• If they are currently a high school student*, or will be an incoming freshman during the upcoming school year, they are eligible to participate in the BUGS Jr Program. *Students who will graduate from high school in Spring 2023 should apply to the BUGS (undergraduate) 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 weekly programmatic activities (held in the mornings at Michelson Hall on the University Park Campus one day per week). If the student has outside commitments (a job, sports activity, summer school, family vacation or other plans) that conflict with this time commitment, they should NOT apply to this program. Failure to meet the time requirements during the program will result in forfeiture of place in the finale symposium and their $800 program participation stipend.

  • Yes. In response to the COVID pandemic, the BUGS Jr Program had adjusted to include virtual (and hybrid) research projects during the 2021 and 2022 Programs.

    During the 2023 Summer Program, we expect to restore focus on projects that are conducted in person at USC and affiliated campuses, with an allowance for some hybrid (partly online; partly in person) participation. Students participating in the 2023 Summer Program need to be physically present for the weekly program activities, as well as most research activities. Strictly virtual/online-only projects will NOT be included in the 2023 BUGS Jr Program.

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

    Participants who are not US citizens will be required (for USC tax compliance) to provide additional documentation to register for issuance of the stipend payment.

  • 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.

  • Students will receive training (including the USC General Laboratory Safety course) and will have supervision while participating in research and program activities. Any questions or concerns you have for the health and safety of your child should be communicated to us at bugsprogram@usc.edu or 213-821-9823.

    Relevant details about USC’s Working with Minors Policies (https://policy.usc.edu/protecting-minors/include:

    • Because all one-on-one interactions between a Covered Activity (BUGS Jr Program) Staff person and a Minor must be observable and interruptible by another Covered Activity Staff member (except under emergency circumstances), our faculty are required to identify at least one additional lab member (faculty, staff, postdoc, or grad student) to participate with them in the research activities with the student for the duration of the summer program.
    • Faculty mentors and their lab members who are working with the child/minor complete a background check before the student is notified of acceptance in the program.
    • Faculty mentors and their lab members who are working with the child/minor (<18 yo) must complete (annual) USC mandated training for interacting with minors and reporting suspected child abuse or neglect and provide their training certificate to the Bridge Institute staff.
    • Faculty mentors have a “Duty to Report” knowledge or suspicions of child abuse or neglect.
    • In the future (date TBD), USC will be transitioning to a fingerprinting requirement for part of its background check process for adults participating in Youth/Minor program activities. At this time, we do not know if the fingerprinting requirement will be enforced with respect to our 2023 Summer activity.
  • If this is their first time doing research, this part may be confusing. Joining a lab requires them to reach out to the Faculty member whose lab they want to be in. Everyone does this part differently, but to be successful we suggest they start early and begin by doing their own research (prior to the laboratory research) and find a PI (PI = principal investigator, aka faculty member) whose research interests them. We recommend they 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 they know what the faculty member is doing, let them know why that is interesting, and how they think they can contribute to the research 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; https://dornsife.usc.edu/bridge-institute/bugs) and wondered if you would have space in your lab and be willing to host me for this activity in 2023. [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 2023 BUGS Jr Program are due by April 30th 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 the student 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 conducted 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 30, 2023: (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 10, 2023: BUGS Jr Faculty/Mentor Contracts due via Qualtrics.

    Thursday, May 18, 2023: BUGS Jr Fellowship Award decisions made (internal activity at the Bridge Institute).

    Wednesday, May 24, 2023: Offers of provisional acceptance in the 2023 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
      (emailed to student on/before May 24th).
    • 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 19, 2023: BUGS Jr Summer Research Program begins.

    Friday, August 4 and Saturday, August 5, 2023: BUGS/BUGS Jr Summer Research Finale Symposium.

  • 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 and BUGS Jr. Programs)