fine example of a small,
undergraduate, research-oriented school. Everyone writes a senior
thesis, and there are opportunities for additional research for those who
want it. Although actual summer jobs in labs are not plentiful, because
the labs are small, you will never have trouble getting time with professors.
No TA's either -- all classes are taught by professors. Typical
upper-division biology course is 20-50 students.
I graduated from Reed in 91 and got nothing but good feedback about it
from prospective grad schools.
Research experience is important -- but also consider whether you are
given a chance to learn how to design and carry out experiments, not just
use the equipment.
Theresa C. Swayne
Columbia University Dept. of Anatomy & Cell Biology
tcs6 at columbia.edu