NASA: Gene Lab for High School & Blue Marble Young Scientist Program

NASA: Gene Lab for High School & Blue Marble Young Scientist Program


hi i’m enya mystery i’m a senior at irvington 
high school and some of the programs that i

have attended in the past has been gene love 
for high school such as that is at nasa ames

research center i’m part of the blue marble space 
institute of science young scientist program

which is also at the nasa ames research 
center summer internships at stanford

i actually applied my sophomore year around 
like march and i just i kind of shotgunned

for internships because i knew i wanted to 
go into biology and this internship was in

space biology which is basically the study of how 
space impacts humans and organisms biologically

and molecularly and cellularly so i found it 
really cool and i kind of just applied because

i thought it would be interesting to do it i 
didn’t think i would get in it was a four-week

program the first two weeks you’re first learning 
about space biology and you’re talking with um

professors you’re talking with scientists at 
nasa ames and you talk with astronauts who are

in space so they like call you from space 
so the one that we talked to was they were

in space studying some plants and biodiversity and 
microorganisms in space so we got to talk with one

of the astronauts through a zoom call and then 
we meet with a lot of like the undergraduates and

postdocs who are working there and they serve 
as your mentors and then the second two weeks

you’re basically creating a research proposal 
which is focused on um so you’re assigned a

certain organism so i was given the most musculus 
which is basically the mouse the house mice and

they were sent to space in the russian bion 
m1 space flight around like a few years ago

and all the data is in a repository on the gene 
lab databases and we conduct research on it so my

research was on the prevalence of type 2 diabetes 
caused by hypergravity in space and we created a

whole research proposal and in the end we present 
it to all the scientists at nasa ames who are in

the space biosciences branch and it’s basically a 
competition of who gets a grant to do their work

we got second place so instead what happened was 
that i one of my mentors um i worked with him

during the whole program and he invited me to come 
through something called the blue marble scientist

program which is run by dr sanjoy song and it’s 
usually for just undergraduates and postdocs but

he brought me in as a high schooler so now i work 
in the space biosciences branch bone and signaling

lab and i do research on newts and regeneration in 
space at nasa the way it works is you kind of stay

tied with all the mentors there so if you ever 
kind of want a job in the future or you want to

stay working with them it’s pretty easy once 
you get in and start networking with people

nasa ames is the main research center 
so gene lab for high schools and

the other one which is called ysb program which 
is blue marble ysp is only here because ysb runs

with only nasa ames so it’s a separate company 
that works with nasa ames um where it brings

in young scholars to work there but i know 
there’s like um i think at the johnson space

flight center there’s something called genes 
in space which is also space biology program

so there’s like different kinds of programs 
that people run for high schoolers and non-high

schoolers but it depends on the location and um 
it was in a residential program and i got paid for

both of them so the first one is a 600 dollar 
stipend and the second one is you get paid um

17 an hour the first one wasn’t flexible 
it was like a nine to five program for gene

for gene lab but then the ysp program it was um 
i just gave my schedule to my mentor and he like

worked around it and we just set up times 
where i could come in and work in the lab

i think the best part was the exposure to 
something that was so different and talking

with so many different scientists and researchers 
having them flown in to come to speak to you was

crazy because it’s really rare that you get the 
opportunity to speak with people who are directly

in the field and this is a niche space biology so 
learning something new was really fun for me um

and i discovered like it was my passion 
as well which was amazing and the fact

that you get paid for it paid to learn is 
one of the best things that could happen

and the fact that you’re doing it at nasa too 
um it’s just the networking and the amount of um

help that you get and you realize like oh they’re 
not as scary as they were when you like initially

talk to them you realize like how down to earth 
all these scientists are i got inspired by them

and i’m sure that they want to do 
that to a lot of future people as well

um the worst part i would say

i really enjoyed the program actually i didn’t 
really find any bad things about it maybe the fact

that maybe it was only four weeks i would have 
liked it if it was a bit longer because everything

was like we were we were working nine to five 
so i would get like exhausted um after that

so nasa ames has like four different 
dining places and they’re all really good

and they have like good burgers and things like 
that so no one needs to worry about the food um

you do have to bring your own money for the 
food though or you can bring your own lunch

in terms of friends like i still 
talk to the friends that i made

we have like a group chat and we facetime like 
once or twice a week and we’re all really really

close since you’re with them like almost eight 
hours a day you really make good friends and

people who are on the same like intellectual level 
as you so it lasts for a really really long time

it really really helped because it was a niche 
that i was interested in i kind of focused my

entire application on that well not the entire 
thing but a lot of it um and focusing on what i

want to do in the future and i think that really 
played an important role in my college application

process because as an asian girl applying in 
biology that’s one of the most common things that

you can find so um adding that little um nation 
there really helped bring out my application

obviously it’s not just nasa or not just your 
internships that are gonna get you in anywhere

but um i have gotten into uh like some really 
good colleges one of them i can’t say it but

i’ve gone into the university of michigan so far 
and then one of my top schools i’ve gotten into

when i first applied i didn’t even know what space 
biology was it was just like i applied on a whim

because it was like it sounded cool and 
then when you’re like working with all

these scientists you realize um the research that 
they’re doing and realizing how many implications

it has for the future and that’s kind of 
how it started in terms of biology itself

i was interested since like fifth grade i’ve 
been like doing like a bunch of camps um

like at the local museums there are like a few 
camps over there and then just attending like

small research camps and i did some stanford 
internships before that so um obviously

localized internships are a lot easier to get so 
that’s where i kind of um it fueled my passion a

little bit more and then space biology was kind 
of the niche inside the passion that i found

for anyone who’s applying i would say

so basically the questions are like really 
simple when you’re applying to it it’s just

they don’t look that you have any experience 
in space biology necessarily you just want

people who want to learn and the main reason 
they are creating this program is to inspire

the next generation of future scientists and when 
you’re looking into the feature for space travel

um it’s coming quite soon there’s the nasa 
rtms program where they’re launching the first

human civilization on the moon and then they’re 
going to be doing more deep space exploration

so they want to prepare younger scientists 
for the future and introducing this to them

is what they would look for so they’re 
just looking for motivated students who

are willing to open themselves up to 
a new topic and really want to learn


Summer Science Program (SSP)

