March 19, 2004  


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.

Selection Process

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.”

Program Coordinators

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).



The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Thursday March 18, 2004 by Emily Ball