About Us

Dear Student Applicants: We are currently accepting applications for the Penn LENS program as we will be running a modified version this summer.  No teacher recommendation is needed. Please complete your applications and we will review them as they come in.
Students selected for the 2020-21 Penn LENS program will have the opportunity to gain an understanding of what scientific research involves. This will include

  • assignment to a research group in either the Biology, Psychology or Physics Departments for familiarization and mentorship by Penn faculty and graduate students; 
  • participation in an on-line Summer Science Academy, run through the College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS) from July 6-24, where they will join other students from around the world to learn about science with relevant applications through talks, demonstrations, journal clubs and virtual at-home labs; 
  • a 4-day “Boot Camp” run through the School of Arts and Sciences Science Outreach office prior to the Academy (June 29-July 2) Orientation to the program: What is scientific research? What kinds of skills are needed? Who will we be collaborating with?
  • once it is feasible to safely be on the Penn campus during the school year, an opportunity to spend a day shadowing the research group that is sponsoring her/him; 
  •  optionally, during the academic year each student will be able to pursue a research project to be entered in the George Washington Carver Science Fair under the mentorship of an individual in their research group.

The program will run for 4 weeks total: Week 1 will meet Monday-Thursday, 10 am-2:30 pm; remaining weeks are Mondays-Fridays 9-5 with daily schedules varied according to the work being done. Participants will receive a financial award of $500 for participating and will attend the Summer Science Academy free-of-charge. Anyone needing technology assistance (device and/or WiFi access) will be accommodated on a case-by-case basis.
Sample Opportunities (subject to change)
Dr. Joseph Kable’s Lab: Dr. Kable is a psychology professor who looks at how and why people make decisions, using approaches from psychology, neuroscience and economics.
Dr. Eleni Katifori’s Lab: Dr. Katifori is a physics professor who studies the organizing principles of biological material and how they evolved, focusing on vascular systems such as the ones found in plant leaves.
Dr. Katie Barott’s Lab: Dr. Barott is a biology professor who studies the effects of climate change on coral animals. When corals are stressed by their environment, they expel the single-cell algae that live within their tissues.
Dr. Mecky Pohlschröder’s Lab:Dr. Pohlschröder is a biology professor who studies single-celled prokaryotic organisms from the kingdom ​Archaea​, their motility using flagella and biofilm-formation in the human digestive system.
Dr. Robyn Sanderson's Lab: Dr. Sanderson is a physics and astronomy professor whose research focuses on ways to infer the dark matter distribution in galaxies by studying the orbits of their stars.
Click here to apply to Penn LENS

The School of Arts & Sciences Science Outreach Initiative serves faculty and other researchers in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences by helping them develop outreach program ideas and proposals, locating potential partners, and promoting information and resource exchange among all of Penn’s STEM outreach programs.
The Science Outreach Initiative was established in 2012 to encourage and support faculty participation in initiatives towards the development of research efforts which will more broadly impact public understanding of science.
Advancing the frontiers of science through research is crucial to our Nation’s future, as is the development of a more scientifically literate citizenry. Major external funders like the National Science Foundation now place an emphasis on “Broader Impacts” -- initiatives which work towards this scientific literacy goal.
The SOI staff members have extensive experience with STEM teaching and learning in universities, K-12 schools, and informal settings are familiar with basic science research.
Utilizing knowledge gained and relationships established in these professional arenas, the SOI staff will guide interested researchers through the process of effectively responding to outreach requirements of funding agencies, including the “Broader Impacts” criterion.
Explore to learn more, or click here to get in touch with SOI staff.