Summer Science Program (SSP)


my name is william pereiro i attended the summer 
science program they have like two campuses i

was part of the astrophysics campus and that 
was like almost a year ago last june to july

and it was virtual ssp was kind of like a really 
big highlight of my um year last year so um

normally it would be done in person so um i would 
have traveled to my campus was new mexico tech so

i would have traveled to new mexico tech for like 
six weeks and like operated a telescope um there

and kind of done research on like calculating 
the orbit like a near-earth asteroid um using

like um physics computer science like math tools 
um but because of like the change of plans and

like um the pandemic and everything um it was all 
online so we kind of did the same things i guess

um just like on zoom so i would still put 
in a research team of three people um and we

kind of worked together to um use computer science 
techniques to make a program that was able to like

calculate the trajectory of a near-earth asteroid 
um and then we worked in like a flow group like

our entire campus um was just like learning 
concepts we learned new physics astrophysics

concepts we learned um new math concepts that 
i have that i hadn’t seen before the program

um and i even learned python so it was a 
lot of it was a kind of a balance between

like learning and research it was a really good 
balance because i felt prepared to do the actual

research with like the learning support that we 
received um it was kind of split up into two um

two categories so like in the morning we would 
work on problem sets uh we would be learning new

new science or math concepts and then at night 
we would be like working on research or working

on problem sets so it was a really fun experience 
overall because of the experience i was able to

publish um data my group was able to publish data 
and with to the international astronomical union

um at the harvard smithsonian center so 
that was also a really cool opportunity

and um yeah it was a lot of research 
um a lot of learning new concepts

and stuff it was pretty challenging because of 
the collaboration i think it was really rewarding

it was definitely extremely academically 
challenging i was unfamiliar with most of the

topics that we learned there when i got there 
um but the support system is really good um i

kind of caught on to some concepts but um they 
do emphasize that even if like when you leave

the program you’re not going to be like a hundred 
percent like sure of every single concept or 100

remember every concept but a lot of the people who 
are alumni of the program say that when they do

get reintroduced to the concepts like years later 
in college um they can pick it up easily and it’s

because of like ssp and so i would say it is 
very academically challenging and you should

um prepare yourself for that but don’t be 
discouraged if you come in and you’re not um

like familiar with like a lot of the concepts 
that they teach because nobody usually is

yeah so there were a lot of opportunities to 
connect both um both formally and informally

so formally we had like workplace blocks where we 
would collaborate with um our teams and like break

out rooms and then we would also like collaborate 
with people in other groups um just like working

on problem sets together or um just working and 
working on our projects i like as individual teams

um i think it was like it was super fun we would 
like do that like every night the blocks where

we like did that kind of stuff was like four 
hours long and so it would be arranged by ssb

and then we would work on stuff together um and 
it was extremely fun we had tas who would like

encourage like activities we had like a talent 
show and stuff on weekends so it was a fun social

experience um that ssp organized but there was 
also like the aspect of like a social experience

outside of what the program had or organized we 
had we have a discord server which has like 200

members and it’s still active now like it’s it’s 
extremely active and a lot of people like talk

on that every once in a while and just catch 
up with people i’m still um close friends with

my research teammates um we still talk every 
day and so there’s like a lot of opportunities

um just socially to like connect with each 
other and like talk to your fellow ss peers

i’m not 100 sure if there is like a causation 
like going to ssp gearing i don’t think like

going to ssp guarantees that you will get into a 
good college but i will say that there is a lot of

correlation because a lot of people who do go to 
ssp are just extremely passionate about what they

do and they just like have a like perseverance and 
all that stuff they’re really talented and so a

lot of them do end up like at really good colleges 
i know a lot of um popular college destinations

for people who go to ssp are usually like techy 
schools like mit or stanford but also like more

humanities based schools which is something that 
i was like into so like um yale and harvard um

but yeah there are just a lot of opportunities um 
to like get acquainted with colleges i think we

had admissions officers from caltech and mit and 
harvey mudd um come to the program just to like um

speak about like their respective schools and 
see if anyone was interested in like applying

and answering their questions um after the 
program we’re connected with ssp alumni

so ssp was started i think in 1959 so like 
a long time ago and so they have like a very

large network of like alumni who like um a lot of 
them are maybe professors or even like go to like

a lot of colleges that people do want to go 
to and so it’s very easy to connect with them

there’s also a program that um for my year it was 
like the test program so it was like the first

time they did this program but it’s called the 
ssp connect program and the ssp connect program

basically connects um the ssp after they finish 
the program to um young alumni so people who have

been out of the program for maybe like one to 
two to three years or even up to like 10 years

who have like the same interests as 
them who have the same like career um

choices that they want to follow who have like 
the same college choices who they want to follow

so that i think was um a really really really 
important um part of like ssp like afterward

