We are training the next generation of students to surmount disciplinary boundaries as they work to better understand the human body, molecule by molecule. We have collected the most commonly asked questions about the BUGS Program and have answered them here.

  • A paid in-person summer research program that not only grants undergraduate students hands-on experience in a collaborative research environment, but also facilitates the growth of the next generation of scientists seeking to improve the human condition.

  • BUGS is the abbreviation for Bridge UnderGraduate Science [BUGS page]. BUGS Jr. refers to the concurrent high school student program that runs alongside the BUGS program each summer [BUGS Jr page]. In short, BUGS = Undergraduates and BUGS Jr. = High school students.

  • A PI stands for Principal Investigator. This term typically refers to the holder of an independent grant and the lead researcher on a scientific research project. We use PI and Faculty Mentor interchangeably when it comes to the BUGS Summer Research Program.



  • Please only apply if you meet the following criteria:

    1. You are available for the entirety of the program (May 20 – August 3, 2024).
    2. You are available to attend each of the mandatory weekly activities (~90 minutes, 1 morning/week at Michelson Hall).
    3. Your project must be related to the improvement of our understanding of the human body/human health.
    4. You are a continuing student in the upcoming semester.
    5. You agree to commit at least 10 weeks of full-time (± 30 hours/week) research.
    6. You find a PI/Faculty Mentor who agrees to have you in their lab over the summer.
    7. You are able to attend and participate in the Finale Symposium on the first Friday and Saturday of August.
  • The first step—before even starting the application process—is to find a lab who will agree to have you work with them over the summer. (see next section)

    The second step—please apply for funding to USC Fellowships. These may include the Provost Fellowship, WiSE, and SURF.

    The third step—once there is a mutual understanding between you and your PI about your project, your hours, length of stay, etc., you may now apply for BUGS!

    Before you proceed with submitting your application, please again be sure you meet all the requirements, you have a PI/Faculty mentor that has agreed to have you in their lab over the summer, and you have developed a research proposal. There is a Research Proposal template download link on the main BUGS page under “How to Apply,” but here it is for your convenience as well:

    2024 Summer Research Project Proposal.

    The fourth (and final) step—once you submit your application, please be patient on receiving a status update regarding your acceptance into the BUGS Summer Research Program.

  • 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 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 them and find out if they have openings in their lab over the summer – 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). The Bridge Institute does not assist in finding a lab for you to work with over the summer.

  • Application portal opens: Tuesday, February 20, 2024

    Applications due: Sunday, April 14, 2024

    Provisional Acceptances emailed: Monday, May 6, 2024

    Program begins: Monday, May 20, 2024

    Program ends: Finale Symposium – Saturday, August 3, 2024

    Once you submit your completed application, here’s what happens:

    1. When the application period has closed (April 14, 2024), we contact the PI/Faculty mentor you listed in your application and confirm with them that they have accepted you to work in their laboratory for the summer, and send them a mentorship contract for them to complete and return (by April 24, 2024).
    2. Receipt of any USC fellowship awards to support your research are verified.
    3. All applications are evaluated for recognition/funding by the Trudi Berwin Student Support Fund (Trudi Berwin Scholars Program), the Dang Family Endowed Undergraduate Research Fund (Dang Family Scholar Program), and other fellowship sources administered by the Bridge Institute.
    4. Once the PI/Faculty mentor has returned the signed contract, and stipend funding has been verified, you will be notified (beginning Monday, April 26, 2024) of your provisional acceptance into the 2024 BUGS Program. The student contract is sent to you at that time to review, sign and return (by Friday, May 17, 2024).

    May 20th, 2024: The Annual BUGS Program Summer Research Program commences.



  • The contract that is sent to your PI/Faculty Mentor has TWO options for them to select from: (1) they agree that if you do not receive funding from a separate USC or Bridge-administered fellowship, they will support half of your stipend from their funds ($1500 of $3000 total, with the Bridge Institute supporting the other half), or (2) they will not (or cannot) support half your stipend, and your acceptance into the BUGS program is conditional upon your receipt of a separate USC (or Bridge-administered) fellowship to support the entire stipend.

    There are a few ways to receive your stipend:

    USC FELLOWSHIPS – We strongly encourage you to apply to the ProvostWiSE, or SURF programs as the funding from any of these fellowships may cover part or all of your stipend (and increase your chances of being accepted in the BUGS program). These awards helps us stretch our funding (from the Bridge Institute) to support as many students as possible (especially those who were unable to receive separate USC fellowship funding).

    NOTE: Keep in mind that if you are awarded a USC fellowships (Provost, WiSE, or SURF) for $3000 or more, you will not receive additional funding for participating in the BUGS program. However, you will be able to list both the fellowship award and BUGS programs on your CVs for future scholarship/admissions/job applications.

    PI/FACULTY MENTOR – As indicated above, your PI/Faculty Mentors may agree to support half of your total stipend ($1,500) while the Bridge Institute covers the other half for a total of $3,000.

    BRIDGE INSITUTUE ADMINISTERED FELLOWSHIPS – All applications to the BUGS Summer Research Program are considered for funding (or recognition) through the Trudi Berwin Student Support Award, Dang Family Endowed Undergraduate Research Award, and/or other fellowship funds that are managed through the Bridge Institute.

  • As noted above, unfortunately, this answer is ‘NO’. If your fellowship award is for less than the minimum set by the BUGS program ($3000), the Bridge Institute will supplement your award to that level. However, as we would like to provide research opportunities to as many undergraduate students from various levels of experience as possible, we do not award the BUGS program stipend to undergraduate students who were awarded a concurrent USC Fellowship of $3000 (or more). You will find that many of the USC Fellowships have stipulations that preclude concurrent fellowship awards as we all try to utilize our available funding to impact the broadest pool of candidates possible.

    For this reason, we highly encourage all of our applicants to apply to USC Fellowships— and if awarded— to concurrently participate in the BUGS Summer Research Program.



  • Yes! So long as (1) you find a USC PI/Faculty Mentor to host you AND (2) you are available to participate in the research and programmatic activities in-person (virtual/on-line projects are not supported in the 2024 BUGS Summer Research Program) for the dates/duration of our summer program. We welcome participation of undergraduates from other colleges or universities, but understand this may have challenges due to differing academic calendars. Because you would not be eligible for a USC undergraduate fellowship award, your host PI/Faculty Mentor would have to be willing to support half of your stipend for you to be accepted into the program, or you would have to be selected to receive funding from one of the Bridge Institute administered fellowship sources. Also keep in mind, the BUGS program does not provide transportation or housing for non-USC/non-local students; nor do we provide VISA sponsorship to interested students from outside of the US.

  • Since high school graduation dates typically occur after the BUGS Program has already commenced and you have yet to begin your undergraduate career, Spring 2024 high school graduates should continue to apply to the BUGS Jr. Program [BUGS Jr website].

  • Unfortunately, no. You will be considered ineligible to apply to the BUGS Program. Only continuing undergraduate students may apply to the BUGS Program.