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How SPARK Works

The SPARK program provides a research experience unlike any other with some of the nation's leading scientists at the Moffitt Cancer Center. Applicants should note that participation represents a 10-week commitment. Several start dates are offered to accommodate every accepted student. Participants will be training for 40 hours per week on a research-based project. Due to the intensity of the program, applicants are prohibited from taking summer classes or maintaining employment.

Please note that the SPARK program does not provide housing or housing allowance for interns. Students are responsible for securing their own housing and transportation.

Students will have the opportunity to join labs in diverse fields, including but not limited to:

Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
Cancer Epidemiology
Drug Discovery 
Health Outcomes and Behavior
Integrated Mathematical Oncology
Machine Learning 
Metabolism and Physiology
Molecular Oncology
Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis

Applicants are encouraged to use the essay to express interest in the above fields. The committee will use that information to match every student with a mentor.

Per Moffitt Cancer Center policy, all SPARK interns will be expected to complete the clearance process including a drug screen, background check and vaccination records. The center covers the cost of the drug screen and background check. A full list of required documentation will be provided to each intern by the Human Resources department.

SPARK interns will receive a taxable stipend to cover their personal expenses. The $3,000 stipend will be distributed in two installments – the first in July and the second in August.

SPARK interns watching presentation

Science Communication and Presentation Skills Workshops

Nervous about presenting research projects in front of a crowd? SPARK can help! The SPARK program equips students with the skills necessary to prepare the interns for their big day.

During the summer, SPARK holds a weekly scientific communication workshop that teaches interns how to create presentations and the significance of each section. Through this workshop, the interns are given the opportunity to practice with their peers on a weekly basis.

Additionally, SPARK also hosts a presentation skills workshop. The communication workshop teaches interns how to build their presentations, but the presentation skills workshop teaches interns how to deliver them. The workshop addresses the flow of a successful presentation, how to drive your points to an audience, how to manage anxiety and much more.

Together these workshops give interns the confidence they need to deliver effective presentations on Research Day.

Speaker presents during Research Day

Research Day

Upon the conclusion of the summer, all SPARK interns are expected to present their projects at Research Day. Each intern is given five minutes to give an oral presentation in the presence of their mentor, co-mentors, lab members, other interns and their families. This is an opportunity to showcase everything the students have achieved and learned over the course of their internship. Since our interns come from many different backgrounds and complete research in many different fields, it increases their exposure to the possibilities of cancer research. It also allows for each student to gain valuable public speaking experience, which they may report on future resumes.

Upon conclusion of all presentations, the program hosts a reception for all attendees to enjoy.