um like after the program was done um i put in 
my um in my um there’s like a google form that

you fill out and then you would just like put um 
what what kind of mentor you want um so i put in

my mentor sheet that i wanted that i wanted to 
go to yale and that i was interested in like

pursuing stem and like art in at yale um 
like humanities and so i was paired up with

um my mentor my ssp mentor who was a year 
older than me who actually went to yale and

um she helped me with like the college 
admissions process she helped me like

um with college advice with my essays um with 
all of that stuff and because of that i think

i was um a lot more prepared to apply to yale than 
i would have been otherwise so it’s a lot of like

a lot of support like during the program and 
also a lot of support after the program is over

i didn’t actually apply to any other um summer 
like science programs in retrospect that was

probably a mistake um but i chose to apply 
to ssp over some other programs because of

like academic factors so um one thing was that a 
lot of other programs kind of focus on independent

research and i had done independent research for 
like science fair before and so it wasn’t exactly

something that was like new to me i kind of wanted 
more of a challenge and i felt that i needed a

little bit more like academic background in order 
to like obtain a challenge and so ssp didn’t only

like give the opportunity to do research but 
it also gave like the opportunity to like learn

a lot more than i would have if i just like read 
research papers individually um and then the

aspect of collaboration as well like that support 
system was very appealing to me you can’t really

find that in other summer programs um and then the 
other factor was financial cost so i know there

are like a lot there are honestly a lot of summer 
programs that exist um but a lot of them at least

have um financial barriers so they cost like a 
lot of money um it’s just very hard to like apply

without even like an application fee so when i 
applied to ssp i don’t think i had to um i don’t

think there was like an application fee which 
was like the first plus for me and the second

plus was that they had need-based financial aid so 
they had alumni who um or they’re i think they’re

completely funded by alumni donations so they they 
raise like an incredible amount of money every

year um but because of like those alumni donations 
i was able to attend for free and a lot of people

in the program are able to attend for free or 
for a reduced price so they’re very forgiving

when it comes to like financial aid and um i 
encourage anyone to like who wants to apply

or anyone who’s like considering financial 
factors to definitely take a shot and like apply

the best part might be just um how like how 
it like affected me like personally um with

regard to like my confidence like academically 
um i i learned a lot of things in the program

um like chief among them was probably the 
fact that science is not something you’re

just supposed to get uh like during high school 
i didn’t go to magnet um school so i didn’t have

like that much of a scientific background um 
and so when i did like do science or when i

just did like academics in general i would just 
like rank myself based on like how well or how

easily i could like understand the subject and 
if i couldn’t understand the subject very well

i just assumed that i wouldn’t be good at it and 
so kind ssp kind of changed my perspective on that

um it kind of inspired me to um not just like 
look at something realize it’s very confusing and

it would probably take me a long time to do and 
then just assume i’m not good at it um it really

really pushed me to kind of um just keep on like 
attacking a problem until i understood it and

understanding that like when scientists like do 
research or when they try to understand like new

concepts they aren’t really like understanding 
things at first it’s very hard to like understand

concepts but when you like spend a lot of 
time working on something it’s more about

like your passion for it and like 
how determined you are to like

understand different concepts and different 
fields of science that actually makes you a

good scientist and makes you a good fit for 
science so that’s what i kind of learned um

during the program that really like sparked my 
confidence um in pursuing something in science

i don’t really think there 
was like any bad part of

the summer science program i would say it does 
get a little bit stressful at times because um

there’s just a lot of work um it’s it’s a very 
fast-paced program it’s very academically rigorous

there were a lot of like nights where i would 
sleep like three to four hours um just working on

problems that’s really doing work but i think it’s 
still like 100 even though it’s like very hard um

very difficult a lot of sleepless nights it is 
a very fun opportunity i remember like the night

before the program ended was when we had to like 
turn in our research papers and i think i stayed

up with my group and like a bunch of other um ss 
peers until like five to six am working on writing

a research project just to submit it and so i 
think like that kind of like community support

really um made it a lot better and um really 
taught me that even though like it’s academically

rigorous and like no matter how difficult things 
can be if you have like a community of support

around you that’s like a very important thing and 
i think that’s definitely something that i’ve um

kind of emphasized with like a lot of my future 
life decisions um so like when i applied to yale

for example one of the reasons i was looking 
at yellow was because of like that same

strong community of support that i got at ssp and 
so i think ssb just overall changed my world view

on like what it means to be like what it means 
for something to be difficult or challenging

so um we didn’t get like our paper published we 
got our data published um in the like minor planet

center uh report or i forgot what it was called 
but um yeah that’s something that everyone at

ssp gets um like published like um they’re just 
work um based on like the research they’ve done

um they will um ssp will send the data to the 
international astronomical union and then they

will look at it and make sure that it’s like 
pretty much accurate um but then they will

like publish the data into their um journal or not 
journal but report or minor planet center report

um so technically there’s no guarantee 
that you would get your data published

but i’m pretty confident that anyone who does 
like ssp will eventually get their data published

and this is for the astrophysics on campus i’m 
not 100 sure how it works with biochemistry

obviously the fact that every like 
advertisement that i saw online was

them like actually being on 
campus um it was not or it was

not exactly what i had pictured because of 
like that whole virtual aspect but obviously

we couldn’t have like actually done it in person 
and with the like the resources we had at the time

and the fact that they made it very flexible for 
ssp students to kind of like get into that a whole

ssp on campus mindset um it was definitely worth 
it um i think just the fact that we were able to

