Unravel the Mysteries of Science: Your Journey Through the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

University of Florida signage

Unravel the Mysteries of Science: Your Journey Through the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program

Welcome to an exciting journey through one of the most exhilarating science training programs you could embark on during high school! Are you ready to dive into the world of innovation and discovery? Let’s explore the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program (SSTP).

What is the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program?

Join on a scientific odyssey with the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program (UF SSTP), a dynamic seven-week immersion designed for high school juniors about to enter their senior year.

This program is for those at least 16 years of age by the start of the program and who are contemplating futures in the realms of science, medicine, mathematics, computer science, or engineering. At its core, UF SSTP offers a deep dive into research, working closely with a faculty scientist and their dedicated team to push the boundaries of knowledge.

Bioengineer students working on a lab.

As a participant, you must bring to the table not only academic prowess but also the maturity to thrive in an independent learning environment, a readiness to engage in teamwork, and a passionate commitment to research pursuits.

UF SSTP is intensive and brisk, catering to students who are both intellectually curious and driven. Immerse yourself for 30 hours each week in the cutting-edge research spearheaded by your faculty mentor, enrich your mind with daily lectures on avant-garde research topics, and stretch your intellectual muscles in a UF honors seminar.

Beyond the lab and classroom, you’ll refine a suite of essential life skills, from interpersonal communication to leadership, all while engaging in a variety of academic, social, and service activities. And for those attending a Florida high school, there’s the added benefit of earning dual enrollment credit.

This academic program is a crucible time for growth, offering a glimpse into the life of a researcher and setting the stage for your future academic and professional endeavors.

View of students being trained by a professional.

Exploring the Academic Horizons

Research Component

Step into the world of cutting-edge research with the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program, where you’ll be welcomed into a university laboratory team, handpicked to match your interests and prior experiences.

As an SSTP participant, the summer will transform you into an integral part of your designated lab’s ongoing research projects. You’ll gain hands-on experience, from dissecting scientific literature to mastering the nuances of lab procedures and equipment. Under the mentorship of your faculty guide, you’ll not only contribute to a research plan but also come to understand the ins and outs of the scientific process.

Engineering students working together on a lab.

Whether it’s clinical trials, hands-on bench research, engineering feats, computational tasks, or field research, the SSTP experience is vast and varied. Here, you will be coached in the art of laboratory excellence, scientific exploration, and the diverse pathways within research careers.

The culmination of your summer’s hard work includes a well-crafted research paper, two engaging research presentations, and a poster encapsulating your findings.

Lectures: A Window to the Scientific Vanguard

Get on a daily intellectual voyage with our interdisciplinary lecture series, delivered by UF’s own research trailblazers. These sessions will illuminate the forefront of modern research, spanning biology, physics, mathematics, engineering, and medicine.

Dive into discussions about the intertwining of ethics and science, the intricacies of technical writing, the essentials of lab safety, and the intersection of humanities and science. Past lectures have journeyed through topics as diverse as the unpredictability in mathematics, ethical quandaries in the lab, the intricacies of micro air vehicles, the craftsmanship of science writing, challenges in global health, and strategies to combat climate change. It’s a daily dose of inspiration and enlightenment for every budding scientist.

A conference speaker presenting to youth leaders

Seminar: Honors Discussions on the Edge of Discovery

In the UF Interdisciplinary Honors Seminar Course, you’ll join a tight-knit group of no more than 12 students, delving into the latest research areas. These seminars foster a vibrant learning atmosphere through a blend of lectures, library research, discussions, papers, presentations, and quizzes.

Imagine a classroom buzzing with debate and discovery, led by researchers and experts who are actively shaping the fields they teach—from unraveling the mysteries of cancer to harnessing the potential of carbon nanotubes for energy solutions.

As an SSTP scholar, you’ll voice your seminar preferences, ensuring your journey aligns with your passions. And for those hailing from Florida high schools, there’s the added perk of earning dual enrollment credit for this part of the program as well.

View of computer engineers working on a project.

Academic Expectations

As a young scientist in the making, you’ll author a journal-quality research paper, deliver two compelling scientific presentations—a mid-term and a final—and craft a research poster that encapsulates your lab’s groundbreaking work.

Your path to success is supported every step of the way by academic counselors who provide weekly guidance, written evaluations, study sessions, and casual yet insightful discussions to deepen your learning experience.

Your intellectual prowess will be put to the test as you tackle assignments that spring from the morning lectures. These tasks are designed to sharpen your ability to critically evaluate and integrate complex scientific concepts.

In the honors seminar, you’ll navigate through an exciting curriculum crafted by your seminar leaders, which may span from analyzing primary scientific literature to engaging in quizzes, collaborative presentations, and thought-provoking class discussions. This is your chance to shine in the academic arena, where every question you ask and every idea you share contributes to your scholarly growth.

Group of student working on a table.

Why Should You Go to the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program?

