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Mentor Immersion Experiences

We are glad you are interested in Mentor Immersion, our virtual mentorship program, at PTY!

Course Availability Key:

full, no longer accepting applications
full, waiting list only
available, limited space
available

In the sections below, students and families may view the mentorship experience titles, descriptions, meeting times, as well as availability. All meeting times are in Central Time.

Please note that the synchronous, weekly, virtual meeting times vary by experience. The meeting time for each mentorship experience is listed with the description in the sections below. Meetings times may change after the start of the mentorship. However, times will only be changed if a unanimous decision can be reached by the mentor and mentees for a change.

Course availability will be updated on a weekly basis around the close of each priority application window. If you submit an application shortly after the close of a priority application window, please note that course availability may not be up-to-date on this page. Additionally, availability can change quickly during peak application times and availability in certain experiences may not always be accurately reflected on this page during peak times. If your content area of interest is currently listed as “waiting list only,” click here to learn more about the waiting list process. Please contact our office at 615-322-8261 or pty.peabody@vanderbilt.edu if you have questions about availability or the length of the waiting list for a particular mentorship experience.

If you would like to be one of the first to know when the next Mentor Immersion Cohort is announced, join our mailing list!

Please select a session below to jump to the mentorship experience descriptions and meeting times for that session. Please note that mentorship experiences and mentors are subject to change.

 

Mentor Immersion (Summer 2021) – Rising Grades 11-12

Session 1 – May 17 to August 15, 2021

Choose an experience title below to view the description, meeting time and course availability. All meeting times are in Central Time.

Anthropology in Action: How Research Is Applied to Advocacy and Activism

Anthropology in Action: How Research Is Applied to Advocacy and Activism (Status: Available)
Meeting Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:00 to 7:00 PM CST
Instructor: Emma Banks, Ph.D. | View Instructor Bio

Anthropologists study human relationships and worldviews, giving us a unique vantage point from which to understand some of the world’s biggest problems. From medicine to law to international relations, anthropologists’ work crosses a variety of other disciplines. Skilled anthropologists understand that they can put their training and discoveries to work as activists and advocates. However, in these applied settings, anthropologists may confront major ethical dilemmas about their objectivity as researchers and their own power over research subjects. In this mentorship, we will explore instances where anthropologists have created both harm and benefits through their advocacy and activism work, and we will learn from these past examples to create our own research approaches. We will learn the skillsets that allow us to use an anthropological process to explore social problems while developing our own set of ethical principles to govern the approach. By applying big questions to specific case studies, we will develop your analytical and problem-solving skills, which will serve you whether you want to use these key anthropology skills in a variety of professions from lawyer to journalist to policy analyst to doctor. We learn different approaches anthropologists use to develop, conduct, and present a research project so that you are prepared for a final project where you select a pressing social problem of your choice (e.g. US race relations, immigration, gender discrimination, poverty, or climate change) to study under the guidance of your mentor. You will apply an anthropology approach to studying this social issue using both primary and secondary sources. You will also apply your research to action by developing a plan for how you might apply your discoveries to advocacy.

Note: Multiple perspectives (both popular and unpopular) will be examined and discussed for the purpose of building critical thinking skills and understanding or critiquing multiple viewpoints and data (or lack thereof) as well as incorporating and responding to classmates’ views and ideas. The ideas, readings and discussions are not necessarily the expressed views of the instructor, PTY, or VU. While we encourage students to engage in the orderly and civil exchange of diverse ideas and opinions, we expect that they will do so in a respectful way so that all participants feel welcome and safe.

Biomedical Engineering Approaches to Cancer

Biomedical Engineering Approaches to Cancer (Status: Full, No Longer Accepting Applications)
Meeting Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:00 to 8:00 PM CST
Instructor: Jenna Mosier | View Instructor Bio

What drives cancer progression? What makes cancer cells different from their normal, healthy counterparts? And how do we go about understanding and treating a disease that is so complex and patient-specific? Biomedical engineering research provides a means to answer these questions by using engineering principles to develop technology and build platforms based on cancer biology. The first part of this mentorship experience will guide you through the basic research principles used to explore and understand cancer cell behavior and tumor progression, highlighting the tools researchers use in the lab such as cell culture, microscopy, molecular biology, and microfabrication. Once a foundation in research techniques has been established, we will focus on key engineered models that have been developed and are currently utilized to probe the heterogeneous and complex nature of cancer and metastasis, including in vitro platforms like 3D collagen gels, cell migration assays, and microchannels, and in vivo models to probe tumor formation and progression in real time. Current cancer researchers will join us to share their approach to solving problems and engage in conversation about their experiences and journey through research, industry, and academia. We will also dive into scientific literature to review fundamental and influential techniques in the field and explore groundbreaking, pivotal research currently being conducted in labs across the globe. Finally, you will, in your final project, get the opportunity to become the engineer and apply your knowledge of different cancer research methodologies, platforms, and models to current challenges researchers face today.

Contemporary Trial Law: From Primary Research to Courtroom Presentation

Contemporary Trial Law: From Primary Research to Courtroom Presentation (Status: Full, Waiting List Only)
Meeting Time: Wednesday, 4:00PM-6:00PM CST; Saturday, 9:00AM-11:00AM CST
Instructor: Alyssa Baskam | View Instructor Bio

If you want to be a good trial lawyer, you must [to steal a phrase] be like a duck – calm on the surface but paddling like crazy underneath. In this mentorship, you will begin to develop an emerging legal fluency through surveying the historical development and evolution of trial law in the United States. With this foundation, you will examine contemporary methodologies and strategies to analyze the trial process from technical requirements to the performative elements. As a mentorship group, we will critically engage powerful arguments made by seasoned, successful lawyers, and reflect together on why their arguments were persuasive. We’ll explore the examination of witnesses, the importance of composure and clarity, and how to establish credibility in front of an audience of strangers. In your final project that will be developed throughout the mentorship, you will, in teams, take on the role of trial lawyer to plan and prepare opening arguments, direct examinations, cross examinations, and closing arguments. In the development of this project, you will begin to learn how to think, act and perform like a trial lawyer from both prominent historical examples and successful guest speakers. Be ready to “paddle like crazy!”

