High School Intern Programs

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

The 2022 application window is now closed. Applications were due on March 16, 2022. Late applications will not be accepted. The next application period will begin in mid-January 2023. 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 submited a complete application were eligible to participate at some level and received and email invite in April or May 2022. We emailed 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 summer and school year’s programming below and on these additional pages: Systems Thinkers in STEM Ambassadorship, and the Student Programming FAQ Page. To apply for next year’s positions, come back to this webpage and the ISB Careers page in mid-January 2023. 

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, depending on COVID-19 restrictions. They begin as soon as this spring and extend potentially throughout the 2022-2023 academic year. The application for all of these opportunities was 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 received 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 were 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. These workshops will be held many times throughout the spring and early summer of this year. The invitation to this workshop 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 2022-2023 Systems Thinkers in STEM Ambassador Slack channel. This will allow you to stay connected with our team 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) 7-Week Summer Internship for Rising Seniors

Current 11th graders only are eligible for ISB’s paid 7-week (~280 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 4-10 temporary High School Interns to work in the Baliga Lab and/or in other ISB Labs. This position will begin July 5 and end on August 19, 2022. The Interns will work up to 40 hours per week. Interns will receive a stipend of $4,700, split into 3 payments across the summer, that will cover the entire 7-week experience. Please see below for more information.

Depending on COVID numbers, this internship may be fully remote via computers, virtual meetings, at-home lab experiments, etc. However, it is our hope that we will be able to have some in-person and in-lab time this summer. If we are able to offer in-person activities, we will need to verify interns are fully vaccinated prior to coming to ISB for in-person work.

3) Environmental Systems in the Outdoors Research Experience

****We have updated this experience as of 2/15/2022****

Current 10th and 11th graders only are eligible for an outdoor environmental STEM research experience in the summer of 2022. This experience will be a virtual opportunity that allows students to learn science in order to take action in their community. Students will meet virtually 2-3 days a week to learn from scientists, researchers, educators, and their peers about environmental STEM field research. From there, participants will go outside to a nearby field location in their hometown 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 50 students for this virtual experience. Stipends will be made available to those who express need – when applying there is a question that prompts you to enter this information which will be kept confidential. Since we are creating this program this year from the ground up, we will be adding new details and links – come back again and read more below!

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 program has been adapted from our 2020-2021 pilot program. See the STiSA page for more information.

Also, 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:

7-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 7-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 than other institutes for young scientists.

If you have questions, please view our frequently asked questions (FAQ) page. 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 pilot program, students will work with educators, scientists, and researchers to learn about environmental systems and science in order to take action in their community. As of February 15, 2022, due to out-of-state student interest and changes in available resources, we shifted the Environmental Systems in the Outdoors Research Experience. The application was open to both local and non-local students who were interested in applying! The experience will be primarily virtual, but students will be equipped with the skills for going outside to investigate their local environment using a holistic systems approach. Synchronous sessions will be centered around learning about and modeling environmental systems. Then asynchronous times will be spent outside, choosing your systems and planning and implementing your environmental research study. Applications for this experience closed in March 2022. Email our team if you have any questions (see@isbscience.org).

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 and virtually 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.