UCSB Research Mentorship Program (RMP)
For six weeks next June, you could be knee-deep in the waters of the Pacific investigating the sexual selection behavior of tiny crustaceans called ostracods in the University of Santa Barbara, UCSB Research Mentorship Program (RMP)
This program provides the opportunity to participate in active research under the mentorships of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) faculty, postdoc students, and advanced graduate students.
Each UCSB mentor will oversee around 77 students selected for the program in interdisciplinary projects that often get published in scientific journals. The 18 academic disciplines ranging from Earth Sciences, Engineering, Psychology, Music, Statistics, Marine Biology, Statistics, etc. Students earn a total of 8 university credits by enrolling in two interdisciplinary research courses that are listed in the section below.
“It means that we’re not only sticking to one field,” said Vivian Yang, a junior at Mira Loma High School in Sacramento who researched the effects of climate on vector dynamics and Lyme disease incidence in California. “We’re working with different fields and connecting those ties.”
This year the program will be held virtually from June 21st – August 1st, offering a robust academic curriculum, adapting existing program components, such as GRIT talks and workshops, and developing new social activities to successfully deliver them in this virtual setting. More information will be shared with participants as details are developed.
But depending on how COVID-19 progresses, by this time next year, you could be preparing for the chance to research in the heart of one of California’s most beautiful coastal cities, Santa Barbara.
Research Mentorship Program Courses
Exploratory Course – Presentation Techniques
Students engage in hands-on research with a research mentor of their choice during six intensive weeks. Depending on the nature of the project, research hours may range from 30 to 40 hours a week, occasionally working into the night when necessary. Library and fieldwork are parts of this experience. The course focuses on oral presentation methods, poster presentation structure, elevator pitch techniques. Students will be exposed to a variety of research projects focusing on inter-discipline by way of evening lectures given by UCSB researchers or individuals who are seminal leaders in their fields.
Lecture Course – Introduction to Research
Students attend lectures to receive an introduction to university-level interdisciplinary research writing techniques for students working in research projects this summer. Students will learn to construct an abstract, introduction, research goals and methods, discussion and results, and reference style techniques. Students experience hands-on guided research in the field, laboratories and/or libraries for all disciplines. This diversity exposes mature high school students to the nature of research across multiple disciplines in a form that highlights similarities and differences.
All applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Be a high school student in the 10th or 11th grade*
- Have a minimum 3.8 GPA weighted in UC a–g requirements
- Completed a minimum of 12 academic semester courses (or the equivalent in UC a–g requirements)
- Must attend the program in its entirety
- Outstanding 9th graders considered and only accepted on a case-by-case basis.
Application Requirements Checklist
To apply to the UCSB Research Mentorship Program you must fill out an online application that includes the following:
- Personal Statement – A 500-word maximum essay which discusses your goals, values and reasons for wanting to attend the program.
- Writing Sample – Submit a writing sample from the current academic year. You may submit up to 3 pages of a science report, history paper, or English paper.
- Two Recommenders – Be ready to provide the names and email addresses of two recommenders (teacher/counselor). We will contact them for recommendations as soon as your application has been submitted.
- AP Scores – If you have taken AP exams, you can upload a copy of your official scores. You may scan or download/print your scores from the College Board or other official institution.
- Proof of Insurance – You will be asked to upload a copy of your health insurance card.
- Official transcript: Your high school transcript must include your final Fall 2019 grades. It must be submitted directly to RMP from a school official via
Mail: Office of Summer Sessions
Research Mentorship Program
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-2010
(Optional) For students applying for scholarships: Submitted directly to RMP from student
Pre-College scholarship application – You can request this form in the online application.
Your parents’ 2020 Federal Tax returns (e.g., 1040, 1040EZ).
Your parents’ 2020 W2 forms (if applicable).
There are many ways to get acquainted with UCSB researchers as you consider applying to the summer UCSB Research Mentorship program, and what a mentor might look like at UCSB.
UCSB summer seminar researchers offer a virtual series through the University of California Television called, “Ground-breaking Research/Innovative Technology,” also known as GRIT Talks.
This Ted Talk-style TV show provides a platform for researchers to give a close up look at innovative research happening at UCSB.
Here are some examples of possible UCSB researchers who could serve as your future RMP mentor:
The climate change Problem solver: Alison Bulter, and a GRIT talk on “Elements of the High Seas: A Tale of Two Metals and their Impact on Life,” and how metals are vital to life functions. We have iron zinc and copper in us – but in the ocean is different. Organisms evolve against the chemical constraints of their environments and Allison Butler looks at what kind of metalloenzymes are present in marine organisms.
