High School Intern Programs

There are many opportunities to work with Systems Education Experiences and ISB

Our application window is now closed. Late applications will not be accepted. Please learn more about our programming below, consult the FAQ page, and read our Tips & Tricks for Professional Communications BEFORE contacting our team with questions. All applicants who submitted a complete application are eligible to participate at some level. We will email you from the “@isbscience.org” or “@systemsbiology.org” domains. Please set your email client to receive our emails and monitor your spam and promotions folders. If you need help learning how to do this, view this page. Learn more about this year’s programming below and on these additional pages: Systems Thinkers in STEM Ambassadorship, and the Student Programming FAQ Page. Please come back to these pages for real-time updates. Also, be on the lookout for an email from our team in April. 

One of the key objectives of ISB involves transferring knowledge gained through research to the community for the benefit of society. A second objective is to inspire, prepare and diversify the next generation of researchers. The Systems Education Experiences (SEE) program that operates within the Baliga Lab and across ISB meets and surpasses these objectives through a variety of internship and ambassador programs.

This year we are offering 3 opportunities for high school students. These opportunities will be a mix of in-person and virtual experiences. They begin as soon as this spring and extend potentially throughout the 2023-2024 academic year. The application for all of these opportunities is the same. This means your one, complete application will allow our hiring committee to consider you for all of the opportunities that you are eligible for and interested in. Details on the programs are below. Please read all information available before contacting our staff with questions – the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page should be especially helpful, as well as our Tips & Tricks for Professional Communications. We receive over 300 applications, so we hope you put forth your best work throughout the application process in order to improve your chances of being selected to participate.


1) Systems Thinkers in STEM Ambassadorship (STiSA)

Current 10th and 11th graders are eligible to apply for STiSA. All applicants who complete the full application will be accepted into STiSA and can choose whether or not to participate. You can participate in both STiSA and either of the opportunities below. As a participant, you will first be invited to attend a 2-hour, virtual workshop: “Systems are Everywhere.” You will learn about systems modeling and how systems thinking is used in research and careers. You will then have the opportunity to enroll in one of two virtual micro-courses: “Introduction to Systems Medicine” or “Environmental Systems, Research, and Stewardship.” From there, you will be invited to participate in the final virtual micro-course of the series, “Learning in Motion: Taking Action in Your Community.” These workshops will be held several times throughout the spring and early summer of this year. The invitation to these workshops will come to the email address you share with us in your application materials. After you attend a 2-hour workshop, you will be invited to join the 2023-2024 Systems Thinkers in STEM Ambassador Slack channel. This will allow you to stay connected with our team, and to this year’s cohort of ambassadors, to hear about upcoming opportunities to advance your systems thinking in STEM. These opportunities will be a combination of virtual and in-person offerings that you can participate in according to your interest and availability. See below and this page for more information.


2) 8-Week Summer Internship for Rising Seniors

Current 11th graders only are eligible for ISB’s paid 8-week (~300 hours) formal summer internship. This summer’s possible internship topics include but are not limited to: computational biology (which can include scenarios in health and/or the environment), microbial interactions, resilience and collapse of complex systems, the microbiome, microbial evolution, cancer, systems medicine (medicine that is predictive, preventative, personalized and participatory), and bioengineering with algae. All projects are aligned with a current ISB project which is driven by a mentor. Students will learn about systems biology and apply their learning to a research project. Depending on the project, students will also learn and/or deepen their understanding of scientific, engineering, math, coding, and other professional and computer-based skills. All projects also include: a) interviewing ISB professionals to learn about various career paths, b) building a website that describes the internship project and experience, and c) helping out with school-based curriculum development if pertinent. We are seeking 6-10 temporary High School Interns to work in the Baliga Lab and/or in other ISB Labs. This position will tentatively begin July 5 and end on August 25, 2023. The Interns will work up to 40 hours per week. Interns will receive a stipend of $5,000, split into 3 payments across the summer, that will cover the entire 8-week experience. Please see below for more information.

This internship will be in-person. Interns are required to be fully vaccinated against COVD prior to coming to ISB for in-person work.

3) Environmental Systems in the Outdoors Research Experience

Current 10th and 11th graders only are eligible for an outdoor environmental STEM research experience in the summer of 2023. This experience will be in-person at ISB or outside at multiple field locations in the Seattle area. Students will meet 2-3 days a week, outside at a field location to engage with and define a local environmental system, analyze the health of the system, conduct research, and explore results through the lens of environmental stewardship. The experience will culminate in a project showcase. The exact time and schedule will be co-designed with student participants at the beginning of the summer. We anticipate this will consist of approximately 40-80 hours. All activities will occur during weekdays only. Students will complete investigations on several issues in environmental science, including but not limited to: climate change, microbial community interactions, fungal invasion, and pollution involving nitrogen and microplastics. This opportunity will allow students to get out in the field and learn from scientists and educators through hands-on science. We are seeking up to 10 local high school students for this outdoor experience. Participants will receive a stipend. The amount is still being determined based on our upcoming fundraising efforts. As the program takes shape, we will be adding new details and links – come back again and read more below! Learn more about last year’s virtual experience here.

