"Simply put, this experience exceeded my expectations: instead of getting a mere window into research at a major institution, I felt like I was knee-deep in truly engaging work at the bench and contributing to the lab."
Applications for Summer 2022 are Closed!
Check out our new website here!
About the Program
The Undergraduate Summer Internship is our headline program for bringing new minds into our scientific community. Each year, we recruit a vibrant cohort of undergraduates with a passion for science and a curiosity about what doing a PhD or MD/PhD might look like. Interns are paid $6000 and provided with housing to work in labs at Harvard's Quantitative Biology Initiative and the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School for 9 weeks (June 13th – August 12th, 2022). Interns learn together as a cohort through interactive journal clubs and workshops, and participate in Harvard seminars and activities.
Participants in our summer program can expect to emerge with: (i) increased confidence in scientific research, writing, and communication; (ii) increased awareness of the research opportunities and career paths a biology PhD offers; and (iii) connections with the Harvard faculty, students, and researchers who make our university great. Participants will also gain a group of peers who are also embarking on an exciting adventure into higher education in science and medicine.
Internships will be in-person, Covid permitting, with students working on independent research projects in labs either on the Harvard campus in Cambridge, MA or the Harvard Medical School Campus in Boston, MA. Housing will be provided for each intern. A free Harvard shuttle that connects the two campuses will be available to all interns. Travel costs will be covered separately for admitted students to support travel to Harvard at the start of the internship and return to their home location at the end.
Are we right for you?
We are eager to receive applications from enthusiastic, thoughtful undergraduates excited by the idea of pursuing a PhD or MD/PhD one day. We are most interested in attracting eager students who can bring new perspectives to our enterprise, who are dedicated to learning as much as they can, who are willing to try and fail and try again, and who are committed to creating a vibrant, respectful, and supportive community. Students from under-represented minorities or disadvantaged backgrounds are especially encouraged to apply.
Projects will be all over the biological map: how cells grow, divide, and differentiate in health and disease; how DNA damage impacts cell cycle and cancer; how brains learn and remember; how proteins transport molecules across cell membranes; how branching things (plants, coral, etc) build themselves; how RNA folds into functional molecules; how ants behave; how to make sense of genetic sequences; how the environment and genes interact in health and disease; everything! Our research projects are unified by taking a very quantitative look at biological phenomena. Projects can range from entirely "wet-lab" to entirely computational, and may involve biology, statistics or math, some physics or theory, and image or sequence analysis. If you have experience in these areas, great. If not, we'll teach you. We'll make sure we match you to a project that's a good fit to your background and interests.
Our cohorts have included rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Our interns were majoring in all sorts of things: molecular & cellular biology, English, bioengineering, computer science, electrical engineering, math, music, and statistics. Students participated from all over the US and proudly represented UMass Boston, UC Berkeley, Northeastern, Kenyon, Johns Hopkins, Spelman, Gettysburg, Duke, Columbia, and Clemson.
While we welcome different years, majors, and backgrounds, there are 3 hard requirements: candidates must be: (a) US citizens or permanent residents, (b) currently enrolled full-time in good standing at an accredited public or private college or university in the United States or a US territory, and (c) 18 years or older by the start of the program (June 12th, 2022).
To apply, please prepare the following materials and upload them as PDF files to this portal.
Instructions for creating an application portal account:
- Non- Harvard Students please create an XID HERE.
- Harvard Students please use your Harvard Key to sign on.
- Once your XID is created, log-in to begin your application HERE.
- Make sure you click on the XID tab at the top.
- This will serve as your log-in to come back to your application if needed.
Deadline: February 7th, 2022 at 11:00pm EST
Materials to upload to the application portal:
(1) Resume/CV: Please use the CV template provided here to create a 1-2 page document which summarizes your educational and work experience. Feel free to include scientific and non-scientific work, activities, hobbies, groups, etc. We are interested in seeing evidence that you are a hard worker and a good community member.
(2) Transcripts: You don’t need perfect grades to apply (though we’ll be impressed if you have them!). We are interested in seeing evidence that you are serious about learning, that you push yourself, and that you’re not afraid of a challenge. Transcripts should include information for all undergraduate courses you have taken at the time you apply. If you have attended multiple institutions, you can upload one transcript if that transcript lists all transfer credits. If it does not, you should upload a transcript from each institution you have attended.
(3) Writing prompts: Please answer Essay 1 and Essay 2. Plan on writing a total of two pages double-spaced for both essays combined. Essay 3 is optional and should be 300 words (approximately one paragraph).
Essay 1: Why are you thinking of getting a PhD (either on its own, or in conjunction with an MD)? What are you thinking of doing with the degree? This is an opportunity to let us know who you are, where you’re going, and how we can help. Were there courses you took, research you did, books you read, teachers you had, or problems you encountered that made you want to get the degree? What motivates you to keep going? Please tell us what you are hoping to get from this summer program, and why this summer is the best time for you to join us.
Essay 2: We love biology! We want to know what you love about it, too. Here are lists of labs in our community. Please select a lab whose research you are interested in and tell us why. We want to learn about what types of science most interest you. Please note that this does not commit you to working with the chosen lab, or on the specific project. Lab and project availabilities are subject to change.
Optional Essay 3 (limit 300 words): What is the most important aspect of your life outside of lab? Our cohort have included dancers and musicians, from amateurs to the captain of the university salsa team. A couple of our students were really interested in history. One of our students takes care of her grandma. Another writes profiles of women scientists to put on Wikipedia. What are you up to when you’re not in lab? Why is it important to you? Does it make it harder to be a scientist or does it make it easier?
(4) Two Recommendations: We need recommendations from 2 different people who are familiar with your work in an academic or research setting. Please ask them ahead of time – everyone is busy and you want them to give you a good letter. Ideally, ask them 1-2 months ahead of time. Then remind them 1 month and also 2 weeks ahead of the deadline. It’s not rude. Just respond to your initial email, thank them again, and ask if they need anything. If you feel comfortable, you can send them your resume and/or your transcript and/or your answers to the prompts above.
Thank you for applying. We look forward to reading your application!
Please contact jennie_epp AT hms.harvard.edu with questions.