Outreach & Diversity

Outreach & Diversity

The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences offers a number of science outreach programs in collaboration with the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines, and the Department of Biology. These programs offer hands-on activities for high school science teachers and their students, summer workshops for high school students, laboratory training and summer research opportunities for high school science teachers, summer research internships for undergraduate students from other colleges and universities, and mini-sabbaticals for faculty from minority-serving institutions.

The goal of these science outreach programs is to develop students' interests in neuroscience and cognitive science and basic research early in their education. In addition, these programs aim to help science teachers keep up with the latest developments in neuroscience and cognitive sciences, and provide opportunities for collaborations between MIT scientists and faculty at minority serving institutions with limited research faciliites.

By sharing its intellectual wealth, cutting-edge research, teaching facilities, and technical expertise, the BCS community and the MIT community at large hope to make important contributions to science education and the development of future scientists.

For more information, please contact: Mandana Sassanfar, Ph.D. Outreach Officer MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Bldg. 46-2051 617.452.4371 Email: mandana@mit.edu

Undergraduate Research Internships (Visiting Students)

2016 MIT Summer Research Program in the Neuro & Cognitive Sciences and Related Fields

Application Deadline: January 30, 2016 Apply Now

The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT offers jointly with the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines a 10-week summer research-intensive training in biological and biomedical-related fields to advanced sophomore and junior science majors from other colleges and universities. This summer internship program is funded in part by the MIT's School of Science and the National Science Foundation.

The summer program is primarily designed to encourage students from under-represented minorities, first-generation college students, and students from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds to attend graduate school and pursue a career in basic research, by providing them the opportunity to conduct supervised research in a top-notch research institution, in a supportive learning environment with plenty of interaction with graduate students and faculty. This summer program provides a unique opportunity for students who do not have access to top-notch research facilities at their own institution to conduct supervised research in state-of-the-art research facilities. Preference will be given to applicants from non-research intensive colleges and universities. Foreign students are not eligible UNLESS they are enrolled full-time at a college or university in the US on a student visa. Students studying abroad are not eligible.

Program description

Students accepted into the program receive their 10-week training in one of over 100 research laboratories affiliated with the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Department of Biology. Students conduct supervised research and receive practical training in areas such as Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Biophysics, Cancer Biology, Cell Biology, Chemical Biology, Computational Biology, Systems Biology, Developmental Biology, Human Genetics, Genetics, Genomics, Infectious Diseases, Immunology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Molecular Medicine, Human Disease, Neurosciences, Cognitive Sciences, Structural Biology, Systems Biology, or Virology. In addition students receive training in reading and discussing scientific research papers, are exposed to scientific writing, practice giving oral presentations about their summer research and meet with various faculty to discuss scientific careers.

Students accepted into the program receive:

  • Campus housing
  • A weekly stipend
  • Travel allowance to and from MIT (domestic travel only)
  • An MIT email account
  • Subsidized pass to the athletic facilities
  • Wireless internet access
  • Access to the MIT Medical Department

Students are expected to work full-time in the laboratory, to participate in weekly meetings with faculty, and to attend weekly academic seminars. The weekly seminars cover such topics as applying to graduate school, giving an oral presentation, writing a research abstract, learning about various career options available to Ph.D. graduates. These seminars are designed to help students improve their presentation skills and to be more competitive applicants. During the summer, students have several opportunities to give oral presentations on their research. At the end of the program students give a poster presentation on their research, submit a 5-page research summary, and a one-page personal statement about their summer experience at MIT. In addition students are invited to participate in weekend social activities, visit a local Biotech, and visit Boston and its vicinity. Students take a guided tour of Boston and the Freedom Trail, a one-day trip to Martha's Vineyard, and a 4th of July barbecue. Other activities may include a visit to historic Salem, a day at the beach, or a Boston Harbor cruise. All of the students in the MIT summer program live together on campus in shared suites with kitchens. This housing arrangement promotes social interactions and provide a wonderful opportunity to forge long-lasting friendships with peers in the program.

Program eligibility and application

MIT undergraduates are not eligible for this program. If you are an MIT undergrad, see the UROP Program website. Students studying abroad are not eligible. Graduate students are not eligible. Only current undergraduate students (sophomores and juniors) studying full time in the US are eligible for this summer program, NO EXCEPTIONS. Students interested in engineering and other disciplines unrelated to biology or neuroscience should apply to the general MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP).

Applicants must:

  • be full-time undergraduate students at an institution in the U.S.
  • be sophomores or juniors who have successfully completed introductory courses in the biological sciences
  • maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA in the science courses
  • have demonstrated an interest in basic research and in a career in the sciences

Applicants must apply using the online system. The application will be automatically turned off on January 30 at 5:00 PM. Late submissions will not be accepted. Therefore it is not a good idea to wait until the afternoon of January 30 to submit your application. A complete application consists of:

  • The filled application form
  • Three letters of reference from science faculty (at least one must be from a research mentor or lab supervisor. Please note that applicants must submit a letter of reference from their most recent research experience.)
  • Original college transcripts
  • A personal statement of interest and career goals
  • A list of research topics of interest

Please direct questions to msrpbio@mit.edu

High School Programs

The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences is actively involved in science outreach at the high school level.

For teachers

The goal of these outreach programs is to make science fun and exciting by bringing new hands-on activities into the classrooms, and to make teaching and learning science a more enriching and rewarding experience for both students and teachers. Science teachers from the greater Boston area are invited to:

  • Attend a 5-day summer workshop with lectures on current topics in neuro and cognitive sciences and hands-on laboratory activities.
  • Apply for a six-week summer research internship in a BCS lab at MIT
  • Bring their honors and advanced placement biology classes to MIT for faculty lectures and hands-on lab activities
  • Attend monthly faculty lectures at the Whitehead Institute during the school year
  • Become involved in science curriculum development.

Interested parties should contact Dr. Mandana Sassanfar mandana [at] mit.edu for further information.

For students

High school students interested in visiting the department should contact the faculty member they want to work with directly to inquire about opportunities.  Note that MIT prohibits the employment or internships of any minors under age 16, whether paid or unpaid.  Additional guidelines for hosting high school students can be found here.