Cascade Mentoring Program

Collaborative research among faculty and students is a critical element of the academic culture at Mount Holyoke, providing our students with outstanding mentoring and access to sophisticated scientific instrumentation and techniques that few undergraduates experience. The Cascade Mentoring program supports 9 rising sophomore and 6 rising junior or senior students organized in pairs or groups.

Each pair or group of students will work on a directed ten-week research project under the guidance of an individual member of the science faculty, including biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, neuroscience and behavior, mathematic, computer science, geology and environmental sciences. Working together, they will engage in an independent research project mentored by a science faculty member. Initially, the rising sophomore may assist the upper-class student with basic tasks in the laboratory or the field. The faculty advisor will work with both students to ensure that the research is progressing satisfactorily and that the rising sophomore is being mentored effectively. As the younger student gains confidence and experience in the lab, she will be expected to take on more research responsibilities. After eight weeks of work, each pair of students will give a presentation at Mount Holyoke’s annual Summer Science Symposium. Faculty advisors will also encourage students to present their research at appropriate local or regional scientific meetings.

During the winter, we will invite all science majors to meet with science faculty to discuss the kinds of research projects that can be undertaken. Special efforts will be made to recruit underrepresented students. Our program co-directors, Professor of Biology Craig Woodard and Associate Professor of Physics Janice Hudgings, will chair a faculty committee who will select six upper-class students based on their academic qualifications and proposed projects, and assign a faculty advisor to each.

We will advertise the program widely on campus so that all first-year students are made aware of this summer opportunity. We will enlist the support of faculty advisors and class deans to involve a diverse array of students. The faculty selection committee will choose the six first-years and assign each to a student mentor and faculty advisor.

The summer research program will begin with each pair of students working together under the supervision of their faculty advisor. Initially, the rising sophomore may assist the upper-class student with basic tasks in the laboratory or the field. The faculty advisor will work with both students to ensure that the research is progressing satisfactorily and that the rising sophomore is being mentored effectively. As the younger student gains confidence and experience in the lab, she will be expected to take on more research responsibilities. After eight weeks of work, each pair of students will give a presentation at Mount Holyoke’s annual Summer Science Symposium. Faculty advisors will also encourage students to present their research at appropriate local or regional scientific meetings. We expect that most of the rising seniors will continue their research as thesis projects, and that most of the rising sophomores will declare science majors.

Each student receive a stipend* and in addition the program pays a housing cost at the current MHC housing cost level. Tentatively, the program will run from June1 through Aug. 8. Depending on housing availability the program may start a few days later. You and your faculty adviser have the option of extending it for two more weeks.

*Please ask your tax advisor; your stipend may be taxable.

Before Applying Online

  • Current first-years, sophomores, and juniors applying for the program should have their proposed faculty member submit supporting letters of recommendation. Please have ready an email address of the faculty or staff member who will write the recommendation, and please ask them for the recommendation letter at least two weeks prior to the deadline.
  • First-year students: Have ready a list of science courses that you have taken at Mount Holyoke, and add any other science courses you have taken, including Mount Holyoke classes for which you received Mount Holyoke credit (AP classes, IB classes, transfer classes, etc.) Provide the letter grade you received in each class.
  • All students: In 100 characters or less, prepare a title of your research project (First-year students, state the area of your interest).
  • All students: In 50 words or less, prepare a brief abstract of your research project.
  • First-year students: In 500 words or less, discuss why you would like to participate in this summer training program. Be sure to describe the preparation, background, and motivation that you have for this program. How will this opportunity affect your education at Mount Holyoke, and what impact do you think it will have on your life after Mount Holyoke? Your essay should be no longer than 500 words (you may copy and paste the text from any text editor). Please state in the first line of your proposal that you are applying to the Cascade Mentoring Program. The list of research interest must be included in the 500 word essay.
  • Sophomores and juniors: In 500 words or less, describe your proposed research. At a minimum, you should introduce the problem, discuss its scientific relevance, state the hypotheses to be tested, and provide a sketch of the methods that you will use to test your hypothesis, name the faculty member with whom the project will be done and describe the motivation for participating. Address whether or not you expect to continue this research during the coming year, and how you expect this summer research experience to influence your postgraduate career. Your essay should be no longer than 500 words (you may copy and paste the text from any text editor). Please state in the first line of your proposal that you are applying to the Cascade Mentoring Program.

To Apply

To apply to this program, answer YES in the box labeled "Are you applying to the HHMI program?" on the The Lynk Universal Application Funding (UAF) Form posted on the Career Development Center website.

Due Date

Program is not available in this academic year.