Summer Research Opportunities
The online application for the 2024 SIREN and NURO programs is now LIVE and the application deadline is January 15, 2024.
Neuroscience Graduate Program offers three different summer research opportunities. Each of the summer programs are 10 weeks and provide participants with a full time (40 hr/week) research placement, professional development workshops, and social events. A brief summary is provided below:
NURO is designed for students who have completed at least one year of undergraduate education and are looking to gain research experience in a neuroscience laboratory. Program details can be found here.
NURO is supported through a R25 research grant through the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Strokes (NINDS), National Institute of Health and the Neuroscience Graduate Program
SIREN seeks to expand neuroscience research opportunities to diverse groups of undergraduates, who are considering long-term research careers. Here, you'll find cutting-edge research in a supportive environment, a strong community of friends, and a special emphasis on communication skill building. Program details can be found here.
SIREN is funded by an award from the National Science Foundation, Division of Biological Sciences.
This opportunity is designed for a University of Michigan undergraduate student who is a first generation college student.
Additional details will be provided soon.
For other University of Michigan Summer Research Opportunities see here
SIREN-NURO Frequently Asked Questions
General program information
What are the distinctions between SIREN and NURO?
While NURO specifically selects students from populations underrepresented in the sciences, SIREN seeks underrepresented students as well as allies from well-represented groups.
While NURO selects students with or without prior research training, SIREN specifically seeks students with limited research experience or those with limited access to neuroscience research.
How competitive are these programs?
Typically, we receive 200-400 applications for 20 total spots.
What is the application, review, and onboarding sequence?
While the exact dates change each year, the general sequence includes:
Dec-Jan: Application window
Jan-Feb: Admissions committee review.
Mar-Apr: Offers made and mentors are matched with selected applicants.
May: Mentors and mentees complete the Mentoring Agreement forms and meet virtually.
Late May: Online training and pre-boarding virtual meetings.
What financial support is provided?
Stipends (>$6,000 per summer), housing, and travel funds are provided. A modest food allowance is also provided along with numerous meals at workshops and social events.
What types of professional development activities are scheduled? Are these required?
Each week, there are 2 or 3 professional development events. All are required. NURO and SIREN combine for some. Topics focus on personal growth, academic skills, and career development. Some workshop topics include:
Personal Narratives and Mission Statements
Social Identities and Imposter Syndrome
Critical Analysis and Journal Clubs
Methods in Neuroscience and Ethics, Rigor, and Reproducibility
Effective Scientific Presentations
Meet the Scientist Sessions
Preparing for Graduate School
Preparing a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program application
In addition to these, participants meet each week for Applied Improvisation training and science communication practice.
What types of social activities are scheduled?
Past group events include picnics, movie and game nights, trips to Detroit, connections with NGP Community Groups for soccer or hiking, and group attendance at various Ann Arbor summer festivals. Weekly emails highlight numerous other opportunities around town.
What is Applied Improvisation training like? Do I have to participate?
Applied improvisation is the use of theatrical improvisation tools to practice and explore concepts relevant to science communication and collaboration. Weekly sessions are led by improv professionals connected to the NGP, who will lead several games around a central theme each week. All attendees must participate. Though participants can approach with some fear and trepidation, all eventually point to this activity as a highlight of the summer and a valuable series for building their communication skills.
Is there any flexibility in the program dates? My school ends after the program start, or starts before the program ends.
No. You must be available for the full program duration, start to finish. We are unable to shift start/end dates or alter the program sequence in any way.
Can I be excused for a week or several days during the program for vacation, etc?
No. All vacations should be taken before program start or after program end. You will not be excused from the program for vacation days, even if the mentor laboratory okays your absence.
Can I work another job or take classes at UM or through my home institution during the program?
No. You are not allowed to moonlight, work another job, or take classes during the program.
What accommodations are in place for those with physical or learning disabilities?
We adhere to ADA requirements and will accommodate physical and/or learning disabilities according to UM policy. Determination of appropriate accommodations will be made in association with the UM ADA coordinator and the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities. Declaration of need for accommodations should be made after accepting the offer of admission, at least 2 weeks prior to program start. Interpreter services will be provided for deaf and hard of hearing students during large social gatherings, large professional development events, and the final symposium.
