Top Summer Programmes: Summer Research Academies

The Summer Research Academies provides a stimulating summer program for eligible high school students. The program offered by the University of California, Santa Barbara is designed to introduce students to the research process in STEM, Humanities, and Social Sciences fields.

Students enroll in a university course worth 4 units, where they can select and develop a research topic under the guidance of an instructor. This is a chance for students to enhance their academic and professional skills by presenting their research findings in a capstone seminar, networking with peers, and gaining valuable experience in a challenging university environment.

The program dates for 2024 are June 27 – July 26, 2024

Students must attend the program in its entirety, beginning with the virtual component and ending with the closing events.

Application Window: December 15, 2023 – April 1, 2024
Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis.

If you want to join the 2025 cohort, you can get the details by clicking the link below.

Overview | UCSB Summer Sessions

The students have to choose any one of these tracks before they apply for the program:

Track Descriptions

Track 1: Bionic Creatures – Taking Inspiration From Nature for Innovative Engineering

Through this course, students understand the intersection of mechanical engineering and biology. They are exposed to interdisciplinary thinking and scientific discovery. Students investigate case studies on locomotion, animal swarms, and bioinspired materials, and apply engineering principles to identify organisms with interesting features and translate them into bioinspired designs with positive societal value.

Track 2: Social Chemistry – Exploring the Human Connection Through Digital Community and Identity

The impact of hashtags on social media platforms has been far-reaching, This course focuses on the role of online communities in shaping our daily experiences. Using social identity theory, it examines how online communities utilize users’ unique identities for collaboration and action. Case studies like  #Black Lives Matter and #MeToo illustrate the socio-cultural implications of networking platforms

Track 3: Decoding Bias – Investigating Media Narratives Through Data Science

Through this data science course, students apply theoretical and methodological frameworks to assess biases in media content. They will not only analyze multimodal data using traditional and computational content analytic techniques but also develop practical skills in natural language processing and computer vision, and contextualize their findings in real-world scenarios, impacting media policy, journalism practices, and academic literature.

Track 4: Resistance is Futile – Developments in the Fight Against Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria

The highlight of this program is that students will explore the microbial world of bacteria, how scientific drugs are designed, and current clinical treatments for infections. They will learn about bench science research techniques and silico techniques to investigate strategies for combating public health threats, including drug resistance, and explore bench science research techniques like bacterial cell culture and microscopy.

Track 5: Legal Labyrinth – Interrogating American Politics through Secularism and Religion

A contentious issue since its founding was the role of religion in the US government. It has been wrought with tensions between religious and secular ideologies affecting partisan politics. This course explores how religion and secularism influence court cases, elections, policy decisions, public opinion, and American culture through an interdisciplinary approach, examining the nuances of religious and secular thought.

Track 6: Making Bio-Sense – Improving Biosensors Through Biological Tools and Empirical Measurements

Biosensing is a technology that uses nature’s mechanisms to quantify small molecular targets, DNA, and whole cells. This course explores modern developments in biosensing technologies, focusing on mechanisms for quantification, sensing platforms, and real-world implementations. Students will apply techniques like electrochemistry and circular dichroism to optimize sensors and investigate concepts like sensitivity vs. selectivity, free energy, and target binding mechanisms.

Track 7: Our Burning Planet – Addressing the Human Dimensions of the Climate Crisis

Climate change is a global issue influenced by factors like imperialism, inequality, and poverty. This course aims to equip students with the skills to research and communicate the crisis scientifically and ethically, while also addressing methodological, theoretical, practical, and emotional challenges. Students will critically engage with climate change science and publish their findings in public media.

Track 8: Mind the [Health] Gap – Analyzing Health Disparities with the Social-Spatial Determinants of Health

The US life expectancy is 76 years, but disparities in health outcomes are largely driven by social-spatial determinants of health, such as living, working, and playing environments. This interdisciplinary course explores these gaps, focusing on concepts from demography, health geography, and public health, and teaches data visualization and analytical techniques to investigate health disparities in various contexts.

Track 9: Vital Code – Probing the Dynamics Between Nuclear and Mitochondrial Genomes

This course explores the relationship between mitochondria and nuclear genomes, focusing on their regulation and impact on aging, cancer, mutations, and apoptosis. Students will use C. elegans as a model organism and employ genetics techniques to understand the effects of this interaction on evolution and disease. The goal is to provide real answers to mitochondrial genetics questions.

Track 10: Data Beneath – Diving Into Marine Conservation Challenges Through Open Source Data Analysis

This course explores marine ecology data science to understand conservation challenges and patterns. Students will examine topics like climate change impact, ocean acidification, ecological cascade, and unsustainable fishing. The course aims to equip students with data science skills for future research and deepen their understanding of marine species and ecosystems.

Track 11: Strategic Choices – The Power of Behavioral Economic Theory in Explaining Human (Mis)Behavior

Decision-making is a crucial aspect of everyday life, influenced by cognitive and psychological biases. This course explores how economists use microeconomic and game theories to understand human behavior and how these biases can deviate from normative economics. It also examines how these biases can be applied to policies to improve decision-making and build more realistic models.

Track 12: Neuromorphic Computing – Hardware and Software Co-design for Neuro-Inspired Engineering

Machine learning and artificial intelligence have grown rapidly, but they struggle to achieve general intelligence due to increased computing and energy costs. Researchers are using brain-inspired computing techniques to overcome these challenges. This course explores neural networks, spiking neural networks, and stochastic computing, focusing on cross-stack collaboration and understanding the human brain’s inspiration.


Advanced 9th graders and qualified students in 10th and 11th grades with a 3.6 (weighted, UC a–g requirements) are eligible for the program.

The online application includes:

High School Transcript

Personal Statement – In a 500-word maximum essay, please tell us why you want to participate in SRA, the reason you selected a particular research track(s), and something unique about you that you’d like the admissions committee to know.

Short Responses

  • Briefly share what you specifically hope to learn from the track(s) you have chosen.
  • What skills, interests, or talents do you possess that will enable you to succeed in the chosen track(s)?
  • Create a hashtag describing you and/or your life and elaborate on why you chose it.

2024 Program Cost Breakdown

Cost of Attendance: The student can choose the commuter or the residential program:

Commuter Option: $ 2,575

  • $75 Application Fee (non-refundable)
  • $700 Enrollment Deposit (non-refundable; applied to the Tuition and Program Fees)
  • $2,500 Tuition and Program Fees

Residential Option:

  • $75 Application Fee (non-refundable)
  • $700 Enrollment Deposit (non-refundable; applied to the Tuition and Program Fees)
  • $2,500 Tuition and Program Fees
  • $5,649 Housing and Meal Fees


In conclusion, the Summer Research Academies program offered by UC Santa Barbara is a fantastic opportunity for eligible high school students to gain valuable research experience in STEM, Humanities, and Social Sciences fields. Through project-based, directed research, students will develop their academic and professional skills, as well as gain exposure to university life in a challenging environment.

We can help you with your SRA application process. Working with study abroad consultants, overseas education consultants, or, as more commonly known, college counselors, can help you plan and make those high school years count. Ivy Central offers exceptional focus to help you prepare for college admissions throughout the high school years. Start today!

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