like download all of the like astronomy software 
onto our computer and then um like all the coding

software i feel like that kind of maybe even 
helped us a lot more than we would have done like

on campus i i do think that it was um a very it 
it was very much kind of similar to the way it

would have operated um on campus like obviously 
i was not there so i don’t know how they did it

but based on like the advertisements 
i saw i feel like it was very similar

advice i would have for someone who is 
applying to ssp is to not worry too much

about stats so i know when i applied i didn’t 
even have like an sat score and it completely

stressed me out um but i feel like just from my 
application what i really pulled through was kind

of the idea that um i really love science and that 
i really loved using science um like as a tool to

help other people and i feel like both of those 
concepts were really apparent in my application

so i wouldn’t worry too much on aspects that you 
cannot control um like your stats or anything

i would say do as much as you can to show that 
you’re interested in like science like um i took a

radio astronomy class just for fun with my physics 
teacher and because of that it convinced me to

take astrophysics into the biochemistry because i 
didn’t know which one of the two i wanted to take

and then in my essays like really elaborated 
on how much like i love science and like for

one of the supplement questions i talked about 
like um this volunteer initiative that i did

um where i was like teaching young 
kids stem and so i was just like um

really talking about how much like i love science 
and how i really wanted to like do something good

with science and i feel like that’s shown through 
my application so focus on um the things that you

can’t control like um just like your essays 
and like what classes you decide to take even

and then um leave everything else alone don’t 
stress don’t stress about your sats or don’t

stress about your gpa or anything just focus on 
what like your passion is about um like what in

science you want to like pursue and what you want 
to like give to the world or to the community

Tufts Summer Research Experience

Tufts Summer Research Experience


i’m allison harton i’m from milburn new jersey

i’m a senior this year and then so i did it’s 
called tufts summer research experience and i

did it the summer after my sophomore 
year so i guess two summers ago now

i found that program because i really wanted to 
do something that like involved research like

science research um and like really hadn’t done 
anything like that before so i wanted like kind

of a structured program to go with it um but this 
one was like a very kind of free program and that

like it was sort of what you made of it um and 
so you applied to the programmer and were matched

like specifically with the tufts lab um and then i 
was actually the meyer the year i did the program

was the first year of the program so it was kind 
of like just starting out um but so i was matched

with a lab and a graduate student that i worked 
with and i was actually the only high school

student in the lab there were like maybe 10 or 20 
like somewhere between 10 and 20 different labs

that people in the program were placed in um and 
it was really just like it was a six week program

five days a week we went into the lab and worked 
with the gra i worked with the grad student um

and then kind of at the end of the program it 
was like culminated in like this poster session

that you know almost everyone in the program kind 
of had a project that they worked on like start to

finish and so we all at the end like presented 
the different research projects that we did

the food at tufts was good um it was like one 
dining test i think has maybe two or three

different dining halls it was just one that was 
open to us um but it was you know totally fine

um they were open for like three meals a day 
and it was pretty good food um and then in

terms of the social part of it um so my program 
itself was pretty small i think it was like

25 to 30 of us but tufts has a lot of like 
pre-college programs um and we were kind

of all staying in dorms together so 
there was a large group of people to

um kind of do things with and they did 
a really good job of just like having

different activities every night um especially 
at the beginning when like we didn’t know anyone

um and it was you know very relaxed and that like 
if you wanted to come to these like the organized

things you could but you definitely didn’t 
have to um and like the way they organized it

um we kind of within like the dorm that we 
stayed in each floor was like a group of

i think it was like eight of us um and we were 
kind of like our ra group for the whole program um

so like socially it was a lot of fun just because 
like we did a lot with that group in particular

that like closer group um but then there was also 
like lots of opportunities to kind of meet people

and do um do other things with kind of a larger 
group of people in different programs there

the best part from me was like i found this 
program because i wanted to do research over the

summer and like i definitely felt like i did that 
it was really cool because i was pretty much for

six weeks working directly with like she was a phd 
student in the lab and i was like you know by the

end i had this project that i was able to say like 
i had worked on and like a poster that i had my

name on and everything like that which was really 
really cool um and not necessarily something i

realized when i was researching the program that 
like it would be so kind of individual like that

worst part of the program i guess was like we 
did have every afternoon we had to go to like

these seminar type sessions where it was like 
they went through things like how to do you

know or like how to use um like databases 
or like citing sources or things like that

which like you know none of us really had wanted 
that out of the program it was kind of we all did

it to do research and like there were a lot of 
days where i would would have much rather like

stay an extra hour or two in the lab but instead 
i had to go back to go to the seminar class

that wasn’t exactly communicated test beforehand 
um again though i know that you know my year

was the first year they did it and i know they 
got a lot of complaints about those classes so

it’s possible it’s changed a little bit since um 
since then just because they were kind of working

everything out um so that was just kind of a 
little bit of a disappointment just because i

you know that wasn’t really what i wanted out 
of it but it definitely wasn’t like such a big

deal that i would advise anyone not to do 
it because of that or anything like that

i think a couple of things like one thing was it 
was a six week program um which a lot of them were

not that long and i kind of liked the idea that 
it was like you really could see a project from

start to finish instead of like just coming 
in for a week or two here or there um i also

i mean this was more in terms of just like 
kind of social like fun summer stuff to do

um but i really like like tufts is right very 
close to boston um which is really nice because

like a lot of weekends you know we take the subway 
into boston and like be able to spend the day

there um which like i’d say especially over the 
summer when like you’re looking at least i was

