Summer Science Research
Undergraduate research initiatives are central to Bryn Mawr College's approach to science education. All science majors are encouraged to conduct mentored research projects during the summer and/or academic year. Students can apply to receive stipends for summer research and academic credit for research performed in the junior and senior years. Since 1989, each summer the College has provided 35-plus students with 10-week research stipends to conduct independent research under the guidance of Bryn Mawr faculty members in the sciences and mathematics. The Summer Science Research (SSR) program is enriched by professional development workshops and a poster session at which students present their research to the college community. The program is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion.
The program is for Bryn Mawr and Haverford students who are interested in doing discovery-based research in the laboratory or field with Bryn Mawr STEM faculty.
- Dates for the 2021 SSR program are May 31 to Aug. 5.
- Applicants must complete the Summer Science Research Application (2022 due date extended to April 3, 11:59 p.m.). Applicants will write two 250-word essays: a Research Statement, and a Personal Statement. The Research Statement addresses the research goals to be explored over the summer, while the Personal Statement addresses how this research will contribute to the student's life and academic goals, and how it fits in with goals in their future years at Bryn Mawr and beyond.
- Applications are reviewed by potential faculty mentors and the SSR directors; notifications of acceptance to the program will be sent out during the first week in April.
How do I get started with applying to the SSR program?
Bryn Mawr STEM department websites contain lists of faculty members, their emails, and links to their lab websites. Begin by visiting these sites to learn more about your potential mentors’ research. After that, reach out to the Bryn Mawr STEM faculty in the department(s) you wish to work (email is one easy way to do so) and schedule a 30-minute meeting to discuss the possibility of working in their lab in summer. During that meeting you will learn about the availability of projects you could get involved in; what you learn in this meeting will be excellent material for your Research Statement.
Some questions you could ask during the meeting are:
- In what field of [chemistry, biology…] are the current projects in your lab?
- Given my course work and interest in […] what projects can I work on in your lab?
- Do I need to have completed specific courses to work in your lab?
- What literature can I read to learn more background about the project?
- Is research in your lab conducted remotely or in person?
- How do I improve my chances of working in your lab as part of the SSR program? Do you prefer to take students who work with you during the academic year? If so, do you currently have openings?
- How likely am I to secure a spot in your lab? Do you recommend that I apply for the SSR program to work with you?
Some departments offer a talk in the beginning of the spring semester during which faculty members give a short presentation of their research and provide important information (such as how many students they need in summer). If your department of interest provides such a talk, attending it is very useful as it will help you learn about research opportunities and figure out which potential faculty mentors to contact. Information about these talks will be posted here when it becomes available.
Can I participate in the SSR program during the summer after my first year?
The answer to this question depends on the needs of specific faculty mentors—but it is definitely not a hard “no”. Some faculty mentors, due to the demands of their research, can only work with students who have taken some advanced classes. Faculty mentors should share any prerequisite requirements with you when you meet with them to learn about possible projects. That being said, over the past years several students have been successful in obtaining a SSR stipend for the summer after their first year. If you are a first-year student wishing to get research experience through the SSR program, you are encouraged to reach out to multiple faculty mentors rather than focus on a single “research area” to have better chances of finding an opportunity.
Can a student participate in the SSR program for multiple summers?
Absolutely! Many successful SSR students establish excellent professional relationships with their faculty mentors—as a result, the faculty mentors strongly desire to work with these students again during the next summer. Students must re-apply to the program each year.
I met with a potential faculty mentor and we discussed possible research projects. Does this mean I am guaranteed a spot in the SSR program?
Your potential faculty mentor will probably be quite excited as they describe their research to you during the meeting—after all, this is their bread and butter! However, each year multiple students apply to a limited number of spots in laboratories and accommodating everyone is not always possible.