SPARK: Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about the SPARK program in these frequently asked questions.

How long does the program run?

The program runs for 10 weeks during the summer, from May to August. We offer several start dates to accommodate students. Because the program expects a 40 hour commitment a week, summer classes or employment are discouraged.

Is there a stipend?

Yes. The stipend totals $3000 and is distributed in two parts. One part is distributed in July and the other upon the conclusion of the program in August, once all requirements have been fulfilled.

Is there a dress code?

Business casual or research laboratory standard when applicable. We are committed to fostering a positive image appropriate for a healthcare and research institute environment, conveying confidence and respect for the center and maintaining the health and safety of patients, visitors, faculty and staff.  All employees and members of the workforce will dress in a manner that is appropriate for their position and work performed.

Does the SPARK program assign mentors?

Yes. The committee reviews each student’s application for their interests and tries to match them the best we can. Therefore, it is important to explain your interests in detail and any potential mentors with who you would like to work within the application. Once you have been assigned a mentor, you will work together to create a project for the internship.

Do interns have to undergo lab safety training?

If the intern will be working in a wet lab setting, they are required to complete lab safety training.

How involved does the intern get with the lab?

Interns are encouraged to attend seminars at the cancer center to further explore potential interests. They are also expected to attend scheduled lab meetings.

What type of training will I complete?

SPARK interns come from many different backgrounds, so the amount of training necessary will vary. Every intern will have the opportunity to gain familiarity with standard methodologies and research techniques in a safe environment. They will learn about available core resources necessary for their individual projects. This can include but is not limited to the medical library; flow cytometry; molecular biology pathology and molecular imaging; functional genomics; and biostatistics.

What will my summer as a SPARK intern look like?

All interns will acquire necessary data through experimentation, computation, surveys, or other means and document them in an appropriate format. They will review and discuss the implications of their data with their mentors, draw conclusions and make new plans for further experimentation. Upon conclusion of their internship opportunity, SPARK interns will present their summer research projects at Research Day as well as submit a four to five-page paper.