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Learn more about the SPARK program in these frequently asked questions.


  • How long does the program run?

    The program runs for 10 weeks during the summer, from May to August. SPARK offers several start dates to accommodate students from different universities across the country. Because the program expects a commitment of 40 hours per week, summer classes or employment are prohibited.

  • Is there a stipend?

    Yes. The stipend totals $3,000 and is distributed in two parts. The first half is distributed in July and the second is dispersed upon conclusion of the program in August.


  • Is there a dress code?

    Business casual or research laboratory standard when applicable. We are committed to fostering a positive image appropriate for a healthcare and research institute environment, conveying confidence and respect for the center and maintaining the health and safety of patients, visitors, faculty and staff.  All employees and members of the workforce will dress in a manner that is appropriate for their position and work performed.

  • Does the SPARK program assign mentors?

    Yes. The committee reviews each student’s application for their interests and tries to match them the best we can. Therefore, it is important to explain your interests in detail and any potential mentors with who you would like to work within the application. Once you have been assigned a mentor, you will work together to create a project for the internship.

  • Do interns have to undergo lab safety training?

    If the intern will be working in a wet lab setting, they are required to complete lab safety training.

  • How involved does the intern get with the lab?

    Interns are expected to attend scheduled lab meetings. In addition, interns are invited to attend any campus-wide event or seminar. The department of Research Education and Training also puts on social events for the interns to get to know the other undergraduate trainees who are also training at the cancer center.

  • What type of training will I complete?

    SPARK interns come from many different backgrounds, so the amount of training necessary will vary. Every intern will have the opportunity to gain familiarity with standard methodologies and research techniques in a safe environment. They will learn about available core resources necessary for their individual projects. This can include but is not limited to the medical library; flow cytometry; molecular biology pathology and molecular imaging; functional genomics; and biostatistics.

  • What will my summer as a SPARK intern look like?

    All interns will acquire their project data through experimentation, computation, surveys, or other means and learn to document them in an appropriate format. Students will review and discuss the implications of their data with their mentors, draw conclusions and make new plans for further experimentation.

    SPARK aims to teach interns to become effective student researchers and utilize these skills to progress in their future careers. Additionally, interns will have the opportunity to take part in several workshops to enhance their professional and social development. Upon conclusion of the program, the SPARK interns will present their summer research at Research Day to an audience of their peers, lab team and external guests.