• If you are currently a high school student*, or will be an incoming freshman during the upcoming school year, you are eligible to participate in the BUGS Jr Program. *Students who will graduate from high school in Spring 2024 should apply to the BUGS Jr  Program (not the BUGS undergrad program).

    There is no citizenship requirement to participate in the BUGS Jr Program.

    There is no GPA requirement to participate in the BUGS Jr Program.

  • The BUGS Jr Program typically runs from mid-June through the first Saturday in August (~7 weeks). The program culminates in a Finale Summer Symposium at which the students are introduced to the symposium attendees by their mentor and present their research results in a poster session; symposium attendees include faculty/mentors/colleagues, as well as fellow students and family members/guests.

  • Participants in the BUGS Jr Program are required to spend at least 30 hours each week in their research activities, and are required to participate in the mandatory programmatic activities (held at Michelson Hall on the University Park Campus one day per week). If you have outside commitments (a job, sports activity, summer school, family vacation or other plans) that conflict with this time commitment, you should NOT apply to this program.

  • Yes. All projects are conducted in person at USC and affiliated campuses, with an allowance for some hybrid (partly online; partly in person) participation.

    Strictly virtual/online-only projects will NOT be included in the 2024 BUGS Jr Program.

  • Yes. All participants that successfully complete the summer research course receive a stipend payment of $800.

  • No. The BUGS Jr Program is not a residential program and does not offer housing accommodations or make local living arrangements for non-local participants.

  • No. Campus parking is available through the USC Transportation department and purchase of a USC Summer Gold permit (~$3.32/day rate). Additional information will be provided when the student is accepted into the program.

  • Any research that connects with understanding the human body and human health is eligible. This is defined in a broad sense and includes studies of biomedical materials, instruments or methods development, computational or animal models of disease, cinematic investigations of scientific data or methods, as well as human health topics. Research projects in geology, plant science, green energy, astronomy, marine science, etc. are NOT eligible for participation in the BUGS Jr program.

    Note: The Department of Animal Resources (DAR) has an age restriction mandating that individuals working with animals in research must be at least 18 years old, even if accompanied by an adult/Principal Investigator.

  • If this is your first time doing research, this part may be confusing. Joining a lab requires you to reach out to the Faculty member whose lab YOU want to be in. Everyone does this part differently, but to be successful we suggest you start early and begin by doing your own research (prior to the laboratory research) and find a PI (PI = principal investigator, aka faculty member) whose research interests you. Contact the Faculty Member (via email or phone) to find out if they have openings in their lab over the summer AND (the most successful candidates) show interest/ask questions that show you know what they are doing, and let them know why that interests you and how you think you can contribute to their efforts (even if only as a careful and enthusiastic new student who is willing to put time and effort in to learn and help).

    FOR EXAMPLE: A typical introductory email might be: “Dear Prof ___, My name is ___, I am a rising [freshman/sophomore/junior/senior] at ___ School in [location]. I was reviewing [websites, or news reports, or research papers, or however you found them] and became interested in your work on [topic]. This interests me because [give reason – not too long, but enough to show you did understand some of the topics they are studying. Do you have a friend or family member affected by this health concern, is it something you studied in school, or is there another reason you’re interested]. I am interested in participating in the USC Bridge Institute’s summer research program for high school students (BUGS Jr) and wondered if you would have space in your lab and be willing to host me for this activity in 2024. [then briefly give some additional information about yourself, why you’re interested in their work, why you’d like to work at USC, what other accomplishments you have that would make you a good team member]. Applications for the 2024 BUGS Jr Program are due by April 21 and are required to identify a Faculty Mentor, so I would appreciate it if you could let me know whether you’d be willing to consider me as soon as you are able. Sincerely, ____.

    The Bridge Institute does not assist in finding a lab for you to work with over the summer.

