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The Junior Scientist Internship by BioBus - Should You Apply?

If you’re from a historically underrepresented community and interested in STEM, chances are you’ve found it more difficult to break into this field. Ethnic minorities, women, and people from low-income households are significantly underrepresented in STEM: in the U.S. alone, the STEM workforce is two-thirds white and only a third are women.


Today, an increasing number of programs are attempting to reduce these disparities by introducing STEM to young learners from these underrepresented communities. One such organization is BioBus, which introduces STEM through mobile labs in low-income neighborhoods of New York City. If you’re interested in serving underrepresented communities and working in STEM through the summer, then the BioBus Junior Scientist Internship program could be a sound opportunity to do valuable community work and demonstrate interest in a subject on your college application!


What is BioBus?

BioBus is a mobile science laboratory equipped with the latest technologies to introduce K-12 students in New York City’s public and charter schools to biology and science research. The BioBus mobile lab primarily serves the Lower East Side, the Bronx, and Harlem. It has also reached schools in New England and California, and even in Rwanda, Jordan, and Egypt, touching 350,000 students globally. BioBus offers summer programs, weekend activities, and internship opportunities for students of different ages.


What is the BioBus Junior Scientist program all about?

The Junior Scientist program is open to New York City high school and college students who want to conduct independent research while simultaneously introducing K-12 students to biology. As a BioBus Jr. Scientist, you likely belong to a historically underrepresented group in STEM and/or come from a low-income household. During the program, you will receive training and mentorship from an experienced research scientist and develop important skills like research communication and gain lab experience. The program runs through the academic year; you must be available on pre-determined days to assist research scientists aboard the mobile lab.


BioBus offers three distinct Jr. Scientist programs depending on where you live and gender identity: 


  • The Lower East Side Junior Scientist Internship is for students who live in/ go to school in the Lower East Side

  • The Women In STEM Junior Scientist Internship is for students who identify as female, non-binary, or gender non-conforming and live/ go to school in Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood

  • The Harlem Junior Scientist Internship for all students in New York City



Is the program paid?

Yes! Interns earn $16.50/hr. 


Is the program prestigious?

The Jr. Scientist program is moderately selective and prestigious. While the selectivity criteria (only NYC residents who belong to certain groups) limits the number of students who can apply, interns earn $16.50/hr during the internship.   


Who can apply for the program?

The BioBus Jr. Scientist program gives preference to students from historically excluded/ economically disadvantaged backgrounds. To apply, you must meet the following criteria:


  • Be in grade 9,10, or 11

  • Live/ go to school in NYC, specifically in the Lower East Side or Chinatown (for the Lower East Side internship), and Harlem, Washington Heights, or Inwood (for the Women In STEM internship


BioBus does not consider grades in the selection process — you only need to demonstrate your interest in STEM and passion for working in communities!


What is the application deadline?

The deadline for the 2024 cohort has passed. Based on previous years, applications for 2025 will shut on March 1, 2025.


How is the internship structured?

The program is part research, part internship. You pursue an independent project under the guidance of BioBus scientists and also help plan and execute teaching and other outreach events. Your exact experience depends on which internship opportunity you opt for:


  • The Lower East Side internship includes a full-time summer research component (40 hours/week) that lasts five weeks. During the school year, you must be available from 4-6 p.m. two days a week.

  • The Women In STEM internship requires a commitment of one day/week from 4-6 p.m. during the school year.

  • The Harlem Junior Scientist internship includes a full-time summer research component (40 hours/week) for five weeks. You must be available from 4 - 6:30 p.m. for up to twice a week during the school year.



What kind of research do BioBus interns do? 

BioBus interns conduct a variety of group and solo research projects in the natural sciences. Previous projects by interns include air quality disparities in different NYC neighborhoods, using oyster mushroom spawn to decrease plastic and lead pollution in the soil, exploring noise pollution on organisms, 3D printing hydroponic systems, the effects of microplastics in water, detecting avian influenza in NYC, studying the relationship between snails and algae, and much more! You can view previous cohorts’ research projects here.   


What are the pros and cons of the program?

Pros:

  1. You get to conduct research and are guided by a mentor As a BioBus intern, you get access to research-grade equipment to explore a research question under the guidance of a BioBus research scientist. A research project would be a great addition to your profile when applying to college, showing demonstrated interest in a subject!

  2. You can work with local communities The BioBus lab makes STEM, especially biology, more accessible to K-12 learners from disadvantaged/underrepresented backgrounds and communities. You would play an important role in conducting outreach and introducing young students to science.

  3. You get paid a stipend BioBus pays interns $16.50/ hour, which can amount to over $1,600 throughout the entire internship.

  4.  You only have to show your interest to get selected BioBus does not consider students’ grades during the selection process and gives preference to students with limited exposure to STEM. You only need to demonstrate your passion for learning to become part of the program.


Cons:

  1. You can only apply if you live in New York City The BioBus internship is open only to NYC residents/students who come from disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds. Furthermore, the Lower East Side and Women in STEM internships are only open to students from particular neighborhoods.


Our review — should you apply for the program?

If you’re a New York City high school student interested in biology, the BioBus Junior Scientist internship is a great option to undertake research, conduct STEM outreach in local communities, and earn a stipend! BioBus does not consider your grades when you apply and, if successful, you will have a research project to add to your portfolio at the end of your internship! The only potential downside is that the program is limited to New York City students, which limits the number of eligible candidates.




If you’re a high school student interested in conducting research, you may want to consider the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here. You can also reach out to us at contact@lumiere.education to know more, or to have a chat about possible collaborations!


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!



Kieran Lobo is a freelance writer from India, who currently teaches English in Spain. 



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