Moral Leadership: Bridging Difference, Building Trust in Uncertain Times

Moral Leadership: Bridging Difference, Building Trust in Uncertain Times (Status: Full, Waiting List Only)
Meeting Time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 6:00 to 8:00 PM CST
Instructor: Laine Walters Young | View Instructor Bio

How is ethical identity related to leadership capacity? Should morality be an integral part of leadership style? Can moral leadership be learned and leveraged towards the greater good? In this class for aspiring change-makers, you will reflect upon the relational, interpersonal, and visionary aspects of leadership, and discuss case studies of moral leadership (and missing the mark) across professional disciplines including discussions regarding combatting the immorality of disinformation in the public sphere and on social media, conflict amongst people over various definitions of justice, and how to shape communication and conversation toward better understanding of complex moral issues. As future custodians of central social institutions or agitators of social change, you will be challenged to critically reflect upon and examine the world as it is while at the same time beginning to craft a vision of how you believe the world should be. As you continue to refine your emerging vision for the future throughout the course, you will also work to theoretically and practically develop your own moral leadership compass. Drawing both on your own personal goals, aspirations, and moral concern, as well as on scholarly research in psychology, ethics, and leadership studies, you will design a proposal that argues for specific and well-researched “glocal (global/local),” tangible action on pressing social issues.

Note: Multiple perspectives (both popular and unpopular) will be examined and discussed for the purpose of building critical thinking skills and understanding or critiquing multiple viewpoints and data as well as incorporating and responding to classmates’ views and ideas. The ideas, readings and discussions are not necessarily the expressed views of the instructor, PTY, or VU. While we encourage students to engage in the orderly and civil exchange of diverse ideas and opinions, we expect that they will do so in a respectful way so that all participants feel welcome and safe.

Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at Work: Investigating When Pancreatic Physiology Goes Wrong

Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at Work: Investigating When Pancreatic Physiology Goes Wrong (Status: Full, Waiting List Only)
Meeting Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:00 to 8:00 PM CST
Instructor: Tiffany Richardson | View Instructor Bio

Did you know that someone is diagnosed with diabetes every 21 seconds? Diabetes occurs when a person has inappropriately high blood sugar levels. Because these levels are controlled by hormones secreted from pancreatic cell clusters, researchers focused on curing diabetes spend time investigating pancreatic physiology. This mentorship, led by a Vanderbilt Biomedical Ph.D. candidate who studies pancreas biology and diabetes, will introduce you to the foundational concepts in pancreatic physiology, metabolism, and endocrine hormones in order to showcase how these concepts are investigated in diabetes research. With this foundation, we will critically consider what happens when these processes go awry during diabetes and obesity. Throughout the course, you will work towards an understanding of the biology of diabetes and obesity while also learning about the toll these conditions take on one’s life in both the short and long term. As part of the mentorship, you will participate in a variety of experiences from developing and presenting a public service announcement (PSA) that is intended to inform and alert your localities about diabetes and obesity to participating in scholarly research by analyzing data from this field, drawing scientific conclusions, and presenting findings. Through these experiences, this mentorship introduces students to the field of physiology through the lens of diabetes research.

Recommended pre-requisites for class: One-year of introductory cell biology and one year of anatomy; additional science courses are helpful but optional.

Nanotechnology in Cancer: Small Solutions to Big Problems

Nanotechnology in Cancer: Small Solutions to Big Problems (Status: Full, Waiting List Only)
Meeting Time: Mondays and Tuesdays, 5:00 to 7:00 PM CST
Instructor: María López Cavestany | View Instructor Bio

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and with our increasing lifespan, the incidence is only getting higher. While medicine has developed very promising chemotherapies and radiation treatments, these can have harmful side effects and be detrimental to patients in the long term. So, what if science came up with a solution to get all the positive effects of current treatments straight to the tumor site without causing harm to the rest of the body? This is where nanotechnology comes into play! In the first half of this class, we will be discussing what makes cancer “cancer”. How are doctors able to diagnose and treat it? What are the most prevalent cancer types and how have each of them led to important turning points in medical history? Later in the course, we will switch gears and dive deep into nano-biomaterials! We will analyze scientific papers about current cutting-edge nanoparticles and devices and we will learn how these are currently being used to improve diagnosis and treatment methods for cancer. We will ask questions like, how are nanomaterials made? How can you see them? How do they interact with the human body? And, most importantly, how are they helping us better understand cancer as a disease? Throughout this mentorship, you will critically engage current scientific literature as well as learn the process of how a device/drug goes from a lab benchtop to the clinic as we acquire the content and skills needed to complete a final project that directly relates to the work experts do in this field.

Required Prerequisite: At least one year of college level or AP Biology.
Recommended Perquisite: One year of Chemistry.

Session 2 – June 14 to September 19, 2021

Choose an experience title below to view the description, meeting time and course availability. All meeting times are in Central Time.

From Lab to Life: How Psychology Research Connects to our Development as People

From Lab to Life: How Psychology Research Connects to our Development as People (Status: Full, Waiting List Only)
Meeting Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:00 to 7:00 PM CST
Instructor: Zachary Stuckelman | View Instructor Bio

This mentorship is focused on introducing you to the field of Social Science research, specifically through the lens of Developmental Psychology and Child Development. Developmental psychology researchers investigate all things human behavior – from the simple motor reactions we have as infants to how we learn second languages as both children and adults to the impact of emotions on our performance in school or work. This mentorship will introduce you to how psychologists study human development and what the field of developmental psychology has helped us learn about ourselves and others. We will start the mentorship by introducing a variety of theories concerning how we develop our psychology (i.e. our emotions, our personalities, our preferences, etc.). We will then map various research methods involved in studying development, and how they apply beyond the research lab context to our lives. We also will evaluate various statistical methods to understand how we transfer raw data in the social sciences to actual analyzable results. After a foundation in developmental psychology research and methods, you will develop your own research study based on development psychology questions we ask throughout the class. Through your own data collection and analysis, you will learn the ways in which psychology research can be used to explain our changes throughout life and the role context plays in our development. We will learn how discoveries in this field can impact our everyday life. If you are interested in child development, cognitive development, child studies, development psychology, and the practical implications of research on education, this mentorship is for you.

