CoB-KIBM Scholars Program

Meet the team:

Colors of the Brain, in collaboration with The Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind, have established a new summer undergraduate research program (CoB-KIBM Scholars) that will launch in Summer 2021. Our goals are to motivate, mentor and facilitate the transition of undergraduate students at UC San Diego that come from disadvantaged economic and social backgrounds, as well as students with disabilities, into Ph.D. programs with significant relevance to neuroscience. The CoB-KIBM Scholars Program consists of a paid ($5,000 stipend, housing included in this stipend), full-time research position across 10 weeks within a UC San Diego or Salk laboratory, along with mentorship and support for navigating academic research for the remainder of their undergraduate education. We highly encourage students with little or no research experience to apply.

Application Opens: January 2nd, 2021 (
Written Application Submission Deadline: March 16th, 2021
Program Dates: June 21st, 2021 – August 30th, 2021

Note: You must submit the “General Application” and “Undergraduate Students” application prior to the opportunity becoming available in the Academic Works Portal.


Three CoB-KIBM scholars will be selected annually on a competitive basis. Students are eligible to apply if they:

  • Have at least a 2.5 GPA
  • Have demonstrable interest in pursuing research as a career.
  • Intend to apply to Ph.D. programs relevant to the neurosciences when appropriate.
  • Are a rising sophomore, junior, or senior enrolled at UC San Diego.
  • Are from one or more of the following groups:
    Racial and ethnic groups  underrepresented in the biomedical sciences (Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders); Individuals with disabilities; and Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
    Please visit the NIH’s Interest in Diversity guidelines for more information.
  • Have little or no previous research experience. Preference will be given to applicants with no prior academic research experience.
  • Open to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and students that graduated from High School in the U.S. (includes students born abroad, undocumented, and/or current or past DACA recipients).

Selection Process:

Our selection process will consist of 3 phases:
1. Review of Written Statements: March 16th – March 29th, 2021
2. Interviews: March 30th – April 7th, 2021
3. Notification of Award: April 15th, 2021

Application Components:

Written Statements:

  • Prospective fellows will be required to submit three statements: a personal statement, a research interest statement, and a short answer prompt (all with a 500 word limit). 
    • From the personal statement, we hope to get a sense of what drives and motivates your passion for neuroscience research. To that end, writing about how your interest in the field developed can be insightful. In addition, please feel free to take this opportunity to discuss both the ups and downs of your path into scientific research or any perceived shortcomings in your application.
    • For the research interest statement, describe the type of neuroscience research you would like to pursue. As appropriate for you, contextualize these goals in terms of your past accomplishments, course work, life experience, and/or the environment at UC San Diego.
    • In addition, please answer the following short answer prompt: Please describe how financial support from the CoB-KIBM program would significantly enhance your ability to participate in research.


  • We will select 5-10 students for in-person or virtual interviews. These interviews will serve as an opportunity for the Colors of the Brain graduate mentors to gain insight into applicants’ interests and commitment to a research career.

Notification of Award:

  • On April 15th, 2021, we will notify the 3 applicants that are chosen to be part of the inaugural CoB-KIBM Program. Selected applicants will have 2 weeks to accept the offer.

Program Expectations for Scholars:

  • Scholars must participate full-time in research and attend all program-related activities during the 10-week program. 
  • Scholars cannot be employed or be taking classes during the 10-week research period.
  • Scholars must present their research in the form of a scientific poster or talk at a research symposium.
  • Scholars must submit a 2-page written report on their research topic and any progress made by the end of the 10-week research period.
  • Scholars must be prepared to give a short 5 minute “elevator pitch” style talk on their research by the end of the 10-week research period.


  • Each scholar will be provided a $5,000 stipend for the entire 10-week research period. Housing costs are included with this stipend. CoB Graduate Mentors will be available to assist students with finding off-campus housing.
  • Each scholar will be paired with a Faculty Mentor for the duration of the 10-week research period. These Faculty Mentors will be pre-selected by the Colors of the Brain graduate mentors to ensure they can provide a constructive and positive research environment.
  • Each scholar will be paired with 3 Colors of the Brain Graduate Student Mentors. Graduate Mentors will span a variety of fields within the brain sciences and from different stages of their graduate careers.
  • Scholars will attend a series of workshops on scientific writing, research, and applying to graduate school. 
    • Examples of workshops: How to Read a Research Paper; Basic Computational Methods; How to Make a Scientific Research Poster; How to Write about your Research; Applying to Paid Research Opportunities for Undergraduates; Careers in STEM Panel. 
  • The program will provide social and community building events throughout the Summer. Scholars will continue to receive academic support and mentorship from Colors of the Brain throughout the remainder of their undergraduate education. 
  • Opportunities to practice science communication skills by presenting at a Summer research symposium.
  • Assistance will be given to KIBM-CoB scholars in their future applications for other individual research fellowships at UC San Diego

Faculty Mentor Expectations:

The goal for the CoB-KIBM Program is to provide undergraduates from historically underrepresented backgrounds a positive and fruitful research experience to demonstrate how a career in science is not only possible, but also highly rewarding. Therefore, the Colors of the Brain graduate mentors have curated a list of potential Faculty Mentors for the CoB-KIBM scholars to select from. Selection of Faculty Mentors is based on their demonstrable commitment to train historically underrepresented students in neuroscience. Faculty mentors will abide by the following expectations:

Expectations for faculty that take on one of the CoB-KIBM scholars include hands-on scientific training for the student on topics such as experimental planning, data collection, data interpretation, and science communication. Faculty are also expected to provide this scientific training in a manner conducive to increasing the student’s self-confidence on their potential as a successful neuroscientist. This scientific training should be conducted with consideration to the student’s academic and career aspirations, as well as to the lab’s areas of specialty. CoB-KIBM scholars are expected to conduct research 40 hours a week, and therefore faculty mentors must be prepared to have enough things ready for them to do as soon as the 10-week research training period begins. Faculty are expected to have a scientific project in mind when accepting a CoB-KIBM scholart, such that by the end of the 10-week research period, the student will have enough of an understanding on the project to present any results to the general scientific community. To aid students’ understanding of the project, faculty mentors are encouraged to provide a set of relevant articles or references to the student before the start of the 10-week research period, and are required to supervise the completion of a scientific poster that the student will present at the end of the 10-week training period. If appropriate, training on scientific techniques can be delegated to other members of the lab, but clear lines of communication must always exist between the CoB-KIBM scholar and the faculty mentor. To ensure clear communication and accountability for both student and faculty expectations, faculty mentors are expected to meet 1-on-1 (or in a group setting with any other lab supervisors) with the CoB-KIBM scholar a minimum of 3 times throughout the 10-week research period. In addition, faculty are expected to promote an inclusive environment for the student, namely by integrating them into their lab’s professional and social culture through lab meetings, journal clubs, and lab socials. Importantly, faculty mentors are expected to be a continued source of professional support for the student beyond the 10-week research period by providing a letter of recommendation on the student’s summer contributions to their lab, which will be key for any of their future applications for paid undergraduate research opportunities.