The primary goal of the Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy at City of Hope is to provide young people (high school and university students) with an opportunity for a "hands-on" research experience. This program seeks to find students possessing exceptional potential to perform biomedical research.
Summer students design and work on their own research projects in areas of their specific interests. City of Hope faculty members act as mentors who provide valuable guidance and support while simultaneously encouraging independent thought and exploration. Summer students work closely with postdoctorates, graduate students and lab personnel of the Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences
. Program participants also communicate their research findings to their peers and instructors in a weekly student seminar series. We also mentor scientific writing by having students produce a written report at the end of their project. An important objective of the program is to develop vital oral and written communication skills, which are so important in the world of seminars, colloquia, manuscript publication and grant writing that is critical to graduate student and postgraduate life.
Along with attending their laboratory weekly meeting, students attend the program weekly meetings and seminars. Faculty speakers educate students on various scientific topics such as neural stem cells, plant signaling pathways and DNA repair, as well as career-focused discussions regarding future directions as scientists and doctors. Some students give an oral presentation on their research project focusing on the objectives and significance of their project, methods, results, conclusions and projections for future directions of the project. Student presenters describe their research in an organized presentation and the students attending the meeting are further educated on the various research topics conducted at City of Hope.
The summer student academy hosts an annual poster session to provide the students with the opportunity to display their research project. This year, 62 students presented posters highlighting their experimental accomplishments. The poster session further facilitates the students’ learning and networking skills as they discuss their research results with various faculty members, medical doctors, lab members, and the surrounding community. Through this experience, students realize the contributions they are making to the growing knowledge of science through research. Reflecting on the poster session, one student wrote, “Knowing I had something tangible to work towards was not only motivating, but enhanced my sense of personal accomplishment.”
Every year, we encourage summer student academy alumni to present at the annual Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research. This allows their research to reach a broader audience, and provides another opportunity for students to practice communicating their findings to an audience. These students join others in presenting research in the disciplines of science, social science and engineering, and humanities.
In order to foster a community atmosphere among the summer academy students, a number of social activities were offered including the following:
- BBQ Petribowl: This social activity was a tournament-style event, consisting of team competitions. Students carried stacks of petri dishes to the finish line, balanced beakers of water on their heads, or tossed the most pipette tips into a bucket. Winning teams were awarded prizes and bragging rights.
- Movie Night: Students got together to watch a couple of movies and feast on candy, popcorn and chips.
- Summer Academy Banquet: Students hosted a semi-formal dinner complete with games, prizes, karaoke.