At the heart of the UF SSTP are three pillars: hands-on laboratory research, a captivating series of science lectures, and an enriching UF Honors Program seminar.

To bolster your academic journey, dedicated residential and academic counselors are at your side, facilitating group discussions, coordinating with faculty mentors, ensuring one-on-one progress meetings, clarifying scientific literature, and guiding you through your coursework.

Your commitment to the program is evidenced through active participation in all facets of SSTP, meticulous weekly lab reports, crafting a detailed scientific research paper, and delivering a research poster presentation.

You’ll also be tasked with presenting your findings orally, not once but twice. The Honors Program seminar will engage you with various assignments, ranging from quizzes and presentations to reaction papers and group projects, all designed to hone your academic acumen.

Unknown person using a laboratory tool.

The SSTP is a holistic program that fosters both your personal and academic development. Through collaborative discussions, presentations, workshops, and practical exercises, you will refine your communication and leadership skills. The peer-driven environment encourages critical thinking and enhances your interpersonal abilities and technical writing prowess.

The weekends at SSTP are reserved for unwinding and bonding, with a host of social activities, community service opportunities, and educational field trips. These are moments to make enduring friendships and create memories that extend well beyond the classroom. Plus, there’s ample free time for informal networking, ensuring that the connections you make here will last a lifetime.

How do you get into the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program?

Getting into SSTP is a competitive process that recognizes bright young scientists who show exceptional promise. You’ll need a strong academic record, a passion for science, and the drive to tackle complex problems. Recommendations from your teachers and a demonstrated interest in research will help you stand out.

Three students talking over something on the table.

How to Apply to the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program?

Ready to take the plunge? Dive into the future of science by applying to the student programs offered by UF CPET through their straightforward online application portal. Here’s how you can navigate the application journey:

Begin by setting up your account on the portal, which serves as your gateway to apply. The process is digital, with all components submitted online unless otherwise specified. Once you’ve meticulously filled out each section, remember to finalize your application by hitting ‘SUBMIT’ on your account.

Female student smiling while writing.

Here’s what you’ll need to prepare for the UF SSTP Application:

User Information: Fill in your details along with your parent or guardian’s contact information to stay connected with the program. Make sure the contact details are up to date.

Application Form: This is where you shine! Share details about your extracurricular engagements and tackle two thought-provoking writing prompts, each with a 500-word limit:

Prompt 1: Dive deep into your passion for a STEM field of your choice—be it Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, or any other—and explain what draws you to it.

Prompt 2: Cast your vision a decade forward, both academically and professionally. How do you plan to turn these ambitions into reality?

Beautiful woman reading a letter.

Teacher Endorsement Forms: Select two educators or mentors who can vouch for your abilities and potential in STEM. They’ll need to speak to your maturity, teamwork, and readiness for university-level research. Choose wisely—think of those who know your strengths in and out. They’ll receive an automated request to endorse you, but it’s best to give them a heads-up before the system reaches out.

Academic Record Form: Download this form from the portal for your Guidance Counselor to complete. While standardized test scores like the PSAT, SAT, or ACT are not mandatory, include them if available. Once filled, it should be sent directly to CPET via email, post, or fax.

Official High School Transcript: Ask your school office to fax a copy of your transcript to CPET at 352-392-2344. Ensure they include your latest semester grades from your junior year. Remember, your application must be initiated before sending your transcripts, or they will not be retained.

Male student typing in his laptop.

Application Fee: The $50 application fee can be paid via the ‘How to Pay’ page. Eligible students from Florida High Schools can apply for a fee waiver.

For each of these tasks, you’ll acknowledge and submit them for approval in the portal. They will confirm receipt, and then you can mark them as ‘complete.’ With all sections finalized, you’re set to submit your full application.

Start this adventure with confidence, and take your first step towards a summer that could redefine your future in science!

How Hard Is It to Get into the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program?

Let’s not sugarcoat it—gaining a spot in the SSTP is challenging due to its prestigious nature and limited spots. However, don’t let this discourage you! Your unique experiences, academic prowess, and zeal for science could make you the perfect candidate. It’s about showing why you belong in this program and how you can contribute to its vibrant community of thinkers.

The program accepts about 30 students each year. Students interested in attending the UF SSTP must possess a high level of maturity, an ability to live and learn independently, a desire to work collaboratively, and a sincere interest in research.

There is no minimum GPA to apply, but applicants’ transcripts should reflect high academic standards both in grades and coursework.

smiling woman inside university


Application Fee: $50

Total Program Expense: $5,200.

This encompasses accommodation, staff oversight, excursions and activities pertinent to the program, insurance (either primary or supplementary, depending on the coverage from parents), and specialized materials for the program. Please note that daily meals are not covered by this fee.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Dive into the UF SSTP without financial worries holding you back. They urge all aspiring scientists to apply, regardless of financial capacity. If you’re seeking financial assistance, simply fill out the accompanying request form alongside your application via the online portal.