looking for like something fun to do also that was 
really nice um to kind of have that as an option

um and i mean i also what i really liked about 
this program and was sort of unique in that like

as i was researching i didn’t see a ton that were 
like this was that like so i was the only high

school student in the lab which meant that like i 
pretty much got whatever attention i needed like

it wasn’t that they were like splitting you know 
between 10 or 12 different high school students

who were all trying to learn like different 
techniques and everything like that it was

kind of whatever i needed you know they were there 
to help me and i was there to help them in any way

um and i just thought it was a really cool kind 
of way to first of all get like an individual

relationship with like these different professors 
and grad students um and also just kind of i

thought i was able to get a lot more out of this 
program because it was like really just me in the

lab than i would have if like again there were 
you know um it was like a more kind of structured

thing with like 10 or 12 or however many different 
high school students would have been in the lab

it definitely was an expensive program but for me 
i do think it was um and i think largely because

so after you know i did that organized program 
and then since then i’ve been able to like reach

out to different professors at like there’s a 
um there’s one i’m actually working with now at

dartmouth who like when i emailed him i said you 
know i have all this experience from that summer

um so like you don’t need to train me in all the 
basic like the lab basics so i really could just

like come in and help you with whatever you need 
which i think was really nice and it made it much

more likely that like someone like him would 
be willing to say yes to me doing work for him

because i kind of had that background um so i 
mean it definitely was expensive but i kind of

think going forward like having that foundation 
and those skills will definitely be worth it

for me i think a big thing was um i i think i 
started looking into programs like maybe even

in october like sometime in the early fall um so i 
kind of had an idea of like what i wanted to apply

to even before a lot of these applications opened 
um which i think for me was really helpful because

like i pretty much as soon as the application was 
open i had my application ready to go and send it

in um and i think because i sent it in so early 
i was really able to get like once i was accepted

i was able to get kind of first pick of the lab 
that i wanted just because they hadn’t filled up

any other spots like that um and like i know i 
had a couple friends there who you know actually

had wanted to be working in my lab but because 
they applied later they were offered you know

another lab that was less interesting to them that 
like you know they still ended up enjoying but

it wasn’t exactly what they wanted um so i 
would say just like my big advice would be

get the application in as soon as you possibly can 
um just because like the spots do fill up and like

you know it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t 
be accepted um but you’ll have kind of a much

wider range of choices of like where you actually 
end up which lab you actually end up in which is

definitely a huge part of the program um 
because a lot of it is so like individual and

dependent on the professor the graduate student 
you’re assigned to i do think i definitely got

lucky with the lab i was placed in um i had 
some friends there who like you know their

professors weren’t as kind of willing to work 
with them or like they got a grad student who was

not really in the middle of such an exciting 
project or any or something like that

i mean other than that it was a fairly 
straightforward application process you

know there’s like one or two essays that you have 
to write but nothing that’s such a big deal um

but yeah i’d say definitely my big 
advice would be to get it in early


COSMOS (California State Summer School for Mathematics & Science)

COSMOS (California State Summer School for Mathematics & Science)


my name is shakuntala and i’m from the bay area 
and i’m currently a first year at berkeley i’m

intending to major in mcb which is molecular 
cell biology and i attended cosmos in 2019

at irvine and i was in cluster 1.

so cosmos has i believe they have nine clusters 
um and the clusters range on like a bunch of

different topics in stem most of the clusters in 
irvine are like surrounding biology um and there

are a lot of engineering clusters too and the 
cluster i was in was basically on proteins so

we studied proteins we had two professors and 
when i did cosmos in 2019 it was the first year

that our professors were doing um the program so 
it was a little bit unstructured but i believe

they have like a proper curriculum now um you can 
like read on all the different clusters there’s

like four campuses and it really doesn’t matter 
which campus you go to they’re all pretty much the

same they’re under the same board and just like 
look into the ones that you’re most interested in

our program was four weeks it was like the first 
time they had our clusters so it was a little bit

unstructured but basically what we would do is 
every day we got up and then all of us walked to

like a building they booked for us like a room 
they booked for us and a professor would like

lecture us on different topics and like assign 
us readings about what we were researching so

our cluster was basically researching on like 
a protein called apkc we were like trying to

mimic an enzyme um that was revolving cancer so 
we kind of lectured on basic bio and chem topics

especially because a lot of us are high schoolers 
so we don’t have like that advanced knowledge on

these topics and they kind of break it down in 
terms of chem and bio and how everything works

we decided what amino acid to change in like a 
sequence of dna and we kind of worked on like

a lab and we like made our own proteins and 
we learned a lot of bio techniques like gel

phosphorization and just being able to see if our 
experiment worked um i think it was my cluster was

a bit more hands-on i know a few other clusters 
they kind of just jumped into like they had a

short thing on coding and then they just jumped 
into like doing their projects but for us we had

a lot more like lecturing and reading which 
personally i like because it helped me like

understand how to read papers which is like a 
lot of what you do when you work in a lab later

for irvine it’s random rooming you can like 
pick a roommate but i went random because i

just didn’t know anyone going to the program um 
and you live in the you live in a residential

hall and it’s a suite and i believe all 
the buildings are with your gender in them

um so like male or female i’m not sure about like 
other i i don’t think they had for other like

non-identifying socially i like the they had a lot 
of mixer activities for people but again i kind of

didn’t like how they like divided it by gender 
because i feel like it was a little bit hard

um to like just become friends with people who 
weren’t the same like who weren’t female or who