Rhetorical Advocacy and Criticism

Rhetorical Advocacy and Criticism (Status: Available)
Meeting Time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 4:00 to 6:00 PM CST
Instructor: John Koch | View Instructor Bio

Words have power. They can influence attitudes, behaviors, and responses. When thoughtfully done, they can be used to unite and to create change. Through the analysis of historical speeches and other texts we will explore how to apply rhetorical criticism and how to improve our own arguments and speeches to influence political, economic, and social change. We will determine the rhetorical techniques that politicians and other agents of change have employed to craft powerful messages. In this mentorship you will engage in designing college-level paper and speech projects. In doing so, you will become a more involved and informed citizen, a better public speaker, and a critical consumer of information. Under the guidance of a Vanderbilt professor who studies rhetoric and debate, you will learn how to think critically, argue effectively, and mobilize support for the issues that matter to you. If you are interested in communications, law, public policy, or politics, then Rhetorical Advocacy and Criticism is the mentorship for you.

Note: This class will involve scholarly consideration of politics and the public sphere. Multiple perspectives (both popular and unpopular) will be examined and discussed for the purpose of building critical thinking skills and understanding or critiquing multiple viewpoints and data (or lack thereof) as well as incorporating and responding to classmates’ views and ideas. The ideas, readings and discussions are not necessarily the expressed views of the instructor, PTY, or VU. While we encourage students to engage in the orderly and civil exchange of diverse ideas and opinions, we expect that they will do so in a respectful way so that all participants feel welcome and safe.

Intergroup Dialogue and Interaction across Identity and Ideological Difference: A Path towards Civility

Intergroup Dialogue and Interaction across Identity and Ideological Difference: A Path towards Civility (Status: Available)
Meeting Time: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 5:00 to 7:00 PM CST
Instructor: Jermaine Soto | View Instructor Bio

As we move forward in our academic and career paths, we will interact with others who may have different identities and ideologies. How we navigate these interactions will determine our success as students, scholars and leaders in an increasingly diverse society. This course will explore the tenets of Intergroup Dialogue, a framework for engaging in and leading conversations with the goal of shared understanding and relationship building. Students will explore how intentional and critical dialogic approaches across identity and ideological difference can strengthen civility and increase our leadership capacities within our schools and eventually the career paths we choose. Specific topics addressed will vary based on student interest and are likely to include contemporary issues in education impacting the student experience; diversity and inclusion efforts within society; and the obstacles to unity and civility within politics. Students will learn the foundations of Intergroup Dialogue, strategies and applications within their schools and future academic and career paths, and how to incorporate this dialogue into their leadership framework. Students will also gain the skills and tools to successfully facilitate dialogues on hot topics impacting society. The mentorship will conclude with you applying the dialogic lens as you design an in-depth research project on a current social issue/or an action plan for developing an intergroup dialogue program within your community or school.

Note: Multiple perspectives (both popular and unpopular) will be examined and discussed for the purpose of building critical thinking skills and understanding or critiquing multiple viewpoints and data (or lack thereof) as well as incorporating and responding to classmates’ views and ideas. The ideas, readings and discussions are not necessarily the expressed views of the instructor, PTY, or VU. While we encourage students to engage in the orderly and civil exchange of diverse ideas and opinions, we expect that they will do so in a respectful way so that all participants feel welcome and safe.

Genetic Epidemiology: Introduction and Application of Health-Related Genetic Information

Genetic Epidemiology: Introduction and Application of Health-Related Genetic Information (Status: Full, Waiting List Only)
Meeting Time: Wednesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 PM CST; Saturdays from 10:00 to 12:00 PM CST
Instructor: Brittany Hollister | View Instructor Bio

This mentorship experience is centered on the fast-paced field of genetic epidemiology. A genome is the complete set of DNA which contains the information needed for an organism to function. Genetic epidemiology is a field of biology focused on understanding how differences in DNA (genetic variation) among humans can influence disease risk in communities. In this mentorship experience, students will begin with the fundamental principles of genetic epidemiology and focus in on applying these principles to the challenges currently facing the field. We will discuss how to succeed in the field of genetic epidemiology as well as set goals for our experience. Throughout the mentorship, we will hear from current geneticists who are working in different subfields as guest speakers. The first section of the mentorship will cover fundamental principles of human genetics as well as biostatistics, both of which are needed in genetic epidemiology. You will then be immersed in the field as you explore how to conduct analyses of genetic data by completing labs and learning programming in an analysis software used by researchers across many scientific areas. Furthermore, you will consider how genetic information can be applied and used to make decisions to improve human health. We will conclude the mentorship with the opportunity to design your own genetic analysis from existing data or design a proposed solution for addressing one of the field’s current challenges as an independent project.

The Genomics Revolution: Understanding and Utilizing Modern Genome Sequencing Technology

The Genomics Revolution: Understanding and Utilizing Modern Genome Sequencing Technology (Status: Full, Waiting List Only)
Meeting Time: Tuesdays from 7:00 to 9:00 PM CST; Saturdays from 12:00 to 2:00 PM CST
Instructor: Alex Munden | View Instructor Bio

The human genome is comprised of 3.2 billion base pairs of DNA organized into 23 distinct chromosomes. DNA forms the blueprint of body, and instructs every cell in your body how to make RNA and protein. Errors in the DNA sequence cause a number of diseases such as cancer, and are intensely researched by biomedical scientists. The first whole assembly of the human genome cost $500 million dollars and required 13 years to finish. In a modern research setting, your entire genome could be sequenced for around $1000 in a few weeks. How did such an enormous undertaking transform into such a routine but powerful experiment? In the first weeks of this mentorship, we will discuss the fundamentals of DNA biology and examine the history of the revolution in genomic science. Next, we will read and discuss seminal literature in genomics science and explore publicly available deposited genomic experiments. In the final part of the mentorship, students will choose to download and analyze genomic data related to a topic of their interest in conjunction with the mentor. Using this data, the mentorship will culminate in a mini-research proposal, with background, a hypothesis based on your findings, possible experiments you could perform, expected results, and broader impact on human disease.

Rising Expert: Mini Immersion (Summer 2021) – Rising Grades 9-10

The Rising Experts program for Summer 2021 runs for one month and two sessions are available. Session 1 runs from from June 1-30, 2021 and Session 2 runs from July 6-August 2, 2021. Choose an experience title below to view the description, meeting time and course availability. All meeting times are in Central Time.

