How SPARK Works

How SPARK Works

The SPARK program provides a research experience unlike any other with some of the nation's leading scientists at the Moffitt Cancer Center. Applicants should note that participation represents a 10-week commitment. We offer several start dates, to accommodate every accepted student. Participants will be training for 40 hours per week on a research-based project. Due to the intensity of the program, applicants are discouraged from taking summer classes or maintaining employment.

Please note that the SPARK program does not provide housing or housing allowance for interns. Students are responsible for securing their own housing and transportation.

Students will have the opportunity to join labs in diverse fields, including but not limited to:

  • Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
  • Cancer Epidemiology
  • Cancer Physiology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Experimental Therapeutics
  • Health Outcomes and Behaviors
  • Immunology
  • Integrated Mathematical Oncology
  • Machine Learning
  • Molecular Oncology
  • Tumor Biology

Students will have the opportunity to express their interests in the above fields in the SPARK application. Use the application to be as descriptive of your interests as possible. We then use that information to match every student with a mentor in that field. It is up to the discretion of each lab if they would like to keep the intern past the summer program end date.   

SPARK interns receive a taxable stipend to cover personal expenses. The $3,000 stipend will be distributed in two installments – the first in July and the second after completion of all program requirements which are due by August 31. If a lab decides to continue to work with the intern, the stipend will not be continued or increased. Any further funding provided to the student is up to the discretion of each lab.

At the end of the summer, students will be participating in Research Day by providing a five-minute oral presentation about their project to the other SPARK students, faculty members from the different labs, and their families (COVID policy permitting). Students are also expected to submit a four to five-page report on their research by the official end of the program.

Per Moffitt Cancer Center policy, all SPARK interns will be expected to undergo a drug screen, a background check and tuberculosis testing. Immunization records must also be provided by the student. Information on these requirements will be provided to students admitted to the program by Human Resources.

SPARK interns will be required to complete an online lab safety training and attend a Laboratory Research Operations Orientation.

Research Day

Upon the conclusion of the summer, all SPARK interns are invited to present their projects at Research Day. Each intern is given five minutes to give an oral presentation in the presence of their mentor, co-mentors, lab members, other interns and (COVID permitting) their families. This is their time to showcase everything they have achieved and learned over the course of their internship. Since our interns come from many different backgrounds and complete research in many different fields, it increases their exposure to the possibilities of cancer research. It also allows for each student to gain valuable public speaking experience, which they may report on future resumes.

After all the presentations are complete. The SPARK program hosts a reception afterward for all attendees to enjoy.

SPARK interns watching presentation

Science Communications Workshop

Nervous about presenting research projects in front of a crowd? We can help! Our team works hard to prepare the interns for their big day. During the summer, we hold a weekly workshop that teaches them how to create and deliver scientific research in a timely manner. Interns are given the opportunity to practice with their peers on a weekly basis. This gives allows them to be much more comfortable with their material and the process itself of presenting by Research Day.