Urban Barcode Research Program
About the Program

A Student Mentorship Program Supported by the Pinkerton Foundation

We are pleased to offer the Urban Barcode Research Program (UBRP), science education initiative to engage high school students to study biodiversity in NYC using DNA technology. Students complete introductory workshops and then conduct independent, student-driven research projects using DNA barcoding under expert mentorship. The UBRP enables students to gain knowledge, confidence, and interest in science while studying the interaction between biodiversity and human activity.

Student Eligibility

  • Students must be enrolled in grades 9-12 at a public or private high school in New York City. Students must reside in New York City.
  • Students are required to complete two mandatory courses: Conservation Genetics and DNA Barcoding and Bioinformatics. Courses are offered after school in the spring semester, as well as in the summer.
  • After completion of the courses, students must submit an online application to be considered for the program.

Program Application

Students who have completed both courses will be invited to apply to the UBRP just prior to or at the beginning of the school year. After application review, 40 students will be invited to continue in the UBRP. Teams of two students will be matched with scientist mentors for the academic year. Mentors guide the students through all phases of the research process, beginning with project design and culminating in poster and oral presentations at a research symposium in May or June.

Participation Requirements

  • Mentors and students define a work schedule to accomplish a minimum of 55 hours of research during the academic year to complete their project in time for presentation at a symposium in early spring.
  • Mentors help students plan, develop and conclude a DNA barcoding project. Key components of the research cycle include writing a research proposal, fieldwork and/or sample collection, DNA isolation, amplification of DNA barcoding regions, and analysis of DNA sequences.
  • Project staff coordinate with teams and mentors to ensure that projects are rigorous and appropriately scaled to achieve results during the time allotted.
  • Mentors receive a stipend of $2,000, in addition to the costs associated with obtaining and sequencing 50 specimens will be covered. Mentors also directly impact the science education and career trajectory of urban high school students.
  • Students who complete the 55 hours of research and present their projects at the Research Symposium each receive a $500 stipend.