STAR Program

The Student Training in Approaches to Research (STAR) Program is an eight-week, research education program. Participants are fully engaged in research with the guidance of a research mentor of their choice.  Most students who enter the STAR program elect to continue their research involvement through the Research Honors program. Participation in the STAR program is a prerequisite to enrollment in Research Honors Program. (see Research Honors Program description).

Who is Eligible for STAR Program Participation
Eligible first year medical students, who will complete their first year of medical school the summer after they matriculated, may apply.

Who is Not Eligible for STAR Program Participation
Students participating in the ISI program are not eligible, due to the conflicting demands of these two programs. There may be a suitable ISI trip that does not conflict with STAR. Check with University Ministry.

Who is Eligible for STAR Scholar Funding
STAR scholars whose projects are selected through a competitive review will receive a scholarship (amount to be determined) for the eight week program.  Funding is restricted to students with research mentors at Loyola. Each research mentor is limited to two (2) STAR students. 

The STAR Program is fortunate to have two NIH-funded T35 Institutional Training Grants to support medical student research through the STAR program. Learn morePlease note that that your application/project does not have to fall into one of these two categories to be selected for STAR Scholar funding.

Students seeking funding as a STAR Scholar should submit their Letter of Intent via InfoReady here no later than 5PM CST December 4, 2023. The applications for the STAR program are due by 5PM CST on January 22, 2024 and will need be submitted via InfoReady when notified by Tina Rutschman.  Individuals that are selected to particpate in STAR will be notified by March 15, 2024.

Timeline for 2024 Program
The 2024 STAR program will begin on Tuesday, May 28, 2024 and end on Friday, July 19, 2024.

Program Requirements (do not apply if you cannot meet all requirements)
Successful completion of the STAR Program requires:

  1. Attendance at all eight STAR Seminars in person.
  2. Full-time engagement in research for the 8 weeks of the STAR Program.
  3. STAR participants must present their work at St. Albert’s Day, the campus-wide celebration of research, held each fall.
  4. In order to proceed with the summer STAR program, students must be in good standing their M1 year. 
  5. For completion of Research Honors, students must present their research at a St. Albert's Day Research Forum as an M3 OR M4. A national or regional conference does not take the place of this requirement. 

STAR Program Seminars
STAR Program participants are required to attend all 8 weekly STAR Seminar Series. Dates and times for the 2024 STAR Seminars will be made available in early spring. The seminars are held on Wednesday mornings from 8:00-9:00 a.m. from May 28, 2024 to July 19, 2024. (Holiday dates off: Wednesday, June 19th, Thursday, July 4th and Friday, July 5th). 

Planning Your STAR Application
It is important to plan STAR participation early. The following planning steps may be helpful:

  1. It is strongly recommended that potential applicants attend at least one STAR informational session during your first semester. These sessions will be announced and posted in the LUMEN weekly calendar.
  2. Visit the list of research mentors. Funding is restricted to research mentors at Loyola. A list of experienced research mentors who are willing to participate in the STAR program is available but is not limited to those listed.

Explore research opportunities with research mentors (those listed, as well as others who may be of interest to you). Do not be shy. Simply set up an appointment to meet with that research mentor. Typically this is done by e-mail or by calling their assistant. Explain that you want to discuss the STAR Summer Research Program. Do not feel obligated to sign up with the first mentor you meet. Find a good match. The mentor and student should work together to form the research project, but the student is responsible for writing the STAR application.

Things to discuss as you select a STAR research mentor include:

  • Expectations: What can I expect to take away from this research experience?
    • An understanding of scientific method/approach
    • Knowledge of specific experimental techniques and/or methods of collecting clinical data
    • Knowledge regarding methods of data entry and basic statistical analysis
    • An understanding of how to interpret and possibly apply experimental results
    • Experience in preparing abstracts, poster presentations and/or manuscripts
  • Team Science: Will I be working with them either directly or indirectly? Who else works in your lab or clinical area?
  • Flexibility: What is your level of flexibility with regard to time spent? (days off, time away, routine hours expected)
  • Opportunities: Upon completion of a days laboratory work, are other learning opportunities available?
  1. December 4, 2023:  Submit your letter of intent to commit (no later than 5PM CST).  This letter of intent must be acknowledged and approved by you and your mentor via InfoReady.
  2. January 22, 2024 (by 5PM CST):  Your STAR application will need to be submitted via InfoReady.  For questions, please contact Tina Rutschman.

Sample Applications

Application Review Criteria
A STAR Review Committee will assist in the review the applications. STAR applications are judged by scientific merit and the quality of the educational opportunity for the student. There is no preference for a particular type of research (basic vs. clinical). However, clinical retrospective chart reviews are often poorly prepared and applicants are encouraged to consider prospective studies whenever possible.  The application should clearly demonstrate the student’s research role and activities, as well as what can realistically be accomplished during the eight weeks.

STAR Equivalents
Students who are engaged in full-time research education programs outside Loyola may qualify as STAR-equivalent students, thus qualifying them to apply for the Research Honors Program.  The STAR-equivalent designation requires a full description of the program for pre-approval by Dr. Fitzgerald as well as a letter of verification from the research mentor that clarifies that the student had met the STAR-equivalent criteria above. STAR equivalent students are not eligible to apply for the STAR scholarship award. For the STAR Equivalent Letter of Intent, due on April 1, 2024, Click on: STAR Equivalency Letter (Outside Mentor).  

What to Do If I Don’t Get Funded
Because of the competitive nature of summer research programs, students are advised to consider submitting applications for other research education programs outside Loyola as well as STAR. A listing of these other programs may be available in the Student Affairs Office.

Frequently Asked Questions