Session 1 – June 1-30, 2021

Psychological Science Research: Solving the Human Puzzle

Psychological Science Research: Solving the Human Puzzle (Status: Full, Waiting List Only)
Meeting Time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:00 to 8:00 PM CST
Instructors: Nicolette Granata | View Instructor Bio and
Zach Stuckelman | View Instructor Bio

If someone asked you to work on the world’s greatest, most perplexing puzzle for a living, would you say yes? Psychological science researchers have! What is this puzzle? Humans! Psychological researchers study how humans think, learn, feel, and why they act a certain way. If the human puzzle is intriguing to you, then you may be interested in studying psychology and becoming a psychological science researcher. This mini mentorship experience will allow you the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of researching within psychological science so that you have the knowledge to develop a research proposal in psychological science that interests YOU the most (cognitive, social, or developmental), while receiving a personalized mentorship to make your introduction to psychological research successful and impactful. The final project will be your own research proposal that reflects what psychological researchers are asked to do at the career-level. Together, we will learn how to view, interpret, and critique others’ research by studying existing scientific literature and studies. We will then use our budding understanding of psychological research to write research questions, form hypotheses, and design a novel study!

Rhetorical Advocacy and Criticism

Rhetorical Advocacy and Criticism (Status: Available)
Meeting Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:00 to 7:00 PM CST
Instructor: John Koch | View Instructor Bio

Do you want to be a better public speaker? Do you want to be able to analyze historical speeches and other texts? Do you want to be able to effectively research and organize arguments out of the massive amounts of information you are exposed to into something that makes sense? In this class, you will learn how to research, develop and organize arguments, adapt persuasive appeals to specific audiences, and, perhaps even change minds. We will analyze arguments as we learn basic rhetorical theories and apply them to historical speeches and other texts. Upon conclusion of the immersion experience you will apply your rhetorical analysis knowledge to create your own argument about something of interest to you. Be prepared to engage in discussions and critically analyze arguments and texts. Become a more involved and informed citizen, a better public speaker, and a critical consumer of information.

Note: This class will involve scholarly consideration of politics and the public sphere. Multiple perspectives (both popular and unpopular) will be examined and discussed for the purpose of building critical thinking skills and understanding or critiquing multiple viewpoints and data (or lack thereof) as well as incorporating and responding to classmates’ views and ideas. The ideas, readings and discussions are not necessarily the expressed views of the instructor, PTY, or VU. While we encourage students to engage in the orderly and civil exchange of diverse ideas and opinions, we expect that they will do so in a respectful way so that all participants feel welcome and safe.

Law and Economics: Microeconomic Theory’s Implications for the Law

Law and Economics: Microeconomic Theory’s Implications for the Law (Status: Available)
Meeting Time: Mondays and Thursdays, 6:00 to 9:00 PM CST
Instructors: Delaney Beck and Kyle Blasinsky | View Instructor Bios

Professor Bruce Ackerman of Yale Law School once described the economic approach to law as “the most important development in legal scholarship of the twentieth century.” Law and economics, the best collaboration since peanut butter and jelly, but what is it? Modern law and economics was born in the 1960’s to provide economic objectivity to analysis of mainstream legal issues. Such will be the focus of this mentorship. Together, we will explore the basics of microeconomics and its implications for laws and legal rules. We’ll answer important questions like: Do harsher sentencing laws deter crime? How liable should a producer be when their product causes another’s harm? Where do one party’s property rights end and someone else’s begin? Does it matter? With innumerable applications, students will be exposed to the main legal fields of focus in law and economics while being challenged to read and comprehend legal rules and empirical and theoretical analysis of such rules. This mentorship will push you to think in a more interdisciplinary way while considering the intended and not so intended consequences of the very laws we are asked to abide by every day.

Note: Multiple perspectives (both popular and unpopular) will be examined and discussed for the purpose of building critical thinking skills and understanding or critiquing multiple viewpoints and data (or lack thereof) as well as incorporating and responding to classmates’ views and ideas. The ideas, readings and discussions are not necessarily the expressed views of the instructor, PTY, or VU. While we encourage students to engage in the orderly and civil exchange of diverse ideas and opinions, we expect that they will do so in a respectful way so that all participants feel welcome and safe.

Astrophysics: Using Science and Math to Understand Galaxies

Astrophysics: Using Science and Math to Understand Galaxies (Status: Full, Waiting List Only)
Meeting Time: Mondays and Thursdays, 2:00 to 5:00 PM CST
Instructors: Erika Grundstrom, Ph.D. | View Instructor Bio and Christina Davis | View Instructor Bio

Our Solar System is just one of billions within our Milky Way Galaxy. Our Milky Way Galaxy is just one of billions within the Universe. To immerse ourselves in an astrophysicist’s world, we will study the observational and the theoretical of galaxies in our Universe. In this mini mentorship, you will first learn the basics of galactic types and the component parts thereof (gas, dust, stars, supermassive black holes, dark matter, etc.) as well as some fundamental physics principles from a Vanderbilt professor who spends time researching and teaching astronomy. You will also learn how to read scholarly articles in this field. You will then be able to apply your new knowledge and further build on it as you learn how to utilize freely available observational data and some computer simulations (along with physics and math) to go deeper into scientific practice. By the end of this session, answering a research question that you design, you will be able to present your own work during a virtual poster session just like a researcher in the field.

