Frequently Asked Questions for SIP Mentors

The 2021 Mentor Application is now live and can be accessed here.

*Please refer to the COVID-19/Online Program FAQ page for information on the changes that have been made to the program for Summer 2021.

Being a primary SIP mentor means involving one or more high-school students (SIP interns) in your current research. The intern(s) should help you carry out a research project that you are leading and working on and need to get done soon. It should not be something you have made up just for the intern — it shouldn’t be an exercise — it needs to be an actual research project. Having said this, the focus of the intern’s portion may be adjusted slightly to best match the intern’s interests and skill set. The idea is for the experience to have mutual benefit — to the intern and to the mentor. The SIP intern benefits from the experience of being immersed in a research project and learns sophisticated research techniques, understands the broader context of her/his project within the overall scientific discipline, and, most importantly, becomes familiar with the sociology of collaborative research. The mentor’s research project is helped by the intern’s contribution.
  • The high-school interns’ work advances the mentor’s research
  • Optional mentor workshops for researchers to improve their mentoring and supervising skills
  • Partial summer stipend for mentors
  • Broadening of the societal impact of the mentor’s research
  • SIP interns commit to working at least eight weeks during the summer. Most mentors prefer that the student work full-time all summer. Mentors and interns are responsible for creating a workable schedule for both parties. A typical project begins on the first day of the program, Monday, June 21, 2021 (Sunday, June 20 is the kickoff/orientation event) and continues until Saturday, August 14, 2021 – with a possible short break or two in between. This year, we are asking that students begin working remotely on June 8, so that they have two weeks to get in contact with their mentors and complete any online trainings that may be required of them before they arrive in person to work in their assigned labs.

    For each project, the SIP intern(s) and their mentors typically tailor the exact duration and pace of the project according to their mutual convenience to work around their summer travel schedules. Interns are usually available from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday through Fridays. Some students live on campus during the summer for up to eight weeks, while others opt to commute daily. The housing and transportation logistics are handled by the SIP program administrators. One thing to consider is whether the work on the research project requires the SIP intern to be on campus the majority of the time (this may be the case for laboratory-based projects) or if some portion of the work can be conducted remotely (this may be the case for data analysis projects).

    Maybe. The official end date of the 2021 SIP program will be Saturday August 14, the final presentation day. There are at least three items that may extend beyond this date. First, some SIP interns opt to write up their research project as a paper for the nationwide Siemens science competition (due late September) and/or the Regeneron (formerly Intel) Science Talent Search (due mid November). They consult their mentors as they write their paper. Second, the results from the SIP project are often worthy of publication as a poster in a scientific conference (e.g., American Astronomical Society or American Geophysical Union meeting) and/or as a journal article. This naturally involves the SIP mentors who are typically the lead authors on these journal articles with the SIP interns and others as coauthors. Third, SIP interns who will be rising seniors during the summer typically ask their primary mentor for letters of recommendation for college.

    Yes, SIP does offer stipends to primary mentors who are graduate students, postdocs, or research staff, but not to faculty. Each research project should list only one primary mentor. The stipend amounts below are for the entire summer and is per primary mentor, independent of how many interns or projects she/he supervises. Our general framework is SIP will offer each postdoc and research staff a mentor stipend of $2,200 (in lieu of a proportional amount of vacation time) and will offer each graduate student a mentor stipend not to exceed $3,800 ($4,000 if the number of interns on the project is three or more). Depending on a graduate student’s level of GSR support from non-SIP sources (e.g., their faculty advisor’s research grant) during the SIP program dates of mid June to mid August, the actual SIP mentor stipend may be lower than $3,800 in order to comply with UCSC’s regulations. We are certain that any graduate student who will be on 0% to 50% GSR support from from mid June to mid August will be able to supplement her/his non-SIP GSR income with the full $3,800 SIP mentor stipend. A graduate student who will be on greater than 50% GSR support from non-SIP sources should contact SIP staff at ucsc-sip@ucsc.edu. We will probably need to refer your case to the divisional business office for evaluation. The final calculation of mentor stipends is very complex and we cannot answer every question here.
    Interns in lab-based research projects must be supervised at all times when they are in a lab. Mentors should please keep this in mind when thinking about the interns’ schedule. A mentor can have a colleague do the supervision, or, if she/he is not going to be in the lab on a particular day, she/he can assign the intern literature review or computer work to do elsewhere.

    It is also important for mentors to follow the Rule of 3: make sure you have either 2 adults and 1 intern or 1 adult and 2 interns to avoid isolating situations. This applies to all situations including but not limited to: supervising interns, driving, field trips, lab work, social situations, etc.