weren’t really identifying or female identifying 
um and then you also got to mix with your cluster

and we all kind of ate together i think 
it was mostly you ate with your cluster

for lunch and then breakfast and 
dinner you can get with your friends

um i like met a bunch of girls in my building so 
that was kind of nice and i’m still in touch with

them like to today um like i zoomed them all the 
time and like um one of my friends like wanted an

internship so like i hooked them up so i think 
it’s like a really good program if you’re like

looking to build a community because you’re kind 
of building a community with a lot of like-minded

individuals who are also in a similar area to you 
so even when you go to college like you can find

a like college roommate or like college friends a 
lot of people in my cosmos program actually go to

berkeley so like for example this year when i 
was like trying out for a bunch of clubs like

i saw a lot of people from irvine and it was 
just like something that we were like hey you

went to cosmos at irvine like and we kind of hop 
from there and like we talk and stuff like that

i really can’t point out many like bad things 
about the program but i feel like the best part

of the program for me was just being able to work 
with a bunch of people who are my age in a lab

i also like interned at a lab separately at like 
ucsf but that wasn’t with anyone like my age there

were a few undergrads at our lab but i really like 
how you’re just able to like work with people your

age um and learn about something that you’re 
not really able to learn about at school and

finally like present it it’s like a really fun 
activity but also it adds to your resume later

um in the future when you want to like work 
out a lot when you give people like your

poster at cosmos they kind of look at it and 
it’s like something you have under your boat

but other than that just like learning 
about different topics was great

i guess the one thing i don’t i guess i 
didn’t like at cosmos is i feel like i

wish they would allow you to apply to clusters 
in different campuses because some like for me

i liked a cluster at davis and one at 
irvine but i just wasn’t wasn’t able

to apply to that because you have to only 
apply like choose one campus to apply to

i chose irvine i think i mainly chose it 
because i just liked two of the clusters a

little bit more and there was like more 
biology clusters especially because i

want to go into like pre-med and biology um i 
also just like the location i like in cosmos you

do like a bunch of trips i’m not sure because 
of zoom it’s going to be different but in the

case that you do go back to normal there’s a 
bunch of trips that we go on and i just liked

the social aspect like they took us to the beach 
and they took us to the zoo which was really fun

and their memories i still have today and i like 
have my polaroids on my wall too which is like

cute i believe it was like four thousand 
dollars that you also have to pay to apply

but they do give funding to people who are 
like unable to um and i’m pretty i think

they were kind of generous like i know quite 
a few individuals who are unable to afford it

but if you are you can always reach out and 
they will accommodate towards your needs

personally i didn’t really have any expectations 
it was like the first summer program i went to

and before going to cosmos i worked at a lab and

working at a lab as a high schooler is like i 
think it’s a little bit more flexible where you’re

kind of able to do whatever you want to do and 
like make a fit whatever you want to make of it i

don’t i didn’t i don’t think i expected them 
to be as hands-on just because i didn’t know i

would like have the knowledge to be able to do 
like experiments but like after they lectured

us and we were actually able to like carry on 
our own experiments i kind of found it i guess

exceeding my expectations a little bit because i 
didn’t expect them to like give let us be as free

but i really appreciate that they did because 
i feel like it also let me learn about teamwork

and like adapting to what your team wanted because 
when you’re working in the real world you’re not

able to just like do whatever you want you have 
to listen to everyone else in your group and like

contribute equally which i learned a lot from 
cosmos so i talked about cosmos and my essays

and i think it was something like i could like 
talk about and also something that helped me like

learn what i wanted to do in a career i know like 
a few of my friends at cosmos they were like in a

bio cluster or like they were in a computer 
science cluster where they were coding and

after going there they kind of realized it wasn’t 
something they were interested in so i feel like

it kind of helps you to like discover what you 
want to do in a career especially because we’re

so young and we have so much time like even 
when you go to college you’re not gonna know

automatically what you want to do and that’s 
totally okay um also i feel like it does help

in the sense that it kind of adds something to 
write about and something that you kind of are

passionate about um and going to cosmos definitely 
helps to like get into a lab in the future or like

get into an internship in the future which 
is what a lot of students at colleges do

if you’re going to apply to cosmos i would say 
start early because i think the first cycle it’s

like your first time kind of applying new like a 
program in the way you do for cosmos with like a

rec letter and like essays and also just like be 
honest in your application when our professors

were talking about how they chose people to get 
into the program it’s not really about your grades

and your stats but it’s just they’re looking 
for people who are open to learn so when you’re

writing your application just like talk about how 
you’re really passionate about the topic and how

you want to learn and what you’re going to gain 
instead of kind of flaunting what you already have


SIMR (Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program)

SIMR (Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program)

The team is right next to me. They’re at Berkeley. They’re a Jay Chou. They are at Columbia at Princeton at MIT. So, and the two other people from my school that also made it with me are currently at UConn Harvard.

My name is Tim gingelly. I am a student at Brown. Um, I am a current sophomore going to be a junior next year. And I guess the program talking about today is simmer.