More information on each experience: 

Systems Thinkers in STEM Ambassadorship (STiSA)

This opportunity is available to all 10th and 11th graders who complete an application to our program. The first opportunity available to students will be to attend a 2-hour, “Systems are Everywhere” micro-course. After that course, students can sign up to be a part of the STiSA network.  This will include joining a Slack Channel. Throughout the summer and school year, opportunities will be posted that students can choose to join and/or contribute to. This year, we will also offer the opportunity to attend 1-2 additional micro-courses about specific topics such as systems medicine, environmental stewardship, and community action projects. This program has been adapted from our 2020-2021 pilot program. See the STiSA page for more information. Individual course descriptions and information on the course progression can be found below:

  • Introduction to Systems Medicine – Students will be introduced to the concept of systems medicine (medicine that is predictive, preventative, personalized and participatory), and how researchers and physicians alike can use this perspective to understand the human body as a complex network of networks.
  • Environmental Systems, Research, and Stewardship: Students will dive into an exploration of how environmental stewardship connects to systems biology, and learn how environmental science research at all levels plays a key role in the fight against global climate change.
  • Learning in Motion: Taking Action in your Community – This micro-course is designed to inspire students to become active participants in their local communities. Students will explore how to identify needs and opportunities within their target community, how to develop a vision and goals for an action project, and review best practices for identifying and engaging with key stakeholders. After the workshop, students will be invited to remain connected with the SEE team and be mentored on their own individual project, which will eventually be showcased on our Featured Student Projects page.

In order to better understand the experiences we offer students, it may be helpful to look through previous years’ webpages and the project pages created by our students.  Though we will not offer the same experiences this summer, our current offerings share goals and components with previous experiences. This is because all of our Systems Education Experiences are centered on the same five goals and 10 design principles.  Here are the links to previous programs so that you can learn more and decide if this year’s experiences meet your current objectives:

8-Week Summer Internship for Rising Seniors

In this internship, high school interns complete systems biology research and, if applicable, help develop hands-on instructional modules for students to use as part of school-based science curriculum.

More detailed information on the 8-week summer internship – Each January, Systems Education Experiences posts a job opportunity on the ISB careers website, enabling high school juniors to apply for a competitive, paid summer internship. This internship is very different than those typically found in research labs. The systems biology approach allows students to work with many specialists, directly involving the students in a variety of projects, using many types of technology and techniques. Students gain valuable microbiology, engineering, and computational experience. Due to the unique nature of this curriculum building and research-based laboratory experience, students are highly engaged in creative problem solving as well as both independent and group learning. The internships are focused on bringing these key opportunities to students who typically would not have access to a professional work environment and a state-of-the-art research lab.

In addition to the scientific and educational components of their 7-week internship, students also meet with a variety of the ISB staff allowing them to explore many types of professions and career paths. Who they speak with is up to the students, but usually, students meet with faculty members, research scientists, as well as administrative, legal, development, financial, and other “Minds of ISB.”

The program has been highly successful and is externally evaluated promoting the best experience possible. Jessica, an intern who went on to attend UC Berkeley, had the following to say about her time at ISB. “I learned how to work collaboratively in a lab setting. It was also great to get a feeling for what it is like to be a research scientist. I realized that I can come into something being completely ignorant and gain an understanding of what is happening by asking questions and doing research.”

“This was a really great thing to realize because it made the knowledge of people in the lab seem a lot more accessible to me and a more realistic goal,” Jessica added. “It taught me that I can, although it will take a while, become as knowledgeable about science as the researchers in the lab.”

To showcase their work and to document their experience, students learn from a skilled web designer to develop their own web pages. View the pages to learn more about what the interns do during their summer at ISB. If you are wondering what a standard day might be like for an intern, the 2012 interns put together a quick glance into a typical day at the end of their About Us page. Our 2014 interns also put together a page with information for applicants. For more student comments on the internship, please view this short video featuring our 2011 interns and the above-referenced video featuring one of our 2016 interns. For general information and intern news items, see our main ISB Webpage and search using appropriate terms, such as “intern” and/or topics you are specifically interested in. Also, see the SEE and ISB YouTube channels for more videos that highlight our science and experiences. As an example, these two videos by Amy Zamora (here and here) specifically speak to how ISB is different from other institutes for young scientists.

If you have questions, please view our frequently asked questions (FAQ) page. You can also view this 3-minute video for more information on SEE and our 8-week internship. Also, peruse the 2020 interns’ website and the 2021 interns’ website to learn more about what it is like to have a fully remote ISB Internship. For assistance with the application process, explore our Tips & Tricks for Professional Communications page.

Even years after their internships, students stay in touch. Sue Yi, a 2008 intern, emailed us after she completed her BS at the University of Notre Dame in 2014. She was preparing to enter an MD/PhD program and wanted to let us know that her high school internship was, “…a great experience and really good to get started early. My experience in the Baliga lab is what inspired me to try research out in college and look where that has led me!”

Environmental Systems in the Outdoors Research Experience

In this program, students will work with educators, scientists, and researchers to learn about environmental systems and science in order to take action in their community.

More detailed information on the Environmental Systems in the Outdoors Research Experience:

This experience will cover topics including field research, microplastics, water and soil quality testing, microbial communities, pollution, and other topics related to environmental science and climate change. This opportunity will be a great way to get hands-on experience in the outdoors, explore environmental systems, and learn about the next steps to save our local land and water habitats.

If you have questions that are not addressed in the web materials and resources, please contact our team at see@isbscience.org.