    Any USC faculty member is eligible to be a mentor, they don’t have to be on our website, it is one way we get new faculty involved in our program. The only requirement is that the research you do with them has to—in some way—connected with improving our understanding of the human body/human health. That connection can be obvious like examining disease states or treatments, or it can be using a computer or animal model to understand a human biological process, developing a method/technology to employ on human (tissue/blood) samples or people, it can be developing new chemical compounds to use as probes or create an assay or instrument that can be used to examine some question around human health, it can be many things. It can NOT be about sustainable energy, geology, oceanography, astronomy, etc.

  • Sunday, April 21, 2024: (Student) BUGS Jr Applications due via Qualtrics.
    Students (and their Parent/Guardian) will automatically receive an email via Qualtrics confirming the application submission. Any updates or changes to the submitted application should be emailed to bugsprogram@usc.edu and NOT submitted as a new application.

    Wednesday, May 8, 2024: BUGS Jr Faculty/Mentor Contracts due via Qualtrics.

    Wednesday, May 1, 2024 – Monday, May 20, 2024: Offers of provisional acceptance in the 2024 BUGS Jr Summer Research Program are emailed to the Student and their Parent/Guardian.

    Full acceptance in the BUGS Jr Program is contingent upon:

    • Satisfactory Completion of the USC General Laboratory Safety Training Course.
    • Return of completed BUGS Jr Student Contract Forms.
    • If the student is under 18 years of age, contracts must also be signed by parent/guardian.
    • Completion of CampDoc health and registration requirements. If the student is under 18 years of age, CampDoc materials must be provided by a legal parent/guardian.

    Monday, June 17, 2024: BUGS Jr Summer Research Program begins.

    Saturday, August 3, 2024: BUGS/BUGS Jr Summer Research Finale Symposium (schedule to be determined – students should be available for full period).

  • Youth participants taking part in the BUGS Jr program and activities are required to conduct themselves in accordance with the following standards of behavior. These standards have been established to help maintain a supportive, engaging, safe, and meaningful experience for all, and are intended to operate in conjunction with the guidelines, rules and regulations of the specific camp, program, activity or event in which youth participants are taking part.

    Participant expectations:

    • Be courteous and considerate, and always interact with others respectfully
    • Practice good citizenship, open-mindedness, and always treat others with kindness
    • Use appropriate language at all times, and be thoughtful in what you say, post, share, or comment in any online platforms
    • Practice leadership and encourage fellow participants to conduct themselves appropriately and with integrity
    • Be responsible for your own behavior; uphold high standards for self and accept consequences for inappropriate behavior

    Behaviors that are not permitted include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Any actions that bully, tease, dominate, or display sexualized behavior towards another
    • Disrespecting others, crossing personal boundaries, or exhibiting unethical or immoral conduct
    • Use of inappropriate language, including profanity, slurs, insults or anything other language that could be hurtful or harmful to another person
    • Possession or consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs, including the use of tobacco by a minor
    • Possession or use of harmful objects with the intent to harm or intimidate others (e.g., weapons, fireworks, etc.)
    • Using cameras, videos, or any other type of recording devices in private areas, such as bathrooms, changing/locker rooms, or shower facilities
    • Being in spaces that are not permitted or off-limits, such as unsupervised or unauthorized spaces, etc.
    • Destruction or theft of property
    • Other conduct determined to be inappropriate for youth development

    Violations of the standards of behavior will be handled as follows:

    • If a chaperone is present for the minor involved in the violation, this person will be made aware of the violation.
    • If necessary, arrangements will be made to remove the minor from the activity or program.
    • The parent/guardian will be notified of the incident and actions that have been and/or will be taken.
    • The minor can/may be barred from participating in future USC activities and programs with minor participants.
    • When warranted (e.g., violation of law) the situation may be turned over to the appropriate external agency (e.g., law enforcement authority).

Interested in working together or have an idea to share?

Bridge Institute

Main Number:

Bridge Undergraduate Science Program (BUGS)