A high school intern is mentored in the lab.

Photo by Ben Koo

Inspire High School Students this Summer


The Science and Health Education Partnership (SEP) at UCSF is currently recruiting scientists to serve as day-to-day mentors to high school students for its High School Intern Program.

Help SEP inspire San Francisco’s youth to pursue careers in science; help them create accurate ideas about who scientists are and who can become a scientist; work closely with a high school student at a critical time in his/her life, and make a strong impact on the student’s educational and career goals.

What is it?

This summer, SEP’s High School Intern Program will bring 30 high school students from San Francisco public schools to conduct research in UCSF labs. Under the guidance of a lab mentor, high school students complete a short-term research project and gain authentic research experience, develop a better understanding of science and career opportunities, and are able to become part of a professional community.

What’s the time commitment?

Interns commit to working a minimum of 180 hours over the course of the eight week program, which includes an average of 17.5 hours per week spent in lab, and 40 hours in group activities outside of lab for college counseling, field trips, and weekly meetings with program coordinators.

Once the program begins on June 6, the mentor and intern will work together to determine the daily schedule that is best suited to the lab and other commitments. At the end of the program, all interns present their summer research projects in a 10-minute research talk on July 20 and 21, and a poster presentation on July 28.

Who are the interns?

Students are initially nominated for the program by a science teacher at their high school and go through an extensive application and selection process.

“I don't think I would be the person I am today without the experiences I had in the lab.”

“The long hours in the fly room taught me a lot about both accepting failure as a natural part of growing up and the value of hard work. It's made my college experience truly fulfilling,” said one SEP high school intern.

SEP selects interns who are excited about learning, curious about science, and motivated by the opportunity to work in a UCSF lab. Additionally, they look for evidence of maturity and responsibility – students who we feel will interact well with all members of a laboratory.

Most importantly, they want this program to make a critical difference in the lives of students – giving them the opportunity to work on a research project, explore career options, experience a university environment, and learn from a mentor.

Most of the students are from groups underrepresented in the sciences, would be the first in their family to attend college, and/or have faced a variety of challenges yet show great potential through their enthusiasm and engagement in science.

Who are the mentors?

Mentors play a significant role in the students’ experience as they work closely with their intern to identify his/her needs, teach the necessary background so the intern can carry out an independent project, and help them integrate into the lab setting.

The lab group is an important set of individuals who act as guides and role models, particularly in helping the intern understand the diversity of pathways toward college and a career in science.

The mentor is the day-to-day guide and teacher for the intern, and supports the intern in all aspects of the lab experience, as well as with the preparation for their talk and final poster presentation. Over the program’s 20 year history, SEP has had PIs, post-docs, graduate students and research associates all participate as lab mentors; we are open to communications with anyone who may be interested.

If you’re interested in becoming a mentor or have question, please get in touch with Jean MacCormack at [email protected] or 415 476-0338, and Lakisha Witzel at [email protected] or 415 476-0337.