The iResearch Institute 2021 application process opens on Nov. 23, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the end goal of the components of the iResearch Institute program?

The students will complete coursework in research methods and data science with a crash course in statistics. Students will use these skills to complete research projects under the guidance of mentors and review basic computer programming needed for data analysis. Using the coursework along with guidance directly from Dr. McCalla and the mentors, students will design and complete a research project. Assignments and expert training will support final presentations of research along with a research paper at the conclusion of the iRI program. Students are encouraged to submit their projects to science fairs and competitions including Regeneron ISEF and Regeneron STS.

What does the schedule of a typical day look like?

We will send a finalized schedule prior to the program start, but below is a sample of what a typical day could look like at iResearch Institute involving lessons, concept review and project development at office hours, and independent classwork time. Students are not required to attend each office hours session in full, but they are expected to take advantage of Dr. McCalla's and mentors' office hours sessions as they see fit to develop a successful research project.

Boot Camp Coursework

12-1 PM EDT: Research Methods Lesson
  • Scientific method
  • Scientific writing
  • Clarifying a research topic of Interest
  • Abstract & paper writing
  • Presentation skills
1-2 PM EDT: Project Discussions/Research Methods office hours (flexible and as needed)
Students will meet with Dr. McCalla to ask related Research Methods coursework questions and mentors to discuss fundamentals of research project development in small group settings
2-3 PM EDT: Data Science/Bioinformatics coursework
  • Introduction to the various data types and data properties
    biomedical challenges with big data (high-throughput technologies, NGS, etc.)
  • Exploratory data analysis, data summary, and effective visualization
  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and
  • Estimating model accuracy and validation (computational and biological)

Project Discussion

3-5 PM EDT*: Mentor Discussion Sessions
*additional hours as needed by appointment
  • Students will meet with their mentors to discuss and develop their project progress
  • Scientific writing
  • Clarifying the research topic of Interest
  • Abstract & paper writing
  • Presentation skills
5-6 PM EDT: Office Hours for Data Science Coursework (flexible timing)
Students will meet with mentors to discuss:
  • Data analysis assistance (data sets and graphical analysis)
  • Literature review
  • Review of benchmarks
6-8 PM EDT: Classwork & studying (lab group collaborations and communication)
  • Review of literature
  • Review of essential question (EQ's) reports
  • Homework assignments associated with coursework
  • Presentation creation and practice
  • Editing of abstract and research papers

Are there scholarships/financial aid available?

Yes, we provide generous financial aid and scholarship opportunities to anyone who qualifies. We want to work with the best talent and ambition at iResearch Institute this summer, and we ensure that financial barriers will not be an obstacle for our students.

I already have a project/project idea—how will this program benefit me?

iResearch Institute will provide students with the support and expertise to conduct a comprehensive and successful research project this summer. This program will provide students with a structured schedule to conduct their research with instructor and mentor guidance as well as an abundance of opportunities to socialize with fellow students who love STEM. Our mentors will work to the best of their abilities to support and continue with students' existing project ideas. Note: Students may find that there may not be data available to continue their current projects online. They definitely can and are encouraged to do so if it's possible, but the availability of appropriate big data on the internet is a potential limitation.

Will there be tests/assessments for the academic components of the program?

Yes, students will have multiple opportunities to assess and reflect upon their performance throughout the summer to ensure that they are working to their potential. The benchmarks expected to be completed by all participants involve the completion of Essential Question (EQ’s) reports, coursework related assessments/homework, research presentation, and research paper. All of our assessments are formatted specifically for the online version of our institute!

Will students be paired up with university professors for the current/continuation of the research?

Students will not be paired with university professors for the continuation of their research, they will be paired with university-aged mentors who will guide them through their research journey this summer. The research project should be completed at the end of week 4 of the iResearch Institute program.

Can students submit their projects to science competitions (e.g. Regeneron ISEF, Regeneron STS) or for journal article publication?

Yes, we encourage all students to create and own a project this summer that they are proud of and is of the quality to submit to prestigious science competitions and for publication.
Dr. McCalla and our mentors are incredibly experienced at preparing for and competing at the largest science fairs in the world, and we will make sure you are in great hands to succeed.

Will students have a choice in picking a research project? Do you have a list of sample projects?

Students will create the research project with the assistance of a research mentor in the discipline of their choice. We will share examples of previous research works as a template for success. To provide insight into the iRI program, titles of both previous iResearch Institute student and mentor projects are below:
1. Pyrene Toxicity Resistance: Caenorhabditis elegans Mutants’ Enhanced Longevity and Reduced Lethality
2. Mitigation of TiO₂  stress and characterization of a putative Brassinosteroid Insensitive-1 gene in Brassica rapa
3. Hyperactive mtROS Production within the RAC1 Signaling Pathway in the presence of CoCl2 treated C. elegans
4. Identification and Characterization of the DELLA protein in L. minor
5. Influence of salt stress in pharmaceutical and pesticide phytoremediation selectivity using Oryza sativa
6. Multifunctional NGF-Au-SPIOl Nanoparticles: Magnetically Directing Neurite Extension and Orientation
7. High-resolution near-field nanoscopy simulation platform for custom nanomaterial designs
8. Paper-based microbial fuel cells for self-powered sustainable disease monitoring

How many students will be assigned to a mentor?

The maximum mentee to mentor ratio is 10:1; most mentors will work with fewer students based upon specificity of topic interests (mentors will only work with students in applicable fields of science).

Will there be any team activities? If Yes, what are they and how many students will be in each team?

Yes, we will host virtual group laboratory meetings and social activities weekly to ensure bonding between our students as well as between our students and mentors/Dr. McCalla. We're designing our program with your well-being in mind! Team activities and laboratory meetings will include a review of research topics, collaboration about project goals and data analyses, and presentation practices, social events are TBA (let us know if you have any ideas!). The number of students in a group will be determined by the number of students working with a given group of mentors in a similar field of science.

Will the teaching sessions be recorded and available in case students would like to revise/review some difficult concepts?

All teaching sessions will be recorded and will be available throughout the 4-week period. Students should attend office hours to review difficult concepts, as needed.

Still have questions? Email us or fill out the contact form below, we look forward to hearing from you!

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