High School Intern Program Mentors

For UCSF Scientists

Mentors must be affiliated with UCSF; we welcome graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and staff to apply.

Through this program, high school students from San Francisco public and charter schools complete authentic biomedical research projects with their mentors for 8 weeks, June 7th – August 2nd, 2024, during the summer. Stipends for students and scientist mentors included!

The role of the mentor is vital to the experience of the intern.

Mentors are the day-to-day guide and teacher for the intern, and support them in all aspects of the lab experience.

As a mentor, you’ll:

  • high school intern programDevelop a research project for your intern. This may mirror your research or could be a new project (or side project) related to your work.
  • Support your intern’s learning of foundational science content, and teach them the lab skills required to complete their project.
  • Develop research goals with your intern and help them understand an authentic scientific process.
  • Work closely with your intern to understand and accommodate their learning needs.

high school intern program

Who are our interns?

They are current juniors at San Francisco public/charter schools, are excited and curious about science, and are motivated to work with a UCSF scientist.

Our interns come from backgrounds underrepresented in the sciences.

About our selection process of interns:

We aim to recruit and select students who have expressed some interest in science…even just a little. Our goal is to support students developing a sense of belonging in science and broaden their ideas about college and careers in the biomedical sciences. We don’t use grades or GPA in our selection process. We rely on application essays and interviews with students to assess their interest and motivation to participate in the program.

How to Apply

Thank you for your interest in mentoring for our High School Internship Program (HIP)! The application for Summer 2024 is now open. 

Want to learn more about our program? 

Register for an info-session and find out more about mentoring a high school student!

Want to get involved with HIP in other ways?

If you’re unable to mentor but still interested in supporting HIP in other ways, please fill out this form!


Contact: Lakisha.witzel@ucsf.edu | 415.364.8077

Frequently Asked Questions

Students selected for the High School Intern Program are current juniors (11th grade). They attend between their junior and senior year of high school, so you may see them referred to as “rising seniors”. All students in the program attend public high school in San Francisco. All students in the program are from backgrounds underrepresented in science.

We currently use race/ethnicity, disability status, and other demographic factors to determine if a student is from a background underrepresented in science. 



  • African American / Black
  • Asian: Filipino, Hmong, Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, Bhutanese and Burmese
  • Hispanic / Latinx
  • Native American / Alaskan Native
  • Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander

Disability status

Other demographic factors:

  • Gender 
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Homelessness/housing insecurity
  • Foster system involvement
  • Parent education
  • Designated Low-Income and Health Professional Shortage Areas
  • Recent Immigrant (within 5 years)

Students submit an application which includes an essay describing why they’re interested in the program and what they hope to gain from their participation. A subset of applicants are selected for an interview where our interview team is further assessing program interest, maturity and ability to persist through a challenging 8-week program. 

Additionally, we hope to offer this opportunity to students who want to explore a potential interest in science, even if this is just the beginning of that exploration.

From roughly 50 interviews, 25 students are selected to participate. 

It’s rare for us to turn away any scientist who’d like to participate and can create a meaningful learning opportunity for their intern. That being said, we may exercise caution in the following scenarios: 

  • A mentor is planning multiple weeks away from lab during the summer
  • A mentor does not yet have a project and will have difficulty coming up with an intern project
  • A mentor is looking for a lab assistant rather than creating the learning experience we are offering to our participants

Mentors serve as the day-to-day guide and teacher for the intern, and support them in all aspects of the lab experience, as well as with the preparation for their talk and final poster presentation. Our aim is to give our interns the opportunity to work on a research project, explore career options, experience a university environment, and learn from a mentor. In this role you would: 

  • Develop a research project for your intern, which aligns with your own research or the research of the lab.
  • Work closely with your intern to identify learning needs and research goals.
  • Teach the necessary background and skills so your intern can carry out an independent research project.
  • Help your intern integrate into the lab setting, personally and professionally.
  • Recruit, review applications, interview and select interns.
  • Intern/mentor matching based on interests and schedules.
  • Submit all required UCSF paperwork for minors to work in labs (Volunteer Packet, UCSF ID, EH&S Lab Safety for Minors course, HIPAA online training, required parent/guardian consent forms, etc.).
  • Lead a program orientation for interns to complete UCSF registration and practice basic lab skills.
  • Host weekly meetings with interns to support development of science communication skills. 
  • Lead the Mentoring Workshop Series: a forum designed to foster discussion, address common challenges, and share best practices for mentoring among participating mentors.
  • Provide stipends for interns.
  • Provide stipends for mentors.

We have two opportunities depending on research topics. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) funds 10 of our interns to work 30 hours per week. These interns are paid $4500 for their participation. The remaining interns work 20 hours per week and are paid $3200 for their participation. Funding for these interns comes from the NIH NINDS, UCSF Chancellor, School of Medicine and Executive Vice Chancellor, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the Baskin Family Foundation.

Yes!* We are able to offer a stipend to mentors in the following ways:

  • Mentors hosting an intern funded by CIRM, where the intern is doing research with stem cells or regenerative biology, work with their intern 30 hours/week and receive a stipend of $1000.
  • Mentors hosting interns doing any other type of research work with their intern 20 hours/week and receive a stipend of $500.

*Note that certain payroll title codes are not eligible to receive participation incentives per UCSF policy. Please inquire if you are unsure of your eligibility to receive this.

Yes! Developing science communication skills is an important part of this program. Interns develop an abstract, give a 10 minute oral presentation, and present a science poster. Throughout the summer, interns attend weekly meetings with SEP staff to learn about and practice these skills but the mentor is expected to guide the intern to ensure accuracy and understanding of their writing and/or presentations.

June 7th – August 2, 2024. The program begins with a multi-day orientation for the interns. You should plan for them to start in the lab on Tuesday, June 10th.

We are happy to strategize around this with you. Our hope is that mentors are not away for more than one week at a time since that can be disruptive for the intern and their project. Ways you can support the intern while you’re away: connect the student to another person in your lab early in the experience so they can work together; schedule meetings online to check in with your intern; guide the intern with independent work that will move their project along.

Yes! We love this model. It does mean collaborating to develop a project for your intern so typically works best when you’re in the same lab.


Definitely. Our interns often enjoy having a high school peer to work with in the lab and ideally they are doing similar projects but not the same. Each intern will still be expected to present independently for the 10-minute talk and poster session.

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