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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook introduces SOAR, a new research pilot program

The inaugural class of the Chancellor’s Summer Research Excellence Fund which facilitated the University’s Summer Opportunity for Academic Research (SOAR). The program offers students the opportunity to participate in summer research at Stony Brook. PHOTO COURTESY OF STONY BROOK NEWS

Stony Brook University’s new pilot research program for underprivileged students, Summer Opportunity for Academic Research (SOAR), made its debut on May 30 and concluded on August 4. 

The SOAR program, completely funded by SUNY, offered students from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to participate in full-time, 10-week-long summer research at Stony Brook, along with on-campus housing, a meal plan stipend and a $5,000 stipend for the research work. 

Although the program itself was held on Stony Brook’s campus, it was also open to students at SUNY Old Westbury, Suffolk County Community College and Farmingdale State College who may not have had access to summer research opportunities otherwise. Of the 25 students selected to be part of the program, 20 were from Stony Brook and five were from other SUNY schools.

Director for the Center for Inclusive Education (CIE) Karian Wright described the purpose of this program. 

“What this program will do is ensure the students have the qualifications to move forward [i]n their academic journey[s],” Wright said.

In addition to their full-time research, students were required to attend weekly professional development programs that included graduate students, graduate program directors and speakers from the Career Center, which allowed them to gain perspective and insight on what they could do after the program ended. 

Freshman biology major Ada Lin participated in the program this past summer, competing in a synthetic biology competition titled International Genetically Engineered Machine (IGEM). SOAR provided Ada with the funds she needed to be able to stay on campus during the summer and work on her research with her team. 

“I don’t have to worry about financial stuff and I can just focus fully on IGEM alone,” Lin said. 

What makes SOAR stand out compared to other research programs like IGEM is the lack of constraint on what the students can do. Any student interested in conducting research — regardless of their major — is allowed to apply to SOAR, and the research projects include a multitude of topics that incorporate all of the STEM fields. 

Junior biomedical engineering major Alisha Tejada, who took part in SOAR over the summer and won the Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities researcher of the month award in August, commended the program. 

“Not only did it help me academically, it also helped me mentally,” Tejada said. “I felt more confident as a result of participating in my research lab and if it wasn’t for SOAR, I don’t think I would be as confident to apply to internships and jobs.”

The program concluded with the summer research symposium, where each of the 25 students presented the research that they worked on all summer through a scientific poster. 

“Watching the transition over the 10 weeks and the transformation of how they become confident scientists by the end is so beautiful,” Program Manager for CIE and SOAR Lisa Ospitale remarked. 

As of right now, there is no guarantee that SOAR will continue to be funded moving forward.  However, there are high hopes that SUNY will provide compensation and allow even more slots to open for students.

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