Science Internship Program

Program Website:

Contact: Director, Raja Guhathakurta (, 831-459-5169)

Target Audience: high-achieving high school students in the south Bay Area (particularly young women)

Applicable to: researchers from all departments in PBSci and BSOE, particularly those with a heavy quantitative or computing emphasis

Program Description:

High-achieving math- and science-oriented high school students from all over the Bay Area and beyond work with UCSC STEM researchers on projects that are part of their mentor’s broader research program. Founded in 2009 by astronomy professor Raja Guhathakurta and now supported by UCSC’s Silicon Valley Initiatives, SIP’s mission is to facilitate a life-altering experience for high school students, by placing them as summer interns in research labs, where they work as members of a real scientific research team and engage in research project design, the application of accepted methods and best practices, data collection and analysis, and summary report preparation.  Interns also benefit from participating in workshops on technical writing and public speaking, social activities, and field trips to local Santa Cruz attractions. Many interns live in the UCSC dorms during the internship, but others commute from their homes.

The SIP intern enjoys many benefits by being immersed in a research project. He/she learns sophisticated research techniques, comes to understand the broader context of her/his project within the overall scientific discipline, and, most importantly, becomes familiar with the sociology of collaborative research. Participants have a high rate of success in national science competitions, such as the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology and the Intel Science Talent Search. The mentor’s research project is helped by the intern’s contribution.  

Most SIP interns commit to working full-time at least 8 weeks during the summer. Many SIP mentors have found it advantageous to work with small groups of 2-3 SIP interns as the interns generally learn more by working on teams. The program ends with all interns giving a presentation; many interns write up their research projects for national science competitions or posters at professional societies.

Number of Students Served Annually: 61 students in 2013 (about 60% female)

How Researchers Can Contribute:

  • Mentor a high school student in your lab during the summer. Most primary SIP mentors are Ph.D. students or postdocs at UCSC – but they do have the approval and cooperation of their faculty adviser in their role as a SIP mentor.  After the summer, interns may ask mentors to give feedback on science competition materials or write college letters of recommendation.
  • Lead workshop on scientific skills, such as reading and writing technical papers and giving technical and public talks.
  • Give a seminar on your research to the SIP interns or lead them on an expedition to your field site.

In the News:

  • Stephens, Tim. 2013. “UCSC internships for high school students yield success in science contests.” UCSC press release. (link)