Prerequisites: Algebra 1

Writing With Fire: An Introduction to Professional Writing, Reading, & Storytelling

Writing With Fire: An Introduction to Professional Writing, Reading, & Storytelling (Status: Available)
Mondays and Wednesdays 4:00PM-7:00 PM CST
Instructor: Benjamin Schwartz | View Instructor Bio

This mentorship focuses on the evolving and immersive field of writing as art and profession. Together, we will explore and apply techniques and literary elements that make for engaging pieces of writing. We will do so by studying (and writing!) modes of literature such as poetry, memoir, persuasive nonfiction, genre fiction, oral performance, and more.The goals of this mentorship include providing students: (1) an enriched understanding of writing techniques, (2) an expanded library of authors and influences upon whom they can draw for ongoing inspiration in their work (3) a deeper understanding of self and voice, (4) a broader sense of the range of academic and career opportunities available to them as writers, and (5) opportunities to revise and polish their original work. Throughout our time together, we will ask questions around the opportunities and challenges of professional writing in the U.S.: How do writers represent the world ethically and responsibly? How might we understand language as social action? What opportunities and problematics do different modes of written and oral communication entail? How do we work collaboratively to enable our collective growth as critics, writers, and thinkers? Furthermore, we will discuss strategies for professionalizing one’s writing as we host guest speakers who speak to craft and provide mentees with insight and tips on the process of publication.This mentorship is designed to provide interested, emerging writers and storytellers with guidance in and appreciation for all facets of writing as a discipline. It is also designed to celebrate the joys of writing; writers can expect to be critically engaged in their work as they participate in the process of reading, reflecting, revising, and community-building. This is an introduction to writing as craft; therefore, you do not need to have prior knowledge or experience with poetry, fiction, or nonfiction, though you should be interested in the field. Good writers are also good readers, who can express and evaluate a text with a critical and creative eye. During this mentorship, you will read and engage with writers in your mentee-community, as well as with writers of the wider literary world.

Session 2 – July 6-August 2, 2021 (Application Opens March 30!)

Psychological Science Research: Solving the Human Puzzle

Psychological Science Research: Solving the Human Puzzle
Meeting Time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:00 to 8:00 PM CST
Instructors: Nicolette Granata | View Instructor Bio and
Zach Stuckelman | View Instructor Bio

If someone asked you to work on the world’s greatest, most perplexing puzzle for a living, would you say yes? Psychological science researchers have! What is this puzzle? Humans! Psychological researchers study how humans think, learn, feel, and why they act a certain way. If the human puzzle is intriguing to you, then you may be interested in studying psychology and becoming a psychological science researcher. This mini mentorship experience will allow you the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of researching within psychological science so that you have the knowledge to develop a research proposal in psychological science that interests YOU the most (cognitive, social, or developmental), while receiving a personalized mentorship to make your introduction to psychological research successful and impactful. The final project will be your own research proposal that reflects what psychological researchers are asked to do at the career-level. Together, we will learn how to view, interpret, and critique others’ research by studying existing scientific literature and studies. We will then use our budding understanding of psychological research to write research questions, form hypotheses, and design a novel study!

Genetic Epidemiology: Introduction and Application of Health-Related Genetic Information

Genetic Epidemiology: Introduction and Application of Health-Related Genetic Information
Meeting Time: Mondays and Thursdays, 5:30 to 8:30 PM CDT
Instructor: Brittany Hollister | View Instructor Bio

This mentorship experience is centered on the fast-paced field of genetic epidemiology. A genome is the complete set of DNA which contains the information needed for an organism to function. Genetic epidemiology is a field of biology focused on understanding how differences in DNA (genetic variation) among humans can influence disease risk in communities. In this mentorship experience, students will begin with the fundamental principles of genetic epidemiology and focus in on applying these principles to the challenges currently facing the field. We will discuss how to succeed in the field of genetic epidemiology as well as set goals for our experience. The first section of the mentorship will cover fundamental principles of human genetics as well as biostatistics, both of which are needed in genetic epidemiology. You will then be immersed in the field as you explore how to conduct analyses of genetic data by learning programming in an analysis software used by researchers across many scientific areas. Furthermore, you will consider how genetic information can be applied and used to make decisions to improve human health. We will conclude the mentorship with the opportunity to design your own genetic analysis as an independent project.

Brain-Body Interactions: From Health to Disease

Brain-Body Interactions: From Health to Disease
Meeting Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:00 to 8:00 PM CST
Instructors: Thao Le | View Instructor Bio

Ever wonder why we feel hungry, thirsty, relaxed, or stressed? In this mentorship, we will explore the many ways the brain and the rest of the body use chemical signals or hormones to communicate with each other to interpret and regulate these basic functions. Specifically, we will examine the brain regions, endocrine organs, and biological processes responsible for some of our common experiences such as hunger, fullness, cravings, and stress response. To do this, we will assess key studies and findings from the fields of neuroscience, physiology, and endocrinology to understand how each of these functions takes place as well as what happens when things go awry. Along the way, you will learn how to read scientific literature, develop your own research questions and hypotheses, design experiments to test them, and ultimately write and present your research proposals. Led by a senior Vanderbilt MD-PhD student, this mentorship will also give you a glimpse into the life of a physician scientist in training as well as the many career paths in medicine and biomedical research.

Writing With Fire: An Introduction to Professional Writing, Reading, & Storytelling

Writing With Fire: An Introduction to Professional Writing, Reading, & Storytelling
Mondays and Wednesdays 4:00PM-7:00 PM CST
Instructor: Benjamin Schwartz | View Instructor Bio

This mentorship focuses on the evolving and immersive field of writing as art and profession. Together, we will explore and apply techniques and literary elements that make for engaging pieces of writing. We will do so by studying (and writing!) modes of literature such as poetry, memoir, persuasive nonfiction, genre fiction, oral performance, and more.The goals of this mentorship include providing students: (1) an enriched understanding of writing techniques, (2) an expanded library of authors and influences upon whom they can draw for ongoing inspiration in their work (3) a deeper understanding of self and voice, (4) a broader sense of the range of academic and career opportunities available to them as writers, and (5) opportunities to revise and polish their original work. Throughout our time together, we will ask questions around the opportunities and challenges of professional writing in the U.S.: How do writers represent the world ethically and responsibly? How might we understand language as social action? What opportunities and problematics do different modes of written and oral communication entail? How do we work collaboratively to enable our collective growth as critics, writers, and thinkers? Furthermore, we will discuss strategies for professionalizing one’s writing as we host guest speakers who speak to craft and provide mentees with insight and tips on the process of publication.This mentorship is designed to provide interested, emerging writers and storytellers with guidance in and appreciation for all facets of writing as a discipline. It is also designed to celebrate the joys of writing; writers can expect to be critically engaged in their work as they participate in the process of reading, reflecting, revising, and community-building. This is an introduction to writing as craft; therefore, you do not need to have prior knowledge or experience with poetry, fiction, or nonfiction, though you should be interested in the field. Good writers are also good readers, who can express and evaluate a text with a critical and creative eye. During this mentorship, you will read and engage with writers in your mentee-community, as well as with writers of the wider literary world.

