High School Intern Programs

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

If you are interested in applying, this year’s application window is now closed. We received a record number of applications this year – nearly 600! Please learn more about our programming below and on our Systems Thinkers in STEM Ambassador page, and on the FAQ page before contacting our team with questions. We are currently working with a number of students who applied last year for positions for academic year internships. For more information on that process, please see this page. Next year’s formal positions will open for applications in January 2022.

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 within the Baliga Lab meets and surpasses these objectives through a variety of internship and ambassador programs.

During the summer of 2021 summer, we offered 2 opportunities for high school students. Both opportunities were virtual. The application for each of these opportunities was the same. Details on the programs are below and will be updated with new links and information throughout the coming months. Please read all information available before contacting our staff with questions – the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page should be especially helpful.

1. Current juniors (11th graders) only are eligible for ISB’s paid 8-week (~320 hour) formal summer internship. This summer’s possible internship topics include but are not limited to: computational biology, the microbiome, 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 understanding in 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 2-10 temporary High School Interns to work in the Baliga Laboratory and/or other ISB Labs. This position will tentatively begin Monday, June 28 and end on August 20, 2021. The Interns will work up to 40 hours per week. Pay rate is $16.69/hour.

2. Current 10th and 11th graders can apply to be part of our brand new, Systems Thinkers in STEM Ambassador Program. All applicants who complete the full application will be accepted into the first tier of this program and can choose whether or not they participate. The program will consist of two tiers.

    • As a 1st Tier participant, you would be invited to attend a 2-hour micro-course: “Systems are Everywhere.” You will learn about systems modeling and how systems thinking is used in research and careers.  These courses will be held many times throughout the winter and spring of this year. You will be able to sign up to participate when you complete your application. With nearly 600 applicants, it took us time to email each person, and all eligible applicants have been emailed. Check your spam folder and filters. The email came from see@isbscience.org.
    • After Tier 1, if you are interested, you will be eligible to participate in Tier 2. Tier 2 participants will select one, 20-hour interactive course on interdisciplinary systems research content and careers. Options include systems medicine, cancer biology, climate change, computational modeling, bioengineering, oceanography, aquaponics, technology development, and more! The Tier 2 courses will begin in late spring and will extend into the Fall of 2021.  The program will culminate in independent Ambassador projects that will be showcased in October. Tier 2 participants will receive a stipend for participation. The amount is still being determined based on our upcoming fundraising efforts and the number of participants. We initially estimated participants would each receive a stipend for $150 or more. However, now that we had 600 applicants, we may need to adjust this and will email all participants about details in mid-April. Since we are creating this program this year from the ground up, we will be adding new details and links to this page – come back again and read more below!

See below for more information on each program and view the FAQ page

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 8-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, a 2007 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 last year’s interns’ website to learn more about what it is like to have a fully remote ISB Internship.

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!”

Systems Thinkers in STEM Ambassador Program In this pilot ambassador program, students will work in cohorts to learn systems modeling and systems thinking and will apply their learning to a scientific project. View this page for more information on the program.

Also learn more about our previous ambassador programs, workgroups, and courses to better understand the types of experiences we offer high school students through these links:

All high school student experiences are guided by ten design principles. These principles are further divided into 5 main goals for all high school student experiences. While the experience itself may change (e.g. wet bench research versus computational workgroups versus food security ambassadorship) the main goals and outcomes are similar. These goals are to:

  • LEARN about systems,
  • DEVELOP professional skills,
  • EXPLORE new topics,
  • COLLABORATE on team projects and
  • NETWORK socially and professionally.

The intended outcomes of all of our experiences are to build on students’ STEM interest, proficiency, and 21st Century Skills and to support more diverse participation in STEM. This includes improving STEM identity, confidence, and social capital. For more information on the benefits of SEE programming please view our Impact webpage.