2016 STAR Program alumni


image floated right

Applications for the 2017 STAR Program are now closed.

To be eligible for the STAR Program, you must be:

  • at least 18 years old by the start of the program;
  • will have entered at least your junior undergraduate year by the start of the program;
  • a student or alumnus of any California State University campus or a current or former member of the NSF Robert Noyce Scholarship Program;
  • a US Citizen, Permanent Resident Alien, or DACA grant holder and,
  • a pre-service aspiring STEM teacher, teacher intern, or a STAR alumnus with two or fewer years of participation in STAR and two or fewer years of full-time teaching experience.

To clarify, first time participants must be pre-service teachers, i.e., future teachers who have not yet worked as a paid, full-time teacher. STAR Alumni are encouraged to participate in up to three STAR experiences, provided they have not been teaching for more than two years. If you have already been employed as a teacher and can't apply for STAR, make sure you check out research opportunitied offered by IgnitED or any of the many Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) throughout the country.

Successful applicants will have:

  • a demonstrated interest in K-12 STEM teaching (for example tutoring experience, coursework, CSETS, CBEST, etc.);
  • a strong record of undergraduate coursework in one or more STEM fields;
  • a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7 (3.0 or higher preferred);
  • a willingness to challenge themselves and the ability to work independently on complex tasks under the guidance of a mentor;

The STAR Program office and Lab Sites work together closely to match applicant skills and interests with the wide variety of projects available. IT IS ADVANTAGEOUS TO YOU TO APPLY AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE so that Lab Sites continually review your application as new projects become available.Labs move at the speed of research and it is usually not possible to list all of the projects available in advance. Lab Site Coordinators or Research Mentors interested in you will contact you directly via email or telephone to discuss particular projects.

Program Expectations and Requirements

STAR is a competitive program and there is high level of responsibility that goes along with being a STAR Fellow. Our lab sites will expect you to work diligently with a research mentor and often tackle complex problem-solving tasks while communicating effectively with the rest of your team. If you are offered a placement at one of our lab sites, you will enter into a contract with the STAR Program as well as the lab site which may have additional requirements to those listed below. Fellows will:

  1. Participate in the entire 9-week summer research fellowship (Fellows are expected to work 40-hours per week during this period. Please check the Key Program Date Page to be certain that you can participate for the entire period. Your actual on-site arrival and departure dates must be discussed between you and your lab before you accept a placement);
  2. Make arrangements and pay for your own housing. Wherever possible, STAR and Lab Staff will advise you of affordable options other Fellows have used.
  3. Prepare and present a research product (a poster for first-time Fellows) at the lab site and at the STAR Research Conference then submit an electronic copy of their research to Cal Poly Digital Commons for public display; 
  4. Develop and submit a K12 Lesson Plan connected to their research;
  5. Participate in weekly workshops focused on STEM teaching as part of your 40-hour per week commitment;
  6. Participate in STAR events including a webinar and/or half-day regional seminar providing an orientation to STAR and discussion of the teacher-researcher identity, and the Research Conference involving research presentations, professional development opportunities, and social events;
  7. Participate in teacher-researcher community building and cohort activities (in person and online);
  8. Participate in STAR Program evaluation activities, before, during, and after the program;
  9. Must carry health insurance coverage during the entire Fellowship period.

Financial Support

Each STAR Fellow receives a stipend paid in regular intervals (see Key Dates). Available funding and the costs of living differ in each area so the amount of stipend above the base of $4,500 ($500/wk for nine weeks) differs. Summer 2017 funding levels have not yet been fixed. Stipends from 2016 are offerred below as an example. Fellows staying in a family home or not relocating received an additional $500 to offset expenses. Those relocating more than 50 miles to participate in the Program received additional support depending upon estimates of housing costs. These amounts vary from year to year as funding and actual housing costs vary.

Fellow Placement Total 2016 Stipend
No relocation necessary $5,000
Relocating to Biosphere 2, RTC, SLAC, LLNL, SNL, or SFSU $6,550
Relocating to any other STAR Partner Laboratory $6,350

The Application Process

BEFORE you start filling out your online application we strongly recommend that you carefully examine the sample PDF version linked below to help you prepare all of the information we require. Once you have all of the information you need, including your short essays in a simple text format, the online application will take 30 minutes to one hour to complete. Only online submissions will be accepted.

Essay Questions

The application requires you to complete four 250-word essays on each of the following topics: (1) Teaching, (2) Research, (3) 21st Century Skills, and (4) Participation Motivation.

Resumes and Transcripts

To complete the online application, please be prepared to upload the following documents:

  1. Transcripts – copies of your transcripts (unofficial are fine, just be sure they are legible) from any college or university in which you have enrolled in courses. You can upload up to three files (undergraduate, graduate, and credential transcripts) with a maximum size of 10 MB each in .pdf, .jpg, or .png format. It is your responsibility to make sure that the files are in the proper format and legible.
  2. Resume – If you do not have a resume, you can use the sample resume template (Word) to create one. If you already have a resume, be sure it addresses each of the items from the sample resume template. You must upload your resume in .pdf format (1 MB maximum size).

A Professional Reference

You will be asked to provide an email address for a professional reference who can speak to your interests in teaching and research. To help you select an appropriate reference, you can preview the online Reference Form as a PDF. We will send them an email asking them to submit their recommendation using our online form there is no need to send them a form. We would like to receive their recommendation prior to the application deadline, so please be sure to get his or her permission to use them as a reference well in advance. It is common courtesy to provide a minimum of two weeks notice to your referee and it can be helpful to them if you provide some information about the program you are applying for. It is not appropriate to have family members, close personal friends, or significant others provide your recommendation. Some lab site partners (e.g. MBARI) require additional references (indicated in the application) to be sent in.

The Selection Process

Following the application deadline, all STAR applications will be reviewed by a panel of readers. Once an applicant has met the minimum program qualifications, STAR will match your skills, experience, interests, and preferences with the requirements of our lab sites. STAR will then coordinate communications between you and lab sites interested in working with you. The placement process is very selective with respect to the available opportunities. Many well-qualified applicants will not be offered a placement simply because an appropriate project or funding is not available. You may be invited to one or more phone interviews or engage in email conversations with a lab site coordinator or researcher, but placement is not guaranteed until a formal offer has been made by the STAR Program Office and you accept it. You will normally have two weeks to consider an offer. Some lab sites may further require you to apply via their own particular application procedure to meet federal requirements.

Once your placement has been confirmed, you will receive two congratulatory emails, one from the STAR Program and a second from your lab site. The STAR email will contain information about program expectations, housing needs, stipend payment schedules, and your project description. The lab site email will provide details about your points of contact at the lab site, key dates, and procedures.

Final Notes

After you have completed the first section of the application you can save your progress on the application at any point, log out, and return later by using the 'Save and coninue later' link at the top of the page. We recommend bookmarking that page so you can click the link to the login page to continue your application. You can also review all parts of the application before submitting. Once you submit a reference's email, that person will receive an automated invitation to provide a recommendation. After you have completed all steps of the application, you must click the "final submit" button and you will receive an email confirmation that we have received your completed application. If you do not receive this email within 24 hours, please return to your online application and ensure that you have completed all required fields and pressed the final submission button. Please contact star@calpoly.edu in the unlikely event that you have further submission difficulties.

Download the 2017 Application in PDF format as a Sample to help you prepare.
Download the 2016 PDF Letter of Recommendation to help you decide on a reference (we send them the link to the survey).
Download a Word template to help you build your resume'.