Rest assured, your financial situation won’t impact the selection process. In fact, those applying for aid offer the option to waive the non-refundable deposit to ease your entry into the program.

Two students sitting on the stairs of a building.

While the availability of need-based scholarships fluctuates annually, their commitment to supporting students with significant financial needs remains steadfast. It is encouraged to actively pursue additional funding avenues! Meaning, you can raise money to fund your participation in this program. Many of the students have also successfully obtained full scholarships through local businesses, corporations, civic groups, and generous individual donors.

Please note that the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program does not offer merit-based scholarships.

However, occasionally, scholarships that are not based on need and are dependent on specific donor criteria do become available. If such opportunities arise, they will reach out to eligible students who have been accepted into the UF SSTP and have completed their initial program commitments. Keep an eye out—such scholarships could be the key to unlocking an unforgettable summer of scientific exploration!

When Is the Deadline to Apply to the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program?

Applications will be available in January! The program does not have a set deadline for applications. The UF SSTP operates on a rolling admissions basis, meaning applications will be evaluated continuously until all spots are filled.

Group of students walking in the campus.

When Do I Find Out About My Application to the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program?

The SSTP has a rolling admission process, which means applications will continue to be reviewed until the program is filled.

Selection announcements will be sent to the email address you provided in your application. You must ensure that you provide a valid email and routinely monitor it for updates from the UF SSTP program. Delayed responses to emails could lead to your placement on the waitlist!

Upon receiving an invitation to join, you must reply within a 10-day window from when the email was dispatched. To secure your place in the UF SSTP, those who accept the invitation must submit a $500 non-refundable deposit.

Female student writing letters of recommendation

Upon your acceptance into the program, you’ll receive an acceptance email that comes equipped with a meticulously detailed checklist. This checklist will be your guide to the essential program forms that you’ll need to fill out prior to the program’s commencement.

Included in the checklist are convenient links directing you to each form, along with crystal-clear instructions to ensure that you complete them accurately. Pay close attention to the due dates provided for each form to stay on track for a smooth start to your scientific adventure.

Where Is the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program?

The SSTP takes place at the University of Florida’s sprawling campus in Gainesville, a hub of innovation and research. You’ll get to live in the residence halls, experience campus life, and use state-of-the-art facilities.

Your Home Away from Home at UF

Get ready to immerse yourself in the collegiate experience with the UF SSTP, where you’ll reside in a suite-style residence hall on campus. Imagine a space where you and your fellow participants can unwind—a suite with two bedrooms for four students, complete with a kitchen, a cozy living area, and a bathroom. Stay connected with internet and Wi-Fi access throughout the campus, ensuring you’re always a click away from the world and your studies.

Group of students smiling at the camera.

Community and Comfort in Campus Life

The SSTP residential counselors are your guides to campus life, fostering a sense of community and easing the transition to living independently. Bond with your peers through floor activities, communal dining, social events, and intimate group gatherings. Counselors will keep you engaged with a range of activities, from impromptu basketball games and music jams to practical life skills sessions like cooking and laundry.

Diversity and Discovery in Your Living Quarters

SSTP celebrates a diverse living community, promoting interactions among students from different walks of life. Roommate requests aren’t part of their philosophy, as they believe in the serendipity of new connections. Even if you come from the same high school, expect to pair with a new roommate, selected based on lifestyle preferences from study habits to sleep patterns, as indicated on your Roommate Matching/Personal Interest Sheet.

a group of students running at the open field

Engagement Outside the Lab

The SSTP isn’t all work; there’s plenty of play! Participate in our weekly roster of social happenings—from dinner gatherings and dances to bowling nights and the vibrant Gator Nights. Weekends bring the promise of exploration with field trips and community service projects as well.

Weekend Wonders

Though your  SSTP days will be bustling, there’s room for relaxation. Use the campus recreational facilities, join a Saturday adventure on a field trip, or volunteer. Sundays are yours for leisure, shopping for groceries, and advancing your projects.

When Does the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program Take Place?

SSTP is a summer program, typically running from June to August. Each year’s exact dates are provided when the program announces its application cycle. Stay updated for the 2024 program dates!

College students using a laptop in the court yard.

How Long Is the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program?

At seven weeks, SSTP is a comprehensive experience. This duration allows you enough time to delve deep into your research project, learn from faculty, and enjoy various enrichment activities.

Final Thoughts

With hands-on laboratory work, engaging lectures, and interactive seminars, the University of Florida’s Student Science Training Program shapes not only your academic prowess but also your personal growth. It’s a place where future scientists are born, where the seeds of lifelong friendships are sown, and where the path to future careers in STEM are paved with every experiment and every discovery.

As you consider applying to this exceptional program, remember that you’re stepping into a world where your potential will be challenged and your dreams nurtured. This is where your journey in unraveling the mysteries of science truly begins!

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