1How many students are currently in the program?
We had 22 committed students join the Student Research Program this past summer.
2How many open spots for students do you have?
We offer up to 25 positions for students in the summer.
3How many students have participated in the program?
There are 42 student-scholars who have graduated from the program and successfully completed their research in the lab.
4When does the program take place?
The majority of the students come for research training and mentoring during summer months when they have time off from school. As a rule, they start the program in June. Some local students continue their work during the year with limited work hours to accommodate their class schedules.
5How long does the program last?
While we try to be flexible to accommodate individual class schedules and vacation time, most of our students work with us for 10 weeks in the summer. On average they spend about 40 hours a week working in the lab.
6Who will I be working with?
When you join the Young Scientist Student Research Program in one of our labs, you will become a part of a multidisciplinary team that consists of research assistants, medical students, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, clinical fellows, junior and senior faculty members. In addition, you will be interacting with other high school students who are also participating in our training program.
7Who will my mentors be?
Every student is partnered with a graduate student, post-doctoral fellow or clinical fellow who have had extensive experience working in the laboratory and performing experiments. The schedules of mentors and students are often generated in partnership to maximize the impact of mentoring and effectiveness of learning time. The mentoring process and overall student progress are overseen by faculty members and principal investigators at Case Western Reserve University.
8What is a typical day in the lab like?
A student’s day in the lab usually begins around 8:30 – 9:00 a.m. As a rule, students have a planned series of experiments they need to accomplish during the day. After obtaining results, students will go through the process of analyzing data, identifying next steps and planning future experiments. The day in the lab usually lasts until 5:00 p.m.; some days students may be done earlier and contribute the rest of their time to reading articles or writing about their work. Some days they may stay in the lab a little later if an experiment is running longer.
9What will I learn?
You will be fully immersed in a research setting and will gain first-hand knowledge of working with premier scientists on biomedical discoveries in a laboratory environment. Common student tasks are mainly focused on working with cell cultures and performing molecular biology experiments. For example, a student may take cancer cell lines, split them and grow to later treat them with drugs and evaluate their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. Another example may include harvesting protein from cells, sorting the protein out, quantitating different proteins in the cell, and examining the changes in cells after treatments with various medications.
10What if I am not sure I have the skills and knowledge needed to participate in the training program?
We encourage all students interested in science to apply and participate in the program regardless of their level of knowledge or skills. Prior to starting their research journey with us, many student-scholars have never worked in a research lab before. Our program is designed to teach students key research skills through an ongoing mentoring process with graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. We cover such basic skills as pipetting or splitting cells and structure assignments to organically progress students to use more complex tools and methods involved in running original experiments autonomously. Some of our students like Blake Smith and Dan McQuaid have progressed to the level where they can design and run their own experiments with little supervision. We encourage everyone who is passionate and committed to doing research to apply to the Young Scientist Foundation.
11Is there a deliverable at the end of the program?
Every week the program holds a meeting attended by all members of the lab. During the meeting one person makes a presentation covering background, data summary, key experiments and next steps of the research project he or she is working on. We then open the floor to questions and feedback. This experience exposes students to the culture of public speaking, idea sharing and open debate. As a rule, students enrolled in the Young Scientist program make a similar presentation at the end of their training. They discuss the progress and results of their research projects in front of multiple principal investigators, faculty members, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students.
12How will I be matched with a mentor?
After reviewing all applications to the program, the Scientific Advisory Board evaluates the research interests of students and partners them with mentors who share similar interests. We currently have 18 faculty members in our mentorship network in New York, Cleveland and San Francisco who offer individualized training in various scientific fields and are dedicated to sharing their knowledge with students.
13On average, how much time does a mentor spend with a student?
Mentoring support varies greatly depending on the skill levels of the students, their needs as well as progress in the lab. The mentorship process is designed to be immersive and ongoing; faculty members are not limited to leading students through one-on-one meetings but rather structure the educational process through continuous informal interactions and constructive feedback. Though our mentors are dedicated to providing continuous support and guidance to students, one of the critical parts of the training program is developing independence in our trainees. It is important for us to ensure that by the end of training students develop the confidence to work in the lab and make research decisions assertively.
14What skills will I be able to develop after completing the program?
There are different skill sets that the program targets. They include technical or lab skills for performing scientific experiments, social and management skills essential for working in a multidisciplinary team, communication and presentation skills critical for making compelling arguments and captivating audience with accurate data. Finally, we expose students to the scientific process, showing them the practice of testing a hypothesis, challenging it with data, organizing experimental results to tell a story and presenting strong scientific arguments that can push the boundaries of medical breakthroughs.
15Are there assigned readings?
Thought there are no formal checklists of mandatory reading material, mentors guide students to maximize their learning experience and may at times suggest certain articles to enhance a student’s understanding of a subject or process. Since each student’s project, background and experience are different, reading material is always individually tailored. At the same time we believe that the core of good research is creativity; we suggest reading material to further stimulate the innovative process and fuel new insight for students.
16What if I want to extend my placement beyond the summer program and continue working in the lab?
We encourage and support students coming back for extended placement since biomedical research takes time to understand and master. Some of our students showed promising results and were invited to continue training with us. We foster and nurture long-term relationships with our students.
17What do most students do after completing the program?
Most of our students enroll into our program at high school level though we do accept some college students as well. Our track record shows an incredible trajectory of graduates who continue to be successful after training with the Young Scientist Foundation. After completing the program all our trainees have gone on to colleges, many were accepted to elite universities such as Yale, Princeton or Stanford. Most of the students continue their research either with us or in laboratories of universities they were accepted to. Some of our students have already completed colleges and are now enrolled in medical schools where they continue their training as residents in such prestigious schools as the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Other students are pursuing scientific research through graduate programs in Cambridge University. Finally, a number of students are currently publishing research articles in scientific journals and have obtained patents for their cutting-edge discoveries.
18What criteria are used to select students?
We are focused on identifying applicants who can show passion and commitment to science through action steps. We want to attract individuals who are motivated to make an impact in biomedical research and want to become future ground-breakers. Though we are not looking for previous research experience, we feel that good academic standing and attention to detail when completing our application are essential. It is also very important for us that an applicant comes prepared for the interview with the Young Scientists Foundation. This means that a student applying for the training with us has done research about the program, prepared insightful questions and is ready for engaging dialogue.
19What are the requirements to apply for the program?
We accept high school and college students in good academic standing, have at least a 3.0 GPA, have completed all components of the application and have parental permission to work in a lab environment.
20What is the timeline for application?
We accept applications starting in November, which are due March 31. We then review the applications we receive, a decision is then made and communicated to applicants the first week of May
21Will I be compensated?
Compensation will be provided to students in both the form of a stipend and potentially room and board for certain eligible students. The amount will depend on the time commitment of each student and satisfactory completion of a one-page laboratory report on the summer research activities completed.