The Young Researchers Program is a six-week summer program where motivated rising high school seniors conduct scientific research at the University of Southern California. Students experience hands-on university-level research projects while attending weekly workshops that provide fundamental knowledge about college applications and pursuing careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.

Our Mission

The Young Researchers Program is dedicated to serving the local USC neighborhood by providing rising high school seniors a unique summer research opportunity. Through mentored research experiences, YRP aims to increase interest in STEM fields among students traditionally underrepresented in STEM, as well as encourage our students to attend college and pursue careers in the sciences. By doing so, we hope to create a network for previous participants to support each other as they pursue their future careers.

Mentored Research Experience

Each student is paired with their own graduate mentor for the summer to complete a research project in the mentor’s specialty. At the end of the summer, students present their project results as a poster in a public symposium (open to friends and family!).

Weekly Lunch Seminars

Every week, students attend a seminar on different topics designed to help them apply to college, find scholarships, become a successful college student, and identify career options in STEM fields. (Lunch is provided.)

Field Trips

We spend a day at Catalina Island learning about Earth and environmental science, hiking, and snorkeling (no swimming experience is required). We also tour NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory!

Our Team

We are a group of USC PhD students who work together to coordinate the Young Researchers Program.

Layla Vasquez

Program Director

PhD Candidate in Neuroscience

Gaon Kim

Seminar Coordinator

PhD Student in Neuroscience

Karel Aceituno

Student Recruitment

PhD Student in Neuroscience

Hailey Adney

Mentor Coordinator

PhD Student in Neuroscience

Rebecca Stark


PhD Candidate in Neuroscience

Phil Kong

Mentor Recruitment

PhD Candidate in Earth Science

Inessa Chandra

Student Recruitment

PhD Candidate in Biomedical and Biological Sciences

Alisha Cayce

Seminar Coordinator

PhD Student in Neuroscience

Isabelle Young

Student Recruitment 

PhD Student in Neuroscience

Contact Us

YRP Team