The Young Researchers Program is dedicated to serving the local USC neighborhood by providing rising high school seniors a unique summer research opportunity. Through mentored research experiences, YRP aims to increase interest in STEM fields among students traditionally underrepresented in STEM, as well as encourage our students to attend college and pursue careers in the sciences. By doing so, we hope to create a network for previous participants to support each other as they pursue their future careers.
The USC Young Researchers Program was the brainchild of Earth Sciences graduate students Laurie Chong and Carie Frantz. YRP was developed under the guidance of Professor Will Berelson in the fall of 2008 as a way to bring local high school students, especially students of disadvantaged and traditionally underrepresented households, to USC and experience research first-hand. The inaugural year of the program (summer of 2009) included seven students from two USC-neighborhood schools working in six different labs in the Earth Sciences and Marine & Environmental Biology Departments. After presenting their research posters at the end of the six weeks to family, friends, teachers, USC students and professors, students reported that the program made them feel confident in their abilities to attend college. Over the past 14 years, YRP has hosted over 100 outstanding high school students. We continue to expand our program as students express their interests and needs over the years.
We, the coordinators of the Young Researchers Program, recognize the systemic racism that leads to the under-representation of Black and Brown voices in academia and in the STEM fields. We recognize that systemic racism permeates across all societal institutions, including ones that are tasked to protect and serve our communities. This leads to dire and enduring injustices for our Black and Brown neighbors. YRP supports the Black Lives Matter movement in the US and similar movements around the world. We join these movements to demand the dismantling and reform of all societal institutions that have ingrained cultures of racism and discrimination. Black and Brown lives are invaluable and must be treated as such.