SpHERES  is a dynamic research program for Champaign-Urbana high school students interested in pursuing higher education.

SpHERES is supported by the National Science Foundation’s Science and Technology Center for Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems (EBICS) and co-hosted by the Carle Illinois College of Medicine and the Department of Bioengineering.

In 2021, each participating laboratory will host two SpHERES students who will work together virtually under the mentorship and guidance of a research faculty member, graduate student mentors, and an undergraduate who is part of the EBICS Research Experience for Undergraduates program. Multiple layers of mentoring will provide students with a richer, more fulfilling research experience. The program will be fully remote.

SpHERES is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering Program, which partners with engineering departments across campus to share programming and broaden the experiences for participants.

The 2021 SpHERES Program  

Program Dates and Eligibility Requirements

  • June 14 through July 30, 2021
  • Rising juniors & seniors from Champaign-Urbana community school districts
  • Underrepresented group

Program Goals

  • Introduce students to scientific research and promote career opportunities
  • Help students gain knowledge in a variety of science applications
  • Help students gain an understanding of science and its local and global impact

Student Benefits

  • Work (remotely) in a cutting-edge research laboratory
  • Pursue higher education goals
  • Build your resume
  • Get a taste of college life
  • Gain professional development skills
  • $2,000 summer stipend!  

Summer 2022 under construction

As a SpHERES student, you will:

  • Participate in an authentic research experience at a world-class research university using methods to make learning virtually come to life.
  • Participate in weekly seminars on various topics including research projects, college readiness, and scientific communication.
  • Become acclimated to a university setting, form a science identity by conducting basic and applied research in labs, and gain confidence in attending college.
  • Receive multiple layers of mentorship, through faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate REU students.

What does a remote research program involve?

During the program, SpHERES students will work in teams of two alongside one student from the EBICS REU program.  They will meet virtually on a daily basis with their graduate mentor to discuss the research topic and plans for the day. Various online activities will be planned to expose students to research practices, college life and professional development. All students will be required to present their research findings at the end of the summer at a final virtual research symposium.

What is the difference between the various summer high school programs? (SpHERES, POETS, GEnYuS)

All programs have the same goals and program structure. The difference is the research you will be doing in each program.

  • SpHERES: If you are interested in merging your biology and engineering interests, then the SPHERES program may be right for you!  Our laboratories come from Molecular and Integrative Physiology, Neuroscience, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Bioengineering and Micro & Nanotechnology Laboratory.
  • POETS: Their research is in the space of electrical engineering, computer engineering and mechanical engineering. We work on electric airplanes, electric cars and electric manufacturing equipment. If you are interested in circuits, hands-on projects, building, or programming then the POETS program is right for you. We also require all students to participate in a year-long program.
  • GEnYuS – This program focuses on physics research. If you are interested in dark matter, lasers, or materials, then the GEnYuS program may be right for you.

Regardless of the program in which you are interested, you will be applying through the same application system. In your essay, you can discuss which program you prefer to attend. Be sure to mention “SpHERES” if you would like to be considered for our summer high school program.


  • Two short essays that address the following:
    • Where do you see yourself 5-10 years from now / What would you like to be doing for a career? (100 words)
    • Please explain your interest in this program and describe how you have recently explored or developed this interest inside and/or outside the classroom. Describe the impact that this program will have on your future. (500 words max)
  • Include a brief introduction about yourself and your background
  • Discuss science interests and experiences

Check back for 2022 SpHERES announcements!


Contact us to learn more:
Dot Gordon

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