Mentor Immersion (Jan-June 2021) – Rising Grades 10-12

Choose an experience title below to view the description and meeting time. All meeting times are in Central Time.

Creating Change: Using Grassroots Community Development to Solve Problems

Creating Change: Using Grassroots Community Development to Solve Problems – Limited Availability
Meeting Time: Tuesdays, 5:30 to 7:30 PM CST
Instructor: Kelley-Frances Fenelon | View Instructor Bio

How do you create sustainable change? How do you re-shape toxic systems and end injustice? And even more pressing, how do you do this work when it seems as if everyone around you feels powerless to create change? This mentorship begins with the premise that everyone is powerful and every voice is needed to create sustainable change. Through this mentorship, we will explore three methods of creating change: Asset-based Community Development, Community Organizing, and Social Entrepreneurship. Through these three change-making strategies, we will look at ways that change can happen at the neighborhood level and at the national level. We will also explore case studies of ways neighborhoods have been reshaped through residents coming together to create the change they need. We will also spend time looking at social entrepreneurship (and more specifically, B-corps) as a way to create income that serves the greater good. In this mentorship, as a final product, participants will form their own simulated? B-corp using the principles of design theory coupled with their own ideas for creating change in their community. This mentorship is a perfect fit for anyone interested in politics, government, law, business, nonprofits, faith-based work, social enterprise, city planning, or any field that works closely with the community around them.

Data Science Intensive: Using AI to Solve Real-World Problems

Data Science Intensive: Using AI to Solve Real-World Problems – Full, Waiting List Only
Meeting Time: Tuesdays, 5:30 to 7:30 PM CST
Instructors: Jesse Spencer-Smith, Ph.D. | View Instructor Bio and Charreau Bell, Ph.D. | View Instructor Bio

Have you ever had to make a decision about the future, and even with lots of prior experience and knowledge, it was still difficult to make the decision? Have you ever thought about all the data in your smart watches or phones and wanted to glean insights or simplify your life using that data? As data scientists, we work to solve a variety of real-world problems like these to predict future events, extract insights from vast amounts of data, and automate, clarify, simplify, and optimize decision-making processes. In this mentorship opportunity, you’ll learn about the landscape of data science and application areas from a data scientist at Vanderbilt’s Data Science Institute (DSI). You’ll attend a number of hands-on workshops from data scientists to develop your skill set in using industry-standard tools in data science. Building on your previous experience in programming, you’ll learn to use data science packages in R or Python, and best practices in coding for clarity, reproducibility, visualization, and collaboration. You’ll learn about version control of your code, models, and data using repositories, and also learn how to use GitHub tools to organize your work and collaborate with others. Then, you’ll learn the basics of machine learning and deep learning to train, evaluate, and test models; we’ll also delve into the ethical implications of models and how to make sure you generate fair ones. Your final project will combine these skills on a real data science project with the DSI. Throughout your immersion, your mentor will share with you their pathway to data science and their experiences, and what they’ve learned throughout their career – both technically and non-technically. Each week, you’ll meet with your mentor who will guide you through using data science tools, share completed and ongoing data science projects, and answer any questions you might have about becoming a data scientist.

Prerequisite: Students must have completed at least one semester of computer programming by January 2021. Please contact pty.peabody@vanderbilt.edu if you would like to know how to indicate computer programming knowledge through experiences not reflected on a school transcript. These will be considered on a case by case basis.

Environmental Engineering: Sustainability from the Sun to the Sea

Environmental Engineering: Sustainability from the Sun to the Sea – Course full, waiting list only
Meeting Time: Saturdays, 10:00AM to 12:00PM CST
Instructor: Kofi Christie, Ph.D. | View Instructor Bio

The engineered systems around us are closely linked to the Earth’s natural environment. This mentorship is centered around the scientific principles and ideas that environmental engineers use to provide clean water, minimize pollution, and improve the environment. We’ll start with the basics, then we’ll grow to learn that the most pressing environmental challenges provide some of the most interesting opportunities for innovation. What if our nation’s industries could mine wastewater from industrial processes for valuable elements and compounds? What if coastal communities could desalinate ocean water at a cost and energy use comparable to other traditional water sources? What if our domestic energy industries could treat and reuse produced water for further oil and gas production as well as for other uses? What if our power producers could remove contaminants from power plant wastewater and encapsulate them in a nonhazardous solid form? What if, rather than use fresh water once and then throw it away we could use it again and again and again? These questions will be discussed along the way as we assess the current state of affairs and consider rational paths toward a sustainable future. We will conclude the mentorship with the opportunity to design your own engineered systems using combined fundamental principles to address air pollution, waste disposal, recycling, global warming, water pollution and other environmental issues.

Exploring the Mind: The Science of Psychology

Exploring the Mind: The Science of Psychology – Course full, waiting list only
Meeting Time: Wednesdays, 6:00 to 8:00 PM CST
Instructor: Caoimhe Harrington Stack, Ph.D. | View Instructor Bio

This mentorship is focused on introducing you to the field of Cognitive Psychology. Psychological researchers scientifically investigate all aspects of human cognition – memory, language, decision-making, and more! Cognitive science focues a lot on the brain and often involves work with neuroscience. The goal of this mentorship will be to help you understand how cognitive psychologists frame questions about human behavior and learning and then ultimately answer them. We will begin by discussing what is involved in becoming a researcher and what life as a researcher looks like. To get you thinking like a cognitive psychologist, we will move into exploring how the scientific method is used to answer questions about the mind. Here, we’ll focus on key psychological research methods, and also gain an understanding of how to use basic statistics to analyze findings. Along the way, we will explore key findings from psychology, taking a look at what researchers have already discovered about our minds. While doing this, we’ll engage in critiquing research, learning how to question data we are presented with and suggest improvements to current research. The ultimate goal of this mentorship will be for you to ask your own psychological question, and then design a research project to answer it. Through your own data collection and analysis, you will get a true glimpse into how the world of research works in the field of psychology!

