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Aptamer lab

Program Overview

The College of Natural Sciences Summer High School Research Academy (HSRA) at the University of Texas at Austin integrates high school students into  College of Natural Sciences research groups so they can participate in ongoing research projects. The students will get to see how research works by being directly involved in research projects on the UT-Austin campus. They will learn advanced techniques while gaining valuable insights and experiences through interaction with UT students and faculty. This is a unique opportunity that will give high school students a real taste of life as a researcher. By being involved in research, students can experience the joy of discovery that is central to being a scientist.

Research Topics

We have a range of research opportunities covering many different branches of science, including astronomy, biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computational chemistry or biology, computer science, environmental science, genomics, materials science, molecular biology, and physics. Many participants will be placed in one of the Research Streams of the Freshman Research Initiative, while others will be placed in faculty research groups where the students will be integrated into the ongoing research projects. Each student will be placed in a research group based on their interests, availability, and space. Additional HSRA activities include seminars from researchers and visits to other UT-Austin research facilities.

Time Commitment

Each high school researcher is expected to spend a minimum of five weeks in their research program, and may be able to continue for up to a maximum of eleven weeks (for no additional fee), dependent on the time availability of the particular research group they have joined. Because different students will be working for different periods during the summer, we have scheduled three different final presentation dates (Monday July 8th, Friday July 26th, and Friday August 16th), so that all students have an opportunity to present their research work.

Each high school researcher will arrange specific work hours with the research group that they are placed in, but in general students should expect to work between 15-25 hours per week. Some research groups will be more flexible than others. Some students may have time to fit in other activities during the week, e.g., taking a community college course, or having a job, but the schedules in some research groups may not be able to accommodate this.

College Credit

There is an opportunity for student participants to earn college credit for their participation in the HSRA program. There will not be a math test requirement this year.  Students will be required to submit several assignments for grading, including a final report on their research work, to be eligible for course credit.





The HSRA is NOT a residential program. We do not provide housing or transportation for the participants. We will not be responsible for the students outside the time they are working in their research groups. To be eligible for participation in the HSRA, students need:

  • to be 15 years or older
  • to be either rising sophomore, junior, or senior for the upcoming 2019-20 academic year. Our preference is for rising juniors or seniors.
  • accomodation in Austin for the period of the camp
  • transportation to and from the UT Austin campus each day. Austin public transport is free with your high school picture ID, or with a UT ID card, that you may purchase for $10.
  • availability for five or more consecutive weeks to dedicate to conducting research over the summer, between the dates of June 3 - August 16, 2019. Note that most research groups are operating in June and July, with only a few staying open into August.  The more availability you indicate, the more likely it is that we can find a research group to match your schedule:


The HSRA Summer 2019 cost is $1,800 per student.  Scholarships are available. This fee covers administrative and material costs associated with the program.  Payment of the fee is not required until the student has been accepted into the program. There is no application fee. Students wishing to gain course credit for their research experience will need to pay an additional $125 at the same time that they pay the HSRA fee.

We are committed to providing this opportunity to a diverse range of high school students.  We have some paid internships and scholarships available to help defray the costs of the program.  To apply for a scholarship please send an email demonstrating financial need to Dr. Ruth Shear (utaustinhsra@gmail.com).

How to Apply

The HSRA Application process has three separate components:

  1. The online HSRA application form
  2. One teacher recommendation is required per applicant, using this HSRA Teacher Recommendation form
  3. A form combining Liability release, Medical authorization, Consent for participation in data gathering, and Photo release must be signed by your parent or guardian, using an online system called Docusign.  This form is currently available in English. The Spanish version will be linked here soon.

Selections will start with applications received by 11:59 pm, April 1, 2019. The application will be kept open to accept late applicants for another week, or until all positions are filled.

The first round of offers of placement in our program will be sent out by email by the end of the week of April 22-26th. We anticipate that some offers will be turned down by people who have got into other programs, and so follow up offers will continue for multiple weeks after that.


For questions, please contact Dr. Ruth Shear: utaustinhsra@gmail.com.