Nexus Scholar applications open for summer 2023

Students in the College of Arts & Sciences who are interested in summer research can now start applying for the Nexus Scholars Program.

In its second year, the program matches undergraduate students with summer opportunities to work side by side with faculty from across the college (humanities, social sciences, and STEM) on their research projects.

Along with the summer research experience, the program offers professional development workshops and career exploration events. Students will be awarded up to $7,000 for full-time work during the 8½-week summer program on the Cornell campus in Ithaca.

Nexus Scholars are selected based on their interest in research, their ability to work collaboratively and their potential to contribute to the field. Students who are early in their academic careers and from a variety of backgrounds are encouraged to apply. The program is made possible through a number of alumni gifts, including from Elaine Wong ’97 and Fritz Demopoulos.

Last summer, 49 students were supported through the program. For the summer of 2023, the program plans to support 75-100 students. Applications are open on the Experience Cornell site and are due Dec. 4. Students will be notified of their acceptance in February and will work from May 31-July 28.

"The inaugural summer of the Nexus Scholars Program was a huge success,” said Michelle Smith, senior associate dean for undergraduate education and Ann S. Bowers Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. "At the end of summer research showcase, I was impressed with what the students accomplished and how eloquently they described how this Nexus Scholars experience prepared them for many possible careers."

The paid research opportunities are a benefit for students who can’t afford to accept unpaid summer research experiences and the program also helps faculty to reach a broader group of potential research assistants than the students they teach. Last year, 320 students applied for the summer positions.

"Students across Cornell A&S are eager for research experiences and it is wonderful we can support them thanks to generous donor funding,” Smith said. “It is making a huge difference for both student educational experiences and faculty research projects.

Nicole Hao ’25 spent the summer of 2022 researching solar flares as a member of the lab of Ray Jayawardhana, Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, Hans A. Bethe Professor and professor of astronomy.

“The goal of my summer research project was to determine whether it is possible to detect and classify solar flares in optical data using supervised machine learning algorithms,” Hao said. “I’m excited about the potential this research has to apply the trained machine learning not only to the sun, but to stars in extrasolar systems.”

Hao spent a few of her childhood years in Inner Mongolia, where the night skies were crystal clear. “I remember sitting on the staircase in front of the school I went to, and just looking up and admiring the beauty of the stars,” Hao said. “That was one of my favorite things to do as a kid.”

Hao, who plans to major in physics and computer science, said she did an independent study of TrES-2b, the darkest exoplanet, while she was in high school, but last summer’s experience was her first one in a research group.

“I had many questions in mind when I applied to the Nexus program: What do astronomers/astrophysicists do on a daily basis? How much prior knowledge is required for someone to get started on a research project? What are some of the challenges researcher encounter?” Hao said. “I think participating in the project really helped me to answer these questions I had and gain an insight into the world of astronomy.”

For more information, visit the Nexus Scholars Program page on the College of Arts & Sciences website.

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