The energy problem solver: Ram Seshadri with a GRIT talk on how energy efficiency can be as important to our future as renewable energy. LED lights are extremely efficient. In this talk, he explores how white light emission from an LED lamp works and how researchers think about materials to understand their uses.
The political system problem solver: Sara Anderson with a GRIT talk on why legislators don’t compromise and what to do about it. Overcoming gridlock to achieve solutions to society’s pressing problems usually requires compromise but around a quarter of legislators reject compromise proposals if they perceive that their voters – especially their primary voters – are likely to punish them for compromising. But political scientist Sara Anderson shows that only a small slice of primary voters who oppose a particular policy really do punish compromise. Solutions that insulate legislators from the small groups of legislators who punish for compromise may allow legislators to more easily support a beneficial compromise.
The economist problem solver: Ignacio Esponda with a GRIT talk on how rational choice theory states that individuals have coherent preferences over alternatives but this theory is being replaced by a new view rooted in psychology. Esponda gives examples of economic experiments and contingent thinking.
What are the benefits of attending UCSB RMP?
Lina Kim, is a director at UCSB RMP and the sibling program Science & Engineering Research Academy (SERA) and has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.
“The high school students selected to learn to write papers and communicate their findings, and the network,” Kim said, in addition to learning the nuts and bolts of research and experimentation.
At the start of the program, the mentors pitch their own research to RMP participants and let the students select which project they want to take on. It is designed to include high school students who participated from the start, and allow them to have a say in each phase of the research design process.
Sonia Fernandez writes that the programs aim to inspire students with presentations of ongoing UCSB research and to give the students a chance to sample the researcher’s life before college.
The six-week research mentorship program offers a deeper dive into the researcher’s daily life. For students who are looking for hands-on research experience outside the classroom this is the program opportunity for you.
Under Kim’s direction, the 24-year-old UCSB Research Mentorship Program has become more focused on real-world research and interaction at the university level, with projects and relationships that are directly working with the top-thinkers in the academic community.
Mentors actively conduct research and train their students on current techniques and data collection with state-of-the-art equipment that most Ivy League Universities would like to see as a skill set on your application.
The effort has produced full-fledged, student-authored original research, which has appeared in scientific journals, and which has assisted the small select few in their college admissions success.
“I thought it would be cool to learn a lot about something completely new,” said high school senior-to-be Roxy Jackson-Gain, whose research focuses on oxide films grown by molecular beam epitaxy.
With strengths in chemistry, Jackson-Gain elected to push beyond her comfort zone this summer with a topic that also incorporates physics and has real-world impacts in the design and fabrication of tomorrow’s power electronics.
Meanwhile, Jason Goodman and Tobie Jessup are getting a crash course in collaboration as they investigate related but separate aspects of the intricate sexual selection behavior of tiny crustaceans called ostracods. Goodman studies video of the mating behavior of these “seed shrimp” and performs data analysis, while Jessup focuses on the genetic basis of these behaviors. Together they hope to shed light on behaviors that various ostracod species exhibit in their complex mating displays.
“Researchers have learned the differences in where and how ostracods perform these bioluminescent displays but no one has studied their genetic basis, so we’re seeing if these small genetic variations can result in very different complex traits as a mating display,” Jessup explained.
Not every RMP or SERA participant’s work immediately results in a paper, but all the students come away with a significant summer experience, and perhaps even inspiration they can carry into their futures.
Such was the case for SERA student Brenda Zhao, who admitted that she “wasn’t necessarily determined to pursue a career in engineering or science.”
But a visit to Apeel Sciences, a startup spun off from the UCSB Department of Chemical Engineering, opened her eyes to the vast potential of a career in science or engineering.
“You can take engineering in so many creative and fascinating ways and I feel like I know what I want to do now,” she said. “I’ve never been more inspired in my life.”
In 2018, thirteen alums from the program became a freshman at the University of Stanford. This shows the power of a good UCSB mentor to help understand how to get into Ivy League universities like Stanford, and MIT.
Admission Process & Decision
Phase 1 (now through May next year): Students work on the online application.
Phase 2: Students submit supporting application materials via email or US mail by deadline in June 2021.
Phase 3: Applicants are notified via email when the application (including all required materials) is complete.
Phase 4: Completed applications move on to the review stage.
Phase 5: Applicants will receive their admission decision approximately three to four weeks after receiving their completion email.
Phase 6: Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis and communicated via email directly to the applicant.
The 2021 Expected Program Fees
$95 Application Fee (non-refundable)
$4,500 Tuition and program fees
A limited number of full and partial scholarships are available and are awarded based on financial need, academic merit, and availability. Out-of-state and international applicants are eligible for scholarships; however, priority is given to California residents.
For more information about the program or to inquire about the application process, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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