Undergraduate Research Program
The PRISM Undergraduate Research Program (URP) offers selected students in science and math majors the opportunity to engage in the process of research while completing their degree as part of our Undergraduate Research Program. The Program provides a community where you can develop into a scientist.
Conducting research teaches you how to gather and analyze information on a topic, ask answerable questions, and discover paths to solving problems – tools that everyone can use. All of these skills are as important in your everyday life as they are in scientific and academic settings. Concomitantly, graduate and medical schools as well as employers expect these incoming students to possess such skills. Regardless of the direction your career takes, building your skills in analysis and problem-solving will help you in every aspect of your life.
Early in the program, you will attend a research training workshop to better prepare you to join a lab. After the training, you write a proposal with your mentor(s) describing your research questions, the methods you will use, and your hypothesis before beginning your project. With your faculty mentor(s), you receive instruction on literature searches, project design, implementation, experimental sampling, data analysis, and scientific writing/presentation.
Our PRISM mentors work in a variety of research areas – from biochemistry, environmental science, and forensic science to molecular biology and toxicology. For a full list of mentors and their research areas, visit the Faculty Mentors page. You do not have to be part of the PRISM Undergraduate Research Program to join a lab.
Participation in the PRISM Undergraduate Research Program is open to all science and math students at John Jay College. The application process is competitive, and we regularly receive more applications than we can accommodate. In order to apply to our Program, you must have:
- Officially declared your major as either forensic science (FOS), cell & molecular biology (CMB), toxicology (TOX), computer science (CSIS), or Applied Mathematics.
- Earned a minimum GPA of 2.5 (FOS, CMB & TOX majors) or 3.0 (CSIS majors).
- Successfully completed (or be on your way to completing) your first-year introductory coursework (modern biology and general chemistry for FOS, CMB & TOX majors), object-oriented computing (CSIS majors), and MAT 253 and MAT 265 (applied math majors).
- Identify one or two prospective labs to join, and discussed your plans with your prospective faculty mentor(s).
Candidates are evaluated on their academic performance, career goals, and preparation to become an undergraduate researcher. Students at John Jay or at one of our partnering colleges may apply as early as their freshman year to begin in the summer before their sophomore year. Preference, however, is given to students completing their sophomore year.
Once successfully enrolled in the Program, you are required to:
- Maintain a GPA of 2.5 in the major courses.
- Develop a research proposal with your mentor(s) during the first semester of training, and submit an annual research progress report at the end of every academic year.
- Arrange and attend regular meetings with your mentor(s) and our program coordinators.
- Develop a schedule with your mentor(s), and complete >100 hours of research each semester.
- Attend monthly meetings, workshops, training, and other events throughout the year.
- Present a research poster about your work at the PRISM Symposium at the end of each academic year.
All students, regardless of citizenship status, are welcome to apply and participate in our programs. Because our programs are externally funded via federal and/or state grants, we can only provide stipends and other financial support to US Citizens and permanent residents.
The application process for the Undergraduate Research Program is competitive and we normally receive more applications than we can accommodate. Below is a timeline of the application process:
- Spring term: Identify Faculty Mentors whose research topics/projects are of interest to you. Contact them to discuss joining their lab groups.
- March/April: Fill out the PRISM URP Application, and indicate the Faculty Mentor(s) you are considering joining.
- May: If selected, you will be invited to interview with a member of our Program Staff.
- Late May/Early June: If accepted, you will be invited to join the program. You can begin either in the summer or the fall, depending on your academic plans and in consultation with your Faculty Mentor.
For more information, please contact Dr. Edgardo Sanabria-Valentin, PRISM Associate Director.