Where will I live while at the University of Michigan?
On-campus housing is provided for the full ten week program. Housing may be in dorm-style residences or apartment-style units. Accommodations vary in size but are furnished. Special needs can be accommodated upon notification. Shared or within-unit kitchens are available.
Will I have a roommate?
Yes. Housing arrangements typically include 2 or more occupants from our programs, depending on room availability and any policy restrictions as in the case of pandemic outbreaks. We collect some general information about preferences after program acceptance to make these arrangements.
What kind of academic background is required?
Successful applicants typically have a strong background in STEM fields relevant to neuroscience. While formal neuroscience coursework is a plus, this is not required. Reviewers will look to your personal statements to understand your motives to pursue research in this area.
Is there a minimum GPA requirement?
There is no minimum GPA requirement. You may wish to explain poor performance or particularly challenging coursework, but this is not required.
What are the eligibility requirements?
Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents, must have completed one year toward an undergraduate degree by program start date, and must be available for the duration of the summer program, start to finish. Applicants cannot be current University of Michigan-Ann Arbor students and must not receive their bachelor’s degree prior to program start.
What are you looking for in the personal and research statements?
Overall, reviewers want to get a sense of who you are, why you are interested in a long-term research career, why you are interested in neuroscience particularly, and what skills and experiences make you a successful participant. Both statements should follow an essay format.
Research statement: highlight your motivation to pursue research, your past research experiences, and how those experiences have shaped your understanding and goals. When describing your past research experiences, note the context, significance and hypothesis, not just a list of lab skills. If you do not have research experience in a lab, speak to your motivation and consider describing meaningful experiences in lab courses.
Personal statement: What experiences and/or challenges have influenced your personal and academic growth? How do these align with your long-term goal of a research career? Consider how you might describe yourself in 5-6 adjectives and then make sure your personal statement conveys those attributes. How would these attributes contribute to a research setting and fit in our programs specifically?
What are you looking for in the recommendation letters?
We want two references, ideally from professors or mentors, with at least one from your home institution. References should be able to provide some insight into what type of student you are and what potential you have for a long-term research career.
Do some application factors weigh more heavily than others?
Our review is holistic. We take into account applicant experiences, qualities, identities, and academic performance. We also consider how the applicant will contribute to the program, social community, and learning environment.
How are students evaluated, ranked, and chosen?
Every application is thoroughly evaluated and scored by a selection committee using a holistic review process. Applicants are ranked by average score, however offers are extended based on many factors. In addition to high scores during review, program directors seek to create cohorts from diverse social demographics, research interests, and geographical locations.
What qualities are reviewers looking for in program applicants?
Reviewers evaluate applicants based on their motivation to pursue a long-term research career in neuroscience, preparation for engaging in all aspects of the summer program, evidence of support for our diversity goals, and desire to develop communication skills.
Will I be contacted about admissions decisions?
Yes. We will notify all students of the outcome. If you are facing deadlines from other programs and SIREN-NURO remains at the top of your interest list, please reach out to directors.
Who are the potential research mentors?
The NGP includes over 120 faculty across many departments and subdisciplines. Participation as potential research mentors depends on travel plans, space, commitment to other programs and students, and funding for the project. Typically, we identify 40 potential mentors each summer, but the composition changes each year.
Should I contact potential mentors on my own?
No. This can lead to considerable confusion. You are welcome to indicate specific NGP faculty in your application, but we are unable to provide a list of mentors for a given summer or a mechanism for you to select your mentor. Reach out to program directors if there are established collaborations between NGP faculty and mentors in your home department.
What is the mentor selection process?
Once faculty mentors are identified and program participants are selected, the program directors make tentative matches based on student interests, research topics, and methodologies. Mentors are given your application and acknowledge a good fit. Then, each of you completes a Mentoring Agreement: mentors note lab policy, training requirements, and project milestones while mentees describe learning styles, mentoring goals, and work preferences. Switches are rarely requested but are allowed if other laboratories are available.
What training will I need to complete?
Before the program starts, students complete online training courses on research integrity, laboratory safety, and other lab-specific modules. Mentors will also discuss project details and provide background readings.