High School Research Program Information

Application for 2024 High School Research Program is now open!

Applications due March 31, 2024 by 11:59 PM EST.

 Tentative Program Start and End Dates for the 2024 Program

June 25 – August 9


Selected applicants are expected to participate for the entire duration of the program into which you are admitted. Selected applicants must be able to start and end the program on the dates listed.


Photo of Ithaca, NY from an aerial view in including Cayuga Lake

(Photo of Ithaca, NY from an aerial view including Cayuga Lake)

Student in bee suit holding an frame from a beehive with live bees.

About Boyce Thompson Institute and the High School Research Program 

The Boyce Thompson Institute is a life science research institute located on Cornell University campus. Scientists at BTI conduct investigations into plant and life sciences research with the goals of increasing food security, improving environmental sustainability in agriculture and making basic discoveries that will enhance human life. 


Every year, the Boyce Thompson Institute hosts local high schoolers to take part in research within one of our labs. These high school researchers are involved in the day-to-day research taking place, and get a snapshot into the world of plant science research. The first group of high school researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute dates back to the 1970s when BTI was still located in Yonkers, New York! 


High School Program FAQs

Who can apply to the High School Research Experience

To be eligible for the High School Research Experience students must meet all eligibility requirements:

  • A current high school student, who is regional to Ithaca, NY year-round. Unfortunately, we are not able to accept students who are not within a reasonable commute of Ithaca, or are not year-round residents of the area. We consider a reasonable commute to be within ~1-hour away from Ithaca, NY. 
  • 16 years of age before the first day of the program
  • Not graduated by the first day of the program, June 25th (graduating seniors not eligible)
How will I be compensated?

High school researchers receive a stipend, paid monthly, totaling $4,200 for the program. We do not provide any meal, housing, or travel stipends. 

The High School Research Program is generously funded through local foundations and private donations. 

Do you provide meals?

We do not provide meals or meal stipends to high school researchers. Every week, there is a Professional Development seminar for our high school and undergraduate researchers to learn about research taking place at the Boyce Thompson Institute and Cornell University. A meal will be provided during these seminars.

Is there a transportation service?

High school researchers are responsible for their daily commute to work. Students who have a vehicle and wish to park on campus will be provided options to purchase a parking pass. Students may also use ParkMobile friendly lots for a daily rate near their building. 

How will I be notified of my acceptance?

You will be notified of your acceptance via email. It is important you create your account with a primary email so you don’t miss important updates from us.

I applied last year but was not accepted, can I apply again?

Yes. You may apply again if you have not graduated high school by the start of the program and meet the other eligibility requirements. 

What opportunities will I have to learn about Cornell University?

Our programming provides a variety of opportunities for you to learn more about the Cornell Undergraduate and Graduate School application process, as well as the experience of current Cornell graduate students. You will be invited to attend a half-day Graduate School Panel discussion lead by the Directors of Graduate Study for a dozen fields across Cornell. You will also have the opportunity to network with faculty following weekly seminars and connect with the Undergraduate and Graduate School admissions officers. Lastly, each student will be in a lab and work directly with current graduate students and postdocs who will be able to share their own experiences and perspectives, as well as opportunities to connect with undergraduate interns.

What kind of extracurricular activities are available?

High school students will have the opportunity to be involved with a variety of programming throughout the summer, including field trips to Cornell labs. Other social opportunities for students may be available for you to connect with your peers, and to create an unforgettable summer.  

How will my research project be determined?

The selection committee and faculty will do their best to match students with a project that is of interest and is aligned with individual’s background and experience.

On the application form, applicants will be asked to share which type of research interests them the best, and aligns with their current skills. Please reference the “Projects & Faculty” tab above for more information. 

Scientists work in different settings depending on their research. Some spend their days out in the field or planting in greenhouses, while others spend their days working in the lab or on the computer. Consider what interests you the most, and what aligns with your interests. 


What types of projects are available?

The program offers a variety of projects spanning plant science, plant molecular biology, plant biotic interactions, bioinformatics, and biological engineering of plant systems. To learn more about each area please visit https://btiscience.org/education-outreach/research-internships/

    In addition to my research project, what else will I do each week?
    • Attend weekly seminar(s) with scientists from BTI, Cornell, and the USDA
    • Attend lab meetings, read, and discuss recent literature related to your project
    • Learn about undergraduate and graduate school, scientific careers and work in an international environment
    • Write a research proposal, practice peer reviews, and learn the art of scientific communication
    • Present your research to the other students, scientists, and mentors at the annual George and Helen Kohut Symposium
    Will I need to be vaccinated to participate in the REU program?

    Currently, proof of COVID-19 vaccination is not required to participate in programs at the Boyce Thompson Institute and Cornell University. We carefully follow any regulations provided by our local public health department. This is pending change if any new public health mandate is released by the county, state, or federal government. 

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    Internships are funded by the National Science Foundation, Research Experiences for Undergraduates Award #1358843, individual faculty grants, and the generosity of donors including the Emerson Foundation , Ithaca Garden Club, John Ben Snow, the Legacy Foundation of Tompkins County, Rheonix, Triad Foundation Inc, Yunis Realty , and many individual donors.

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