From Lab to Press Conference: How to Think, Write and Communicate as a Scientist

From Lab to Press Conference: How to Think, Write and Communicate as a Scientist – Course full, waiting list only
Meeting Time: Saturdays, 1:00 to 3:00 PM CST
Instructor: Loren LaPointe, Ph.D. | View Instructor Bio

2020 has taught us that clearly communicating scientific research and policies in the public sphere is a challenging but critical task. This mentorship, lead by a scientist with a Ph.D in Biochemistry who now works in a government position focused on science communication and policy, is designed for the scientifically curious student who may be interested in a career outside of a laboratory or medical setting. Though many science based careers still begin with a traditional undergraduate curriculum with lecture and lab coursework followed by some type of post-baccalaureate study in the form of a Master’s degree, MD, or a PhD, pursuing a career in science no longer means following only one predetermined route. This mentorship begins with the foundational belief that everyone, no matter what academic path they choose to take, should be scientifically literate. Through this mentorship, you will carefully consider diverse ways science influences American society and then develop critical skills that will lead you in your own journey towards becoming a science communicator. Mentorship content will draw more from the critical thinking skills that are required to be a scientist than actual scientific content – skills which are useful in any and all careers. While topics in this course will at times be led by student interest, we will consider such questions as “How does science influence American society?,” “How well is science communicated in US and international media?” and “How can you differentiate between good and bad scientific research studies?” At the conclusion of the course, you will develop and present your own project that will contribute to the timely and important scholarly conversation concerning scientific communication.

Preferred pre-requisites: One year introductory biology; One year introductory chemistry; U.S. government or civics course helpful, but optional; Additional science courses are helpful, but optional.

Genetic Epidemiology: Introduction and Application of Health-Related Genetic Information

Genetic Epidemiology: Introduction and Application of Health-Related Genetic Information – Course full, waiting list only
Meeting Time: Tuesdays, 5:30 to 7:30 PM CST
Instructor: Brittany Hollister, Ph.D. | View Instructor Bio

This mentorship experience is centered on the fast-paced field of genetic epidemiology. A genome is the complete set of DNA which contains the information needed for an organism to function. Genetic epidemiology is a field of biology focused on understanding how differences in DNA (genetic variation) among humans can influence disease risk in communities. In this mentorship experience, students will begin with the fundamental principles of genetic epidemiology and focus in on applying these principles to the challenges currently facing the field. We will discuss how to succeed in the field of genetic epidemiology as well as set goals for our experience. Throughout the mentorship, we will hear from current geneticists who are working in different subfields as guest speakers. The first section of the mentorship will cover fundamental principles of human genetics as well as biostatistics, both of which are needed in genetic epidemiology. You will then be immersed in the field as you explore how to conduct analyses of genetic data by completing labs and learning programming in an analysis software used by researchers across many scientific areas. Furthermore, you will consider how genetic information can be applied and used to make decisions to improve human health. We will conclude the mentorship with the opportunity to design your own genetic analysis from existing data or design a proposed solution for addressing one of the field’s current challenges as an independent project.

Genomics: The Next Generation of Biology Research

Genomics: The Next Generation of Biology Research – Course full, waiting list only
Meeting Time: Sundays, 1:00 to 3:00 PM CST
Instructors: Andrea (Andy) Perreault, Ph.D. | View Instructor Bio; Katie Reed, Ph.D. Candidate | View Instructor Bio

This mentorship is focused on the field of biomedical research called genomics. Genomics is the study of the whole genomes of organisms and leverages DNA sequencing methods and bioinformatics to sequence, assemble, and analyze the structure and function of genomes. Genomics takes classical genetics to a new level by considering an organism’s full hereditary material, rather than one gene at a time. Led by a postdoctoral fellow with her PhD in Chemical and Physical Biology from Vanderbilt Univeristy, you will take a deep dive into how researchers are using genomics to study the structure and function of DNA and how this can be applied to understanding diseases as well as discovering new treatments for diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease, HIV, and cancer. As a foundation for genomics, you will work through an introduction to molecular biology, genetics, and bioinformatics at the start of the mentorship. This mentorship will give you a base of content knowledge crucial to genomics research, so that you can then continue to expand your knowledge and develop your problem solving and critical thinking skills with weekly literature review sessions and discussion. You can also expect advanced lectures and conversations with faculty, postdocs, grad students, and professionals from universities and industry, who will serve as guest speakers. Ultimately, you will use your evolving understanding of genomics to develop an independent research proposal. This proposal will stem from a question you have about the current state of genomics research and encompass a literature review, a hypothesis, and scientific method process to address this hypothesis. The mentorship is designed to challenge you to see the world the way an interdisciplinary biomedical researcher does—how using skills from across disciplines to study an organisms’ DNA might address some of the world’s biggest diseases.

Prerequisite: Students must have completed at least one semester of Biology by January 2020, preferably molecular biology or genetics. An interest in computer science is also suggested.

The Leadership Institute: A Journey towards Innovative, Principled and Insightful Leadership

The Leadership Institute: A Journey towards Innovative, Principled and Insightful Leadership – Course full, waiting list only
Meeting Time: Thursdays, 6:00 to 8:00 PM CST
Instructor: Katie Minyard, MBA | View Instructor Bio

Instead of beginning with what leadership is, this mentorship intentionally starts with what leadership does: Leadership translates vision into reality. In today’s world of growing complexity, it is essential to not only have knowledge, but to have the imagination to anticipate, adapt to and initiate change. In this mentorship opportunity, your cohort will be challenged and will challenge one another to become innovative, principled, and insightful leaders who seek to positively change the world. In order to begin that rigorous journey, you will first explore major frameworks of leadership through analyzing primary research articles and key academic works in order to “map” the field of leadership theory. With this guiding knowledge, you will collaborate with peers and industry experts in analyzing and evaluating real world case studies of leadership “successes” and “failures” in the corporations, nonprofits and government. After developing a foundational leadership toolkit and working towards developing fluency in the scholarly vocabulary of the field, you will turn your attention to your final project of developing your own robust theory of leadership. You will propose this theory and it’s application through a research and reflection paper that will become the foundation for a formal presentation ready for C-suite executives! By the end of this mentorship, you will have a well-developed, carefully articulated, and peer-vetted understanding of leadership that you can put to the test in your current and future leadership roles.

