Welcome to UNC's SOLAR Program


Do you want to spend the summer doing cutting edge research at a top-ranked institution?

Do you want to develop into a competitive biomedical graduate school applicant? 

Do you want to meet students from around the country with similar interests?

If you answered "YES!" to the questions above, then UNC's SOLAR program would be an excellent choice for you!

UNC's Summer of Learning and Research (SOLAR) Program is an intensive 10-week experience designed to prepare underrepresented minority students for graduate research and careers in science.  The program is open to rising juniors and seniors from underrepresentated populations from 4 year colleges and universities around the country.  Our goal is to provide undergraduate 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 cross-campus summer research poster session at the end of the summer.

The dates for SOLAR 2015 are Sunday, May 17th through Friday, July 24th.

Here's what past participants have said about the SOLAR Program:

"It is the best program ever. We had the opportunity to have a good relationship with our program director and the other interns."

"It is a great opportunity not only to improve your decision about graduate school, but also to get to experience at UNC and make a lot of new friends that share similar goals as you."

"It was a great experience. I learned so many valuable things that are relevant to my future career."

"It is a great opportunity not only by working in a new lab, with a mentor and learning new skills and techniques, but also the activities the program has during the summer. Also, you have the chance to make friends with the people from your lab, the program director, and the other people from SOLAR and other summer programs."

"Do yourself a favor and apply to the SOLAR program at UNC. If you get accepted you will have a great experience doing full time research. Also, the program offers many professional development talks that really aid your understanding of scientific careers. Really helpful GRE course is also offered."

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about the program.

What will you get in UNC's SOLAR program?

  • 10 weeks of mentored summer research on an independent project in the biological or biomedical sciences
  • Weekly GRE preparation classes
  • Weekly career mentoring and professional development workshopsbywell2
  • A journal club series teaches scientific literacy and critical thinking skills
  • Poster session to present your research at summer's end

How do I apply?

The application package consists of an online application form, a personal statement, a resume, a transcript, and two letters of recommendation.  The application and personal statement are completed online, while the resume and transcript are submitted via email to the program director.  References should email their letter directly to the program director as well ().

The application deadline for SOLAR 2015 was February 25th, 2015. We are no longer able to accept applications.  Please check back in the Fall of 2015 for information about SOLAR 2016. 

If you have any questions about the SOLAR program please contact Dr. Jessica Harrell, SOLAR Director, by email () or phone (919.843.1570).

What kinds of life science research are going on at UNC?

UNC ranks among the best public universities in the nation.  We are a Research I institution with more than 300 active faculty members performing research in a variety of areas in the biological and biomedical sciences.  Many of our faculty are Nobel laureates or members of the National Academy of Sciences.  Once you are accepted into the SOLAR program, Dr. Harrell will work to place you in a lab that fits your interests, where you will receive superior mentoring and training.

For our industry partners.

Please click here for information on how your company can sponsor a talented visiting summer student.

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)