Simmer is the Stanford Institute of Medical Research. So it’s a medical biology Medical Sciences Research Program that Stanford has over the summer. And it’s a really cool program because it’s one of the few programs where they match you directly with a with a researcher, which is most often the professor a PhD, or a doctorate, who is working on either wet lab research or dry larvae from the bioengineering program. And you actually get to work towards building something. So as a, I guess, philosophical overview, simmer has two components. So there’s a wet lab component, and also bioengineering component. So if you’re the wet lab component, that is a five day a week program, um, for 40 hours a week, and if you’re in the bioengineering boot camp, then it’s three days a week, she’s a bit more flexible. So if you’re in the wet lab program, um, then typically, it’s what it sounds like. So you do more but lab kind of research. And I think they’re grouped into subgroups like immunology and cancer research on and so forth on stem cell research, and you work correspondingly on a project at a that’s a current lab is working on, you can just tag on there, but you also get one on one interaction with the professor, which is super useful. For the bio engineering program, you work with groups of students, groups, it’s about groups of four. And it’s interesting because you get to formulate your own project and find your own clinical need and attack it and make a solution there.

It’s just a, it’s a small terminology in the research here, but a wet lab is where you’re working more hands on. So the wet kind of comes from the chemical component or bacterial component. So you’d be working with culture or media you’d have it’s a typical thing when people think of research scientist with gloves on pipetting, you know, mixing solution, so on and so forth. Dry lab is more either analysis lab, or it can also be like engineering predicate lab. So if you’re building a bio engineering device, for example, you’d be working more of like Arduinos breadboards, you’d be building like prototypes, and that necessarily wouldn’t involve the arm involve, like, you know, wet lab components, like pipetting mixtures, or making cultures.

So for this summer, really, I only applied to summer. Um, and I also had a side, like a wet lab thing going on. Um, so I like simmer by engineering, in that it gave you flexibility. So it was only like I said, only three days a week. So it gave me flexibility to pursue other summer projects as well. So if you were working on something else, and you could do it like four days a week, and then similar could be three days a week, whereas the wet lab port port portion of similar which was five days a week was more time intensive, so it was more like this little project we’re working on. And also, um, obviously you get like a stipend, you get paid for it. It’s a pretty good deal. And it familiarizes you with Stanford’s campus and its facilities so very useful. They’re

similar, it honestly. Okay, so what’s nice is that they give you the stipend so it doesn’t have like housing. So they give you a second for transportation. And, um, that so they give you I think, around $500, if you are a top applicant, you get something called an engine scholar, scholarship. So that gives you like $1,000. So really, like you’re you’re all taken care of. So you shouldn’t have to worry about whatever transportation and there’s also Stanford shuttle that comes from like, so I obviously went Irvington. That’s in Fremont. And so there’s a Stanford shuttle that comes right in everyone’s rings. So it’s very, it’s very convenient. I’m from the actual, like, the social aspect and everything. And the food aspect. And everything. December does a really good job of integrating social, the social life into your experience. So every day you have, I think, I think it’s actually like, it’s either every day or every like, once or twice a week or something. But pretty regularly. You have like all similar lunches in this like, big place, they bring in food from outside and like it’s actually really good food compared to dorm food and stuff. It’s really, really good. They spend a lot of money on it. And it’s really like a nice, like, very cool social scene. Everyone, like kind of talks. Chad’s like, there’s this huge friend who’s everyone’s big at a table and like you guys are all talking and chilling. It’s really it’s really nice. It’s like what you’d expect from like your typical close to a college experience. And because seems like a fairly smaller ish group is about 15 people. It’s good. It facilitates bonds and it’s it’s not so being that you don’t know everyone and it’s awkward, but it’s not so small that there’s a small limited friend pool to select from or gets boring. So that’s really nice. I love by engineering, especially because, like I said, You worked in teams of four, but there’s lots of there’s lots of collaboration in between different teams.

too, so we don’t critique each other’s pitches, we would like talk to each other, we would have like our workstations near each other. So we’d see each other as we like, kind of walk by back and forth. And it’s really cool to see because a lot of like, some people work in biomechanics, probably and some people are working on a myocardial infarction project, we were working on the cancer project. So as we were kind of walking by everyone has these different projects and solutions, and you kind of, you know, pitch things help people improve. So that’s, that’s a super cool component as well. And similar actually has a couple of like, really, like nice formal, I think dinner was it was like dinners or lunches or whatever. But you all get into these really fancy rooms and tables, and you all the, it’s like a big presentation, it feels all fancy and formal, which is really, really cool. And there is at the end, there’s like a big similar to like graduation day where everyone has their own poster, like no graduation date, but like a abstract presentation where everyone like, has posters of the research presents it. And it’s super cool. It’s it’s a lot of fun.

It’s a bit of a double edged sword. But I really, really loved being able to work hands on to solve a clinical need that you develop. So this is a bioengineering component. So most other components in every virtually every other research program, you’re tagging onto a research experiment. So it’s not your original methodology. It’s not your original novel idea of pursuit of analyzing a problem and getting there, there’s not very cradle to grave, it’s more of a of a experienced researcher has said, you know, what, I have this, whatever protein, I want to optimize of all the research into it. And you’re going to help me to couple of the protein optimization steps. So it’s like experiential, but I’m really similar engineering was cool, because you work with teams to from scratch, it’s very cradle to grave. So you see, this is a problem I want to work on, you decide on what problem you want to work on, you hone in, you look at the solution space, you look at the competitors on the market, you see how I can better design a device you meet with doctors and everything. So it’s very, it kind of feels like a startup. And I really like that because I have a bit more of an entrepreneurial bent personally. So I really liked being able to merge the two because it seemed like it was very, it was it was more of a bioengineering bio design kind of bio innovation boot camp. So it had both engineering components. But also like, we had like pitch meetings, and we had to do both business pitch deck, as well as like the scientific research methodology deck. So it was very, it was it was it was definitely an interesting experience there. But that also served as a bit of a challenge, because we did have to work in teams before. And although that’s great, we definitely came into big conflicts, our team, definitely that in the moment, I did not enjoy it, because we all had different visions of what projects we wanted to pursue, or my teammates will pursue something and spasticity and like neuroscience related on or pursue something with cancer detection related, my friend wanted to do something pediatric related. So there’s a lot of, I guess, a lot of collaboration and group discussion, and so on and so forth. But looking back, it was a really good introduction to working in teams, especially with large scale projects. But ultimately, like all went well, we we settled on solution space, that kind of combined aspects of something all of us were interested in, and went in with a broader solution that we all were happy with. So I guess that would be what I’d have to say for that.

