Zuckerman Institute Introduces High School Students to Frontiers of Neuroscience

BRAINYAC program pairs high school students with scientists for intensive lab apprenticeships.

Hands-on experience in a laboratory is a crucial component of preparing today’s youth to become the next generation of scientists. With this mind, the Zuckerman Institute's Brain Research Apprenticeships in New York at Columbia (BRAINYAC) program provides an immersive science research experience in which high school students train and work in neuroscience laboratories at Columbia University. The BRAINYAC program to open to students from BRAINYAC partner programs (listed below).

The BRAINYAC program runs from January through August each year. Students first participate in Saturday morning training sessions, generally held twice a month, from January to May. During these sessions, students prepare for their summer laboratory internships. Trainings cover basic lab techniques, the essentials of neuroscience and how a lab works. During this time, each student is matched with a neuroscientist at Columbia University who will become the student’s mentor for the summer portion of the program.

Starting in late June or early July, students commence the laboratory portion of the program. Students work in their internship labs full-time, Monday–Friday, taking part in a research project, guided by their mentor. Depending on the lab and the project, a student might employ techniques such as microscopy, cell culture, functional imaging analysis and computer modeling.

Students join weekly BRAINYAC advisory sessions throughout their summer to support their research progress and advance their science communication skills. BRAINYAC students come away from the experience with an enhanced understanding of how laboratory research leads to transformative discovery, exposure to a professional and academic environment and a heightened connection to science as a career.

BRAINYAC receives generous support from the Pinkerton Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

At this time the BRAINYAC program only accepts applications from 10th and 11th grade students nominated by one of our partner programs: S-PREP, Lang Youth Medical, Double Discovery Center, and Columbia Secondary School. Applicants must reside in New York City, and preference is given to students in upper Manhattan and the South Bronx.

Program applications are distributed to our partner programs each Fall.

To learn more about other internship programs for high school students in the New York City area, please visit:

New York City Science and Engineering Fair: Student Resources
The Rockefeller University: Science Enrichment Opportunities
NYC Science Research Mentoring Consortium
The New York Academy of Sciences: The Junior Academy
Pathways to Science: Program Directory

Top left image: BRAINYAC scholar (front) and mentor in the laboratory of Zuckerman Principal Investigator Wesley Grueber, PhD (credit: Devin Powell).

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