Research Mentors

Overall Responsibilities

Research Mentors support the STAR Program and each STAR Fellow by:

  1. Sponsoring a STAR Fellow as a research intern in their laboratory for the duration of the Program;
  2. Mentoring Fellows and supporting their professional development as researchers who also teach and who will be passing on the research culture norms and expectations to their students;
  3. Advising Fellows on their research presentation;
  4. Attending on-site presentations (also encouraged to attend closing research conference);
  5. Considering maintaining contact with STAR Fellows as they continue their teacher-researcher career, including the possibility of sponsoring the same or other STAR Fellows in the future.

Program Goals

STAR Fellows typically have training and/or experiences shaped by their future teaching plans, but as STEM professionals, their summer focus is research. Each Fellow is seeking the challenge of fully integrating into a research team and working on an authentic piece of research to more fully understand the nature of science and research/engineering practices so that they can be more effective teachers passing on those skills to their students. STAR has three primary goals which shape their research experience.

  • Increase RECRUITMENT of high-quality science, mathematics, and engineering majors into teaching by attracting outstanding STEM majors, increasing the prestige of teaching as a professional STEM career, and engaging leading laboratories as partners in providing outstanding research opportunities.
  • Improve STEM teacher PREPARATION AND DEVELOPMENT by promoting a deeper and directly research-based understanding of scientific and engineering practices through summer lab experiences.
  • Increase STEM teacher RETENTION by building a teacher-researcher community strongly connected to the community of scientific practice through creation of teacher-researchers and leaders.

Research Goals

Research Mentors will work closely with their Lab Site Coordinator to identify a research project suitable for the nine-week program period and select one or more Applicants suitable for the work. Research Mentors are encouraged to communicate with prospective and placed Fellows. It is especially helpful if Mentors email one or two key publications to Fellows which they can use to 'get up to speed' with the primary focus of the research group (Reviews often work well). Particulars differ from lab site to lab site, but Lab Site coordinators will usually be responsible for site access and orientation requirements while Research Mentors must ensure that Fellows receive an orientation to their particular lab and project at the start of the Program. Fellows are there to work 35 hours per week, with an additional 3-5 hours dedicated to the education workshop (typically on a Thursday or Friday afternoon). Workshop Leaders are in charge of the education workshop content and Research Mentors are encouraged to connect with them if they have the time and interest to share their skills and experiences with the cohort located at their site as they discuss:

  1. Nature of STEM - How STEM research actually works
  2. Nature of STEM - Becoming a researcher and the diversity of research careers and skills needed on research teams
  3. K12 STEM education - Next Generation Science Standards cross-cutting themes and practices (they are entirely based on research)
  4. K12 STEM education - Research-learning environments
  5. STEM communication - Research products (oral and poster presentations)
  6. STEM communication - Teaching products (lesson plans based on each Fellow's research)
  7. Professional development - Getting a teaching job and setting yourself up for success in a school
  8. Professional development - Staying connected to research and being a scientific teacher

Research Products

In addition to their work on your research project, each STAR Fellow must submit two products based on that work. The first product is a research presentation. First-time participants will produce a research poster (poster requirements) while Program alumni may produce an oral presentation instead (oral presentation requirements). These presentations will be made publicly available at the Cal Poly Digital Commons. Over a thousand STAR poster downloads occur monthly so it is important that the information accurately reflects Lab Site requirements for public disclosure and co-author involvement. The second product is a lesson plan which is based on the Fellow's particular research project and aligned with Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Science and Math Standards. The lesson plan is developed under the guidance of the Workshop Leaders.


Working with Lab Site Coordinators and Workshop Leaders

Research Mentors will frequently work with Lab Site Coordinators who will, in turn, provide a lot of the connectivity to the STAR Program staff and Workshop Leaders as required. Workshop Leaders spend a lot of time in one-on-one interactions with STAR Fellows and the Lab Site Coordinators are the most knowledgeable and authoritative support for Research Mentors at each research location. The STAR program relies on close cooperation between Lab Site Coordinators and Research Mentors. The STAR Program is directed by fellow researchers who value the essential skills and efforts contributed by Research Mentors and welcome their input via email ( or telephone at any time.



STAR Fellows receive $500/week Fellowship stipends during their participation. Many also qualify for housing and relocation support of up to $2250. Our Lab Site partners provide in-kind support with safety/research training, project supplies, and other considerations which differ from lab site to lab site. This project to reform STEM education to more faithfully reflect modern research practices and training is possible only through our Funding Partners coordinated by the Cal Poly Center for Engineering, Science and Mathematics Education (CESAME) which runs STAR. Our continued fundind depends upon the teaching and research outputs of our Fellows and Partners in what we intend to be a mutually beneficial relationship. If Research Mentors have a presentation, publication, or grant which has benefitted from STAR Fellow efforts, the Program would very much appreciate hearing of it so that we can continue to provide this high-impact partnership program.


STAR Conference Travel

Research Mentors are very warmly invited to join us for the Research Conference, where STAR Fellows present their work in poster and oral presentations. It's a great opportunity to meet other mentors and appreciate what your mentorship has made possible. Your work is essential to the success of our Fellows and we'd like to help you support their presentation in whatever fashion we can. Travel arrangements to attend the Research Conference can be facilitated by the STAR Program Staff, but we do not have sufficient funds allocated for all mentors to attend. If you wish to attend, please register online prior to September 1, 2017, even if you don't need travel assistance, to ensure that we have your registration materials properly prepared for you.


Just for Fun Photos

Many STAR Fellow projects produce some gorgeous graphs and delicious videos and every project involves a lot of great people. We'd like to share a bit of your STAR summer at the closing conference. To do that we invite everyone involved in STAR to submit photos and/or videos of their summer experience online. We'll share a selection (as many as we can really) in the Research Conference program and presentations. This is completely voluntary. Don't wait until the end, upload whenever you get something you like (you can submit as many times as you like).