AAI Summer Research Program for Teachers

  Applications Are Open Until Friday, March 15

The American Association of Immunologists (AAI), in order to promote excellence in science education at the secondary school level, is sponsoring a summer research program created specifically for high school teachers: the AAI High School Teachers Summer Research Program in Immunology. This program provides support for hands-on experiences that allow teachers to conduct research in the laboratories of AAI members for a 4- to 6-week period during the summer followed by curriculum development.

Participating teachers will receive a $5,000 stipend upon successful completion of the program and will receive support to attend a professional meeting to present their experiences. Prior to starting their work in the lab, teachers are offered the opportunity to attend Part I of the AAI Introductory Course in Immunology held in July to learn the fundamental principles of the field.

The AAI High School Teachers Summer Research Program in Immunology is directed by Mike Criscitiello, Ph.D., Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, Texas A&M University, and administered by Dr. Mary Litzinger, Director of Educational and Career Development Programs.

Program Goals

The goal of the program is to give science teachers the opportunity to participate in an actual research experience in immunology. This experience is intended to acquaint the teacher with modern research tools and techniques, and to allow them to bring the excitement of research to their classrooms. Another goal of the program is to establish long-term associations between science teachers and the research community. Finally, the program allows each teacher to develop written laboratory exercises that will be used in their classroom and will be available to other teachers through the archive maintained on the AAI web site.

Program Structure

  1. Prior to entering a research laboratory, teachers are invited to attend Part I of a lecture course sponsored by AAI: the AAI Introductory Course in Immunology. This will familiarize the teachers with the basic concepts of the field and help provide a foundation upon which to base the laboratory experience. AAI provides financial support for travel, accommodations, and other expenses associated with attending this course. (Attendance at this course is optional.)
  2. Teachers will work in a research laboratory of a "mentor" (an AAI member with a research program) for 4 to 6 weeks during the summer. The time period is by mutual agreement. In some cases, this period is structured such that a teacher is primarily learning about the mentor's research. Teachers will observe the research, assist with lab protocols, converse with graduate students, and read about immunology in general and the laboratory research in particular. In other cases, the teachers may pursue independent projects developed in consultation with their mentors. The laboratory will be located near the applicant to reduce the need for extensive travel. Teachers will receive a $2,500 stipend for their laboratory time (and another $2,500 upon completion of the entire program; see below).
  3. At the end of the lab experience, teachers develop a curriculum unit designed to introduce high school students to key immunological concepts through activities and lab protocols. Teachers work in collaboration with an education specialist and use curriculum templates to guide the creation of these units. In the coming school year, teachers "field test" the units in their own classrooms and revise their curriculum units based on the experience with their students and specialist review. When finalized, these units are made available to all interested science teachers through an archive on the AAI website.
  4. During the academic year, teachers also prepare abstracts, poster presentations, and/or short talks (PowerPoint presentations) that summarize their summer projects. The mentor and education specialist are available to assist and guide with the development of these presentations. The teachers are expected to attend a professional meeting where they present their project and program experiences. AAI provides financial support for travel, accommodations, and other expenses associated with attending this meeting.
  5. Upon successful attendance of the meeting and completion of all program requirements, teachers receive the final payment ($2,500).

Application Instructions

An application form requesting professional background, research interests, a brief description of the proposed summer research project (if known), and projected follow-up activities upon completion of the project must be submitted by the teacher, with supporting documentation from a school administrator (see administrator application). The AAI member (mentor) agrees to provide adequate research space and supplies (see mentor application). Women and minority teachers, as well as teachers in school systems with a high minority enrollment, are especially encouraged to apply for this program. 

Teachers, administrators, and proposed scientist/mentors (if known) should submit their applications together as a team. If a teacher would like to participate but does not know an AAI member who can serve as a mentor, please contact the AAI offices (infoaai@aai.org) for assistance.

Submit applications by email to Dr. Mary Litzinger at mlitzinger@aai.org, and please put The AAI High School Teachers Summer Research Program in the subject line.

Questions about the application process? Please contact the AAI offices at infoaai@aai.org, or (301) 634-7178.

2023–2024 Participants

Jennifer Cuddy, Shrewsbury High School, Shrewsbury, MA
Mentor: Sally C. Kent, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, Worcester, MA

Elizabeth Foote, Southfield Christian School, Southfield, MI
Mentor: Nardhy Gomez-Lopez, Ph.D., Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI

Erin Lisi, Guy B. Phillips Middle School, Chapel Hill, NC
Mentor: Jenny P.-Y. Ting, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

Kelly Thadeus, Yellow Wood Academy / Mercer Island, Mercer Island, WA
Mentor: Estelle Bettelli, Ph.D., Benaroya Research Institute, Seattle, WA

Wendy Toro, Artesia High School / ABC Unified School District, Lakewood, CA 
Mentor: Amanda M. Burkhardt, Ph.D., University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Past Participants


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