Legal Reasoning and the American Legal System

Legal Reasoning and the American Legal System – Course full, waiting list only
Meeting Time: Saturdays, 12:00 to 2:00 PM CST
Instructor: Zachary Richards, JD | View Instructor Bio

This mentorship is focused on the law and legal profession. Legal reasoning refers to the methods that various players in the legal profession—judges, attorneys, regulators, and politicians—use to apply law and fact to resolve legal questions. These parties all play different roles writing, interpreting and enforcing the laws, and in this mentorship, we will learn about these various roles and how they relate and interact in the American legal system. We will discuss various substantive areas of the law, including procedural and substantive protections in the Constitution, as well as Torts, Contracts, and other doctrinal areas that every first-year law student studies. Led by an attorney who has practiced in a major American law firm, clerked for a federal judge, and gained experience in both the United States House of Representatives and Senate, students can expect to gain a wide exposure to “how the system works.” This mentorship will also give students the opportunity to select a topic of interest to research and produce work product with the direction of the mentor. The topics for these projects are up to the student, and could range from issues relating to food regulation, to the merits and problems of eminent domain, to the constitutionality of speech laws. Regardless of topic, students will be challenged to read difficult legal materials, extract information, and make focused arguments for their positions.This mentorship is designed to challenge you to think like a lawyer while introducing you to legal doctrine and the structure of the American legal system.

Moral Leadership: Bridging Difference, Building Trust in Uncertain Times

Moral Leadership: Bridging Difference, Building Trust in Uncertain Times – Course full, waiting list only
Meeting Time: Sundays, 1:00 to 3:00 PM CST
Instructor: Laine Walters Young, Ph.D. | View Instructor Bio

How is ethical identity related to leadership capacity? Should morality be an integral part of leadership style? Can moral leadership be learned and leveraged towards the greater good? In this class for aspiring change-makers, you will reflect upon the relational, interpersonal, and visionary aspects of leadership, and discuss case studies of moral leadership (and missing the mark) across professional disciplines. As future custodians of central social institutions or agitators of social change, you will be challenged to critically reflect upon and examine the world as it is while at the same time beginning to craft a vision of how you believe the world should be. As you continue to refine your emerging vision for the future throughout the course, you will also work to theoretically and practically develop your own moral leadership compass. Drawing both on your own personal goals, aspirations, and moral concern, as well as on scholarly research in psychology, ethics, and leadership studies, you will design a  proposal that argues for specific and well-researched “glocal (global/local),” tangible action on pressing social issues.

Studies in Clinical Psychology: Principles and Applications of Research Science

Studies in Clinical Psychology: Principles and Applications of Research Science – Course full, waiting list only
Meeting Time: Sundays, 2:00 to 4:00 PM CST
Instructor: Pietra Bruni, Doctoral Candidate | View Instructor Bio

Led by a clinical psychology graduate student at Vanderbilt, this mentorship will address the intersection between clinical and research psychology and focus on the exciting and complex work that happens in the field of research science. Clinical psychologists are focused on causes, treatments, and prevention of different types of disorders. Clinical psychologists who are involved in research science ask questions like — How do we learn about the way people think, feel, and behave? How can psychopathology be studied in an ethical way? What approaches are used for disseminating research findings, and how are findings utilized in clinical settings? Come ready to explore the diverse field of clinical research science.

To begin to understand how research questions are operationalized in clinical work, you will need an introduction to study design. This introduction will include a deep dive into creating research protocols, selecting suitable stimuli, appropriately navigating the informed consent process, and submitting approval for research to the Institutional Review Board. The mentorship will provide a base of content knowledge crucial to the field, so that you can begin the process of designing and developing your own research project. You can also expect advanced lectures, labs, extensive study, an introduction to the DSM-5, and guest lectures from fellow clinicians and research scientists. Ultimately, you will use your research science understanding to do an independent project (with input from your mentor) as your synthesize literature in the field about a current clinical psychology question. The possibilities are endless—this could be related to a specific psychopathology, social-connectedness in the time of COVID, the gut-brain connection, or another relevant query. You will develop a researchable question, propose sound methods to address this question, and begin the exciting process of finding answers! This mentorship is designed to challenge you to see the world the way a clinical research scientist does—pushing to explore your interests in both a creative and empirically meaningful way. In this class, you will learn how to design, conduct and polish a university level research project. As research projects are a part of every academic discipline, the skills learned in this mentorship will prepare for you for success in college level courses while still in high school.

The Writer’s Notebook: Craft and Creation of Poetry, Fiction, & Creative Nonfiction

The Writer’s Notebook: Craft and Creation of Poetry, Fiction, & Creative Nonfiction – Course full, waiting list only
Meeting Time: Thursdays, 6:00 to 8:00 PM CST
Instructor: Carlina Duan, MFA | View Instructor Bio

This mentorship focuses on the evolving and immersive field of creative writing. Together, we will explore and apply craft techniques and literary elements that make for engaging pieces of writing. We will do so by studying (and writing!) literary genres such as: documentary writing, flash fiction, poetry of witness, golden shovels, ghazals, and more. Through close readings, discussion, and our own writing, mentees will emerge from this mentorship with: (1) a rich “toolkit” of creative writing craft techniques, (2) an understanding and participation in the contemporary literary arts scene, and (3) their own revised and polished original work — to be published and presented in a culminating creative anthology. Throughout our time together, we will ask questions around the powers and challenges of creative writing in the U.S., such as: What does the “writer’s life” entail and look like? How do writers portray community ethically and responsibly? How might we understand language as social action? How does translation shape and form the ways we read and respond to literary texts? Furthermore, we will discuss strategies for publication – studying contemporary literary journals and presses, and hosting guest speakers — published writers and editors from across the U.S. — who will provide mentees with concrete resources and tips for publication.

This mentorship is designed to provide interested emerging writers with a guidance and appreciation for creative writing as a discipline. It’s also designed to celebrate the joys of creative writing; writers can expect to be critically engaged in their work, as well as participating in the delightful process of making, reading, reflecting, and community-building. This is an introduction to creative writing; therefore, you do not need to have prior knowledge or experience with poetry, fiction, or nonfiction – though you should, first and foremost, be interested in the field. Good writers are also good readers, who can express and evaluate a poem with a critical and creative eye. During this mentorship, you will read and engage