Mentor a SULI Summer Student
By Davide Castelvecchi
Do you want to make a difference in the life of a student, while getting
some help in your lab this summer?
|Students from last year’s SULI program
reflect on their accomplishments. (Photo
by Diana Rogers)
The DOE Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) program will
bring students to the SLAC campus, to take part in eight to nine weeks
of research training. Volunteer researchers are needed who are willing
to assign projects, work with the students and serve as mentors and role
models. Post-docs and graduate students can also be mentors, as long as
they get the go-ahead from their research groups.
Each year, the SLAC Selection Committee picks 25 students from a large
applicant pool, focusing on those for whom they think the program can
make a real difference, such as those who have had no chance to see what
research work is like, and those who might lack the confidence to go for
a career in science. Many are women, minorities or students from small
colleges or community colleges.
“Projects should have a real research component,” says Helen Quinn (THP),
who manages the program at SLAC. At the end of the summer, each student
presents a talk and submits a research report.
“A vibrant research field requires bringing new students in,” says
physicist Mike Woods (EA). He added that some of the students he
mentored in the past have produced very useful work by initiating
projects that might otherwise not get done. One SULI student designed a
detector for use as a beam monitor in E-158. “A year later he went on to
graduate school at Berkeley,” Woods says,
“where he participated in building the detector.”
Mentoring is Fun
Being a mentor can be time consuming, but does have its rewards. “It’s
fun because [the students] give you a reality check,” says particle
astrophysicist and former mentor Eduardo do Couto e Silva (EK). “When
you are forced to explain things in simple terms, it gives you a deeper
understanding of what you’re doing.”
“Helen is outstanding,” said do Couto e Silva of Quinn’s efforts. “She
should be highly commended for how the program is run.” Students from
past years often write her to express their gratitude.
“I grew up in a male-dominated country,” wrote one student, “and I
always had this fear that I would not be able to fulfill my dreams…now I
know that the sky is the limit.”
“I have not only learned about physics and computers,” wrote another,
“but also how to look at the future and succeed.”
Those who are interested or who have questions should contact the
program coordinators for their respective research areas: Tom Glanzman
or Mike Woods (Research); Herman Winick (SSRL); Al Baker or John Fox
(Technical); and Greg Madejski (Astro Physics).