The Simons Summer Research Program at Stony Brook University is an outstanding opportunity open to US citizens and permanent residents, attending high school who are interested in pursuing careers in science, mathematics, and engineering. This programme provides participants with hands-on experience in research and exposure to the culture of scientific inquiry.
Overview of the Program
The Simons Summer Research Program is designed to provide an immersive research experience to high school students who have demonstrated exceptional talent in science, mathematics, or engineering.
Running for seven weeks during the summer, from late June to mid-August, students work on a research project under the guidance of a Stony Brook University faculty mentor. What makes Simons stand out from other STEM research summer programmes is that Simons Fellows (accepted students) can choose to identify a member of faculty who is conducting research into an area they are interested in and ask them to act as their mentor for the duration of the program. Participants attend seminars, workshops, and social events that provide opportunities to network with other students, faculty, and researchers.
The focus for the 7 weeks that the program runs, is hands on work based in a lab, often working alongside graduate students and faculty members. During the program, the Fellows work to undertake original research on the cutting edge of the field they are working in. They get to know how to undertake research at a university level which will hopefully prepare them for the work they will undertake as an undergraduate and progress into careers in science. In addition to working on their research work, Fellows will also attend seminars, take part in weekly research workshops and join social events that provide opportunities to network with other students, faculty and researchers. In addition, there are also trips to see other research labs and talk to the people working in their field of interest. At the end of the programme, there is a poster symposium where the Fellow’s present their work to the rest of the program, faculty members and guests, including their families.
Entry Requirements and Cost
Applicants must be in their Junior year at the time of applying and are currently enrolled in high school in the United States or its territories, or who are US citizens studying abroad. Students who have completed their junior year and are at least 16 years old are eligible to apply.
There are no tuition costs for attending the programme, however Fellows must fund costs for transportation, on campus dining and accommodation. On completion of the poster symposium students are presented with a stipend which can help cover costs incurred.
How to Apply
The program is highly competitive, and students are selected based on their academic achievements, personal statements, and letters of recommendation. The program has a limited number of spots available, and only the most qualified applicants are accepted.
Unlike most other summer programs, to apply to become a Simons Fellow you have to first be nominated by your school. As each school is only able to nominate two students per year it is likely that whoever is nominated is going to be one of the top science students in Grade 11. In addition to the school nomination, applicants will also need to complete an online application form, which needs to be completed in one sitting and takes up to four hours. Additional requirements for the application are, recommendations from two maths/science teachers, and your official transcript, ideally this will include grades for the first part of Grade 11 but these can be submitted later if not available when you apply. Finally, there are several short answer questions and essays that you need to complete. Many people find the short answer questions the most challenging part of the process. Students applying in 2022 had seven questions covering things like, ‘Why do you want to participate in SSRP?’ or ‘Briefly summarize any previous research experience’. The challenge is that there is a 700 character limit for each question.
The application deadline is usually in mid-February, and applicants are notified of their acceptance in mid-April.
Competitiveness and Types of Students Accepted
Accepting around only 40 Fellows a year and with an acceptance rate of around 8%, the Simons Summer Research Program is very competitive. While Simons says that prior research experience is not a requirement for being accepted onto the program, it is true to say that most people who are accepted will have participated in some kind of research activity. It may be working in a lab alongside a mentor, or an independent research project where you have planned and undertaken your own research activity.
The Simons Summer Research Program is an excellent opportunity for students interested in science, mathematics, and engineering to gain hands-on experience and explore potential career paths. It provides a unique opportunity to work with world-class researchers and gain exposure to the culture of scientific inquiry. Successful applicants tend to be highly motivated, academically accomplished students with a passion for research and a strong interest in pursuing a career in science, mathematics, or engineering.
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