Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the goal of the SOLAR program?

Our goal is to provide underrepresented minority students interested in careers in biomolecular research with an opportunity to carry out independent research projects under the guidance of a UNC faculty mentor. This intense summer research experience will introduce you to cutting-edge research and will provide you with a realistic view of graduate school and biomedical research careers. You will be immersed in the research process, including the design of a research project, methods for conducting controlled experiments, data collection, data analysis, and team-work. We will help you develop strong scientific communication skills and you will have the opportunity to present your work in the REU Symposium at the end of the summer.

How many summer scholars are accepted each year?

This summer we anticipate having funding for 12 students in the SOLAR program.  We invite applicants from universities across the United States. Go to https://www.med.unc.edu/tibbs/SOLAR/2009-solar-alumni to see alumni from the summer of 2009.

What are the dates for summer 2014?

The dates for SOLAR 2014 are May 18th through July 25th.

Do I choose what lab I work in?

In your personal statement we ask that you identify what fields of science interest you the most and using that information as a guide we will choose a lab for you based on a variety of issues such as which labs have space and funding and which labs can provide superior training and mentoring.

Where will I live during the program?

The Program has arranged housing in Ram Village (http://housing.unc.edu/community/ram-village/index.html), a dormitory located on campus.

Do I need a car?

No, Chapel Hill has an extensive and free public transportation service. Maps of all bus routes in Chapel Hill and real-time information about arrival at specific sites are available at http://www.ci.chapel-hill.nc.us/index.asp?NID=397Parking at Rams Village is available at a cost of $2.25/ day during the summer. Parking expenses are the responsibility of individual scholars.

Is travel to and from UNC provided?

If you are traveling by plane to UNC we have limited funds to cover your airfare to and from UNC.  You can also check with your home institution to see if they can sponsor your travel costs.

Do I receive a stipend?

You will receive a $4200 stipend for the ten-week period. This will be paid in two installments - 50% during your first week and the remainder during your last week.  Housing is also provided on campus at no cost to you.

What do I do in case of a health emergency?

Students who need to see a physician will need to go to the North Carolina Memorial Hospital Clinics or Emergency room, or to one of the small, minor emergency clinics located near the town. SOLAR students are not eligible to use the UNC-CH Student Health Services, and we do not provide any type of health insurance for program participants. Therefore, be sure that you have current health insurance before you arrive and that you bring your insurance I.D. card with you.

Do I need to bring my own computer?

We recommend that you bring a computer with you, preferably a laptop. While you will have access to computers in the labs, you will often find that you need access to a computer in the evening when you are preparing for journal clubs and lab talks. Many journal articles are available on campus only through an electronic interface.

Will I need a UNC ID?

It is mandatory that you sign up for a UNC One-Card. This picture identification card provides you with access to many University services, including the libraries, and in some cases in necessary to gain entrance to campus buildings.

Will I have access to any athletic facilities?

For a small fee you can purchase a gym pass that gives you access to campus fitness centers, fitness classes, gyms, pools, courts, climbing walls, etc.

What is the weather like in Chapel Hill?

Chapel Hill's summers are hot (average temperature 85-95 degrees) and humid. All buildings are air-conditioned to about 75 degrees so, if you find air-conditioning a bit chilly, a lightweight sweater will be a good backup. Most everyone dresses very informally. There is one planned activity for which you will want to dress nicely, i.e., the presentations at the end of the program.

Can you tell me a little more about UNC?

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation's first public university, is the largest of the 16 campuses in the UNC system and its flagship research institution. Currently, the Chapel Hill campus ranks 12th in the nation in funding from the National Institutes of Health. In addition to the College of Arts and Sciences, the campus is also home to the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, the North Carolina Memorial Hospital, the School of Public Health, the School of Dentistry, and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Approximately 25,000 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students are enrolled; several thousand students attend summer classes as well. The campus has a 200-year history, blending the old and the new among its many tree-lined quadrangles and gardens. Other campus attractions include the Dean E. Smith sports complex, home of the 2005 and 2009 NCAA National Champion Men's Basketball team, the Ackland Art Museum, and the Morehead Planetarium, at which the Apollo astronauts trained in celestial navigation.

Who can I contact if I still have questions?

Please contact:

Dr. Jessica Harrell, SOLAR Director

Office of Graduate Education, School of Medicine
CB# 7108, 1121 Bioinformatics Building.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7108

919 843-1570 (office)