Frequently Asked Questions for SIP Mentors

What does it mean when we say SIP is about real research?
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.
What is in it for the mentors?
  • 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
  • What are the dates, format, and schedule of the SIP summer program?
    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 12, 2017 (Sunday June 11 is the kickoff/orientation event) and continues until August 18 (Saturday August 19, 2017 is the date of the final presentations this summer) – with a possible short break or two in between.

    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).

    Are there post-summer activities?
    Maybe. The official end date of the 2017 SIP program will be Saturday August 19, 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.
    Does SIP offer stipends to mentors?
    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 $2,000 (in lieu of a proportional amount of vacation time) and will offer each graduate student a mentor stipend not to exceed $3,500. 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 $3,500 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 $3,500 SIP mentor stipend. A graduate student who will be on greater than 50% GSR support from non-SIP sources should contact SIP staff at 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.
    Do interns have to be supervised all the time?
    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.

    How many interns should a mentor sign up for?
    In 2017, mentors are expected to take a minimum of 2 interns on their project. This is important for several reasons: based on mentors’ experiences over the past 8 years, it is usually just as easy for a mentor to take two interns as one; secondly, this offers the intern a peer collaborator they are able to work with when the mentor isn’t available; and finally, having two interns reduces the chances of isolating the minor intern with adults during their time on campus.
    Can a mentor help with the selection of interns?
    Yes, the SIP staff would love to have input from mentors. For the mentors, it entails reading essays and teacher recommendations and ranking applications according to SIP rubrics. Mentors who are interested should please contact SIP staff at
    What is the history of SIP? What is the track record of the program?
    The SIP program started in the summer of 2009 when three rising seniors from the Harker School in San Jose worked on their respective astronomy research projects with Professor Raja GuhaThakurta in the astronomy/astrophysics department. The number of SIP interns has grown exponentially since that time: 15 in 2010, 29 in 2011, 43 in 2012, 61 in 2013, 68 in 2014, 104 in 2015, and 142 in 2016. More than fifty different schools were represented in the 2016 edition of SIP. Many SIP interns have gone on to garner honors in the Siemens and Intel national science competitions and present papers at scientific conferences. SIP alumni have also enjoyed an outstanding record of college placements.
    Which high schools do SIP interns come from?
    SIP is open to all schools and the program staff are proud to have had students from 89 excellent public, private, and charter schools – most in the Bay Area, but some out of state, and some international. SIP has partnerships with several Bay Area schools and organizations: Building Futures Now (East Palo Alto), Castilleja School (Palo Alto), College Track (East Palo Alto, Oakland, Sacramento, and San Francisco), Downtown College Prep (San Jose), Eastside College Prep (East Palo Alto), Harker School (San Jose), Minds Matter of San Francisco, Peninsula Bridge (Palo Alto), Santa Cruz HS, Soquel HS, and Watsonville HS, to name a few. A partnership mean the institution’s staff help us with SIP intern selection from their school. The main goal of these partnerships is to expand its outreach to local high schools, with a particular emphasis on under served student populations. The SIP staff anticipate that this summer the intern pool will be more diverse than ever before.

    For more information on the high schools represented in SIP, please see the Diversity Efforts page.

    Does each mentor need to fill out a CANRA form?
    Yes, please. Please click on this link to access California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) packet and form.
    If a mentor doesn't have a lot of experience working with high-school students, what are some of the things she/he should keep in mind?
    The SIP program usually attracts very motivated, focused students. Nevertheless, there are many aspects of working with high-school students that the mentor may want to consider:

  • SIP interns are high-school students, not college students – they are minors. Interns will need to comply with any lab safety procedures followed in the mentor’s lab. If the project involves field work, mentors should contact SIP staff to ensure that their safety and oversight measures are appropriate for high-school students.
  • Mentors should 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 would apply to all situations including but not limited to supervising interns, driving, field trips, lab work, social situations, etc. Mentors are expected to take two or more interns on a project to ensure that interns are not isolated.
  • What else should a mentor know about working with high-school students?
    Interns in this age group are generally mature, proactive and easy to communicate with. However, some interns are a little shy and may need some practice communicating with adults. The SIP FAQ page outlines expectations for interns to check email regularly and communicate with their mentor about scheduling, meetings, etc. If, however, a mentor feels that an intern is having trouble with time management or is not communicating, please let the SIP staff know as soon as possible. There may be something else going on, or the staff may be able to talk with other adults (parents, counselors, etc.) and work with the intern to help her/him improve in this area. The mentor should not have to handle this alone.
    Do SIP Interns participate in science competitions after the summer program is over?
    In the past, many SIP alumni have submitted papers to science competitions after completing their research project over the summer. The SIP staff encourages this provided the mentor supports the submission.

    SIP mentors can review guidelines for the Siemens Competition and Regeneron (formerly Intel) Science Talent Search.

    In addition, we have requested further reassurance for mentors regarding intellectual property and have received this response from Regeneron/Intel STS.

    If you have additional concerns about your interns submitting papers to the Siemens Competition and/or Regeneron/Intel STS, please contact the SIP staff.

    What paperwork is required?
    Mentors must complete and turn in the 2017 mentor agreement form by May 1, 2017.
    Where can I find access to the mentor portal?
    The SIP mentor portal can be found here.