Simmer, it’s I personally heard about it when I was in, like Middle School, early High School. So it’s a program that’s, um, it’s it’s, it’s unique in that you don’t pay for it, they actually pay you a stipend, and you get hands on research with professors, or, you know, researchers, and that was important to me to get some like wet lab experience, or you know, dry lab experience, volunteering experience, and get that kind of exposure. So it’s, it’s something I heard about I found online, and I thought was pretty cool. Um, so that turned on my radar. I know a lot of most people that have heard about it, either hear about it through word of mouth, or they hear about it from a teacher or friend.

When I was younger, around that age of like middle school, or high school,

or early high school, I wanted to do like research and whatnot research. But, um, especially a lot of people that are interested in biological sciences are limited by this where it’s like, you can’t work legally in BSL two labs unless you’re 16 plus. So I obviously like there’s two routes, many people they, you know, I’m sure you’re all familiar with it reaching out to professors and cold emailing them and getting some kind of opportunity. But they’re also like structured programs that provided for you and they kind of shortcut the process in the pre selected project that you know, you can for sure work on December was one of the few that actually did that. And there were lots of programs out there that are more pay to play, so to speak, where they’re more like, they’re, they’re more advertised as like educational boot camps, and you don’t actually have to do research, but you have to pay like 1000s of dollars and it’s more of like a sticker on your resume, but you don’t learn too much experientially from there. So I like that similar kind of deviated from that and it was like a program that pays you a stipend in addition to giving actual experiencial learning.

So I definitely know that a lot of people I’m like, this is my like, like, disclaimer, my personal thoughts, but I suspect this is what’s true. A lot of people that are like, pay to play summer programs at colleges where if they want

attend those colleges, they’ll say, Okay, if I pay like $5,000 and take classes here, they’ll help us my chances. My personal opinion is that it doesn’t really, um, I wouldn’t highly recommend that simar is one of the few programs that I think would actually help you get into the college. Get into Stanford specifically, because it’s held at Stanford, you’re doing research into facilities, you’re working with professors and researchers into facilities. And for most people, you get your professors that you’re working with to write your recommendation letter, which counts a lot more when you’re applying to that college specifically, and it counts more when you personally know the professor and you’ve done research with them, as opposed to they’ve known you for a short period of time, or they’ve just taught a class and you’re generally a student of how I think it played for me specifically. Um, so my college story is a little bit different. But um, when I was in high school, at least, I was an early decision applicant to brown for the peel me program. So my like the peel me program to the SMD program. So my whole thing was I wanted to do medical engineering. And I wanted to focus my undergrad on engineering, so I don’t have to worry about MCAT medical school requirements. So similar obviously helped my application there when I wanted to prove the case for why I should want to do this and bring something unique to the field of medicine. Um, as far as getting into Stanford itself, so I did end up getting accepted to Harvard and Stanford for their bio engineering programs. I don’t know how much Harvard it would have had an impact, but it definitely played some role in my application, I’m sure because it proved the case for I’ve done by engineering, I’ve done research, I’ve been through the cradle to grave process for Stanford, I definitely think it helped because I got the person at Stanford to help write that recommendation letter for me. Um, so that was that was profoundly helpful. It definitely definitely gave me an insight into that, um, as far as my friends were alumni of the program, it’s been kind of all over the place. So two people from my group one is at Harvard, another one is at, I’m

forgetting she’s, she’s somewhere she’s somewhere on the east coast. That escapes me right now. Other people, alumni from the team is right next to me, they’re at Berkeley, they’re a Jq theatre at Columbia, Princeton, MIT. So and the two other people from my school that also made it with me are currently at U Penn, Harvard, so they’re alumni is pretty generally generally pretty good places. Um, and for the most part, as far as I know, most of them get recommendation letters from the professor to work with. And most of them do talk about to some extent in their essays. So I definitely say it does help. Especially because again, you’re doing hands on research, and you’re having a professor vouch for you.

Um, recommendation wise, um, I think a lot of people mess up in their applications, because they underestimate the importance of the,

of the personal component of their application. So a lot of them overestimate the importance of their grades, their academics, their other achievements. And most people that I know that got rejected tended to focus their essays more on like bragging of like, this is what I’ve done, but I think Sumo cares, beyond like simmer as opposed to a lot of other summer programs out there. Here’s more about personal factors. Um, I like it’s a very, it’s a very, like, very, very cliche advice. But it’s like being set as can be as candid and genuine, as you as earnest as you can be in your essays. A lot of people tend to when they when they sit down to write an essay, they kind of think they kind of write it more like an APA essay. So they use like, they try to write in Super formally super structured paragraph style. And it’s it feels like a basic format and you can tell it kind of sounds rehearsed. And I think essay readers admissions officers can really tell that and this applies to college and stuff too. But I mean, this would have started by December I guess too. Um, so I will try to deviate away from that as much as you can.