The NeuroLab program provides high school students with a rare glimpse into the daily practice of science and affords them a unique opportunity to experience how biomedical research is conducted in real-world scientific settings. The program unfolds within an extremely nurturing but intellectually challenging environment that requires a full commitment on the part of each student. As part of this commitment, prospective applicants are expected to extensively review each section of this web page and to discuss their intent to apply with a parent or legal guardian before submitting an online application for consideration by our review committee. NeuroLab employs a comprehensive application process to ensure that only the most motivated and dedicated students are selected to participate as collaborative team members in this exciting, rewarding, and unique research experience. If you have any questions or concerns – or encounter any technical difficulties as you prepare your application – please feel free to communicate directly with our Project Leaders using the information contained on the Contact page of this website.
Residential Research Institutes
General Information. The NeuroLab program begins with 10-day residential research institutes hosted at Coastal Marine Biolabs (CMB) in Ventura Harbor, CA. During these fast-paced and intensely focused experiences, students participate in engaging and interactive discussions with CMB scientists and visiting researchers, who draw upon their collective expertise to lay the conceptual foundation for the authentic, hands-on neuroscience research that students conduct in CMB’s biosciences laboratory. This research involves the use of cutting-edge laboratory methods, visualization tools, and web-based technologies that students learn and apply under the careful supervision of our scientific team. The concepts and methods introduced to students during the NeuroLab experience form an integral part of an authentic scientific workflow that culminates in the generation of professional quality data that they can share with the broader neuroscience community through innovative, web-based data sharing platforms. Click here for a list of available program dates.
Admission and Eligibility Requirements. Admission to the NeuroLab program is competitive and currently limited to 11th and 12th grade high school students (rising juniors are also eligible to apply). A maximum of 10 students will be accepted for enrollment in each residential research institute. The selection of applicants is based on a variety of criteria, including evidence of leadership, a demonstrated commitment to community service, extracurricular involvement, academic performance, prior coursework, a thoughtfully constructed and well-developed essay, and strong letters of recommendation. For each program session, our admissions committee selects a diverse group of applicants who possess complementary academic backgrounds, talents, interests, skills, and dispositions. During the selection process, special emphasis is placed on identifying and recruiting first-generation college-bound students, as well as those from groups that are historically underrepresented in the sciences (e.g. African-American, Hispanic, Native Pacific Islander, or Native American students).
Laboratory Safety Training. Ensuring student safety is of the utmost importance to CMB faculty and staff. As a condition of participation in the NeuroLab program, all accepted applicants are required to complete three online Lab Safety Training courses offered free of charge through the Lab Safety Workspace website. Please be advised that the courses must be completed at least one week prior the scheduled start date of your NeuroLab experience. Students are also required to provide a signed copy of a Student Laboratory Safety Agreement, which may be submitted to CMB at any time before the scheduled start date of your residential research institute. This agreement sets forth the basic guidelines for laboratory safety and constitutes an integral part of each student’s laboratory safety training at CMB.
Collaborative Presentation s. Students enrolled in the NeuroLab Program are expected to collaborate on the design of a multimedia presentation to inform the public about the significance of their work and its societal implications. A significant portion of each day is set-aside for student researchers to discuss, develop, and represent their ideas using various forms of interactive media. On the final night of each residential research institute, students deliver their presentation during a public mini-symposium hosted at the Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center of Channel Islands National Park. Student presentations form part of larger public engagement events that include engaging and informative lectures from prominent research scientists.
Study Materials. Selected applicants receive an acceptance letter and an enrollment packet that contains additional forms that must be submitted to secure enrollment in the program. Approximately one month prior to the start date of each residential research institute, CMB provides all formally enrolled students with access to a digital library of study materials. Students are expected to conscientiously review these materials before the start of their NeuroLab experience. In addition to preparing you for your scientific work, this material will help you begin formulating ideas for the collaborative presentation that you and your colleagues will deliver on the last night of your residential research institute.
Tuition. Accepted applicants receive a full tuition waiver that covers program costs, including meals and lodging accommodations.
Accommodations and Meals. Housing for NeuroLab students are provided through a cooperative agreement between CMB and Holiday Inn Express, Ventura. Conveniently located in Ventura Harbor, the hotel is located within a short walking distance from the CMB laboratory along a scenic promenade. Male and female students share separate suites for the duration of their residential research experience. A Teaching Assistant provides on-site supervision during evening hours to address student needs and ensure compliance with CMB’s room policies and curfews. CMB offers students a limited menu plan from four participating harbor restaurants, each of which can accommodate students with specific dietary restrictions.
University Research Internships
Students who participate in residential research institutes at the CMB lab are eligible to apply for non-paid research internships hosted by our network of institutional partners. Internships extend the NeuroLab experience into a university research setting, where students can expand their scientific knowledge and professional skills, participate in ongoing biomedical research projects, and gain valuable career insights through their daily interactions with research scientists.
During the selection process, each student is matched with a host faculty member, who will monitor his/her progress throughout the duration of the internship experience. Faculty members will often select a Ph.D. candidate and/or postdoctoral fellow to guide and supervise the day-to-day activities of interns, which involve hands-on laboratory work, the management, analysis, and interpretation of data, directed readings of relevant scientific literature, and participation in formal and informal discussions, meetings, and presentations (e.g. lab meetings, journal clubs, and seminars). Students must satisfactorily complete a NeuroLab residential research institute before being considered for acceptance into the NeuroLab internship program the following summer. Specific details on research internships, including eligibility requirements, program dates, time commitments, travel, and other information, will be provided to prospective applicants during residential research institutes.