Undergraduate Intern Program
The Center was essential for establishing our undergraduate intern training program. Since 2006 the Center has directly supported 97 full time (40 plus hours per week) undergraduate students to train for ten weeks in systems biology during the summer. Over 35 of these students, 42%, were identified as disadvantaged or of minority status (or both). Our students range from freshmen to recently graduated seniors (who have demonstrated they have been accepted to graduate school). The students come from colleges throughout the United States and have diverse academic backgrounds in the sciences, as well as the arts, humanities, and business. The undergraduate intern program continues to provide these self-motivated young scientists effective education, training and mentoring in systems biology, and (as importantly) the practice of research in a collaborative environment.
The program provides students one: one mentoring for their research projects and ten hours of interactive lunch discussions on systems biology-related topics (“What is systems biology?”, “Math for Biologists”, “The Systems Biology of Violence”, “Research compliance and ethics”, “STEM and careers”, “Adventures from the Field”, and “Professional Social Networking for Scientists”). The lunch discussions also provide examples of current research projects that show the application and integration of systems biology approaches to global health and infectious disease (“Systems Biology, Global Health and Infectious Disease”). In addition the trainees work as a group to develop webpages detailing their summer internship and experiences, and create a team-led institute-wide Discussion Group (see Culture) about their perceptions and lessons learned from their training. The program culminates with an institute-wide, mentors, family and friends poster session allowing the students the opportunity to present their scientific results (and, better, their lessons learned) to a large audience of experienced scientists.
Additionally the Center indirectly supports undergraduate students at ISB through two main avenues: by inviting and including the student in all components of the Center-supported summer training program including students from local research institutes that lack their own summer training programs for undergraduates, and/or by providing the students direct consumables and facility support for their summer research projects. To date the Center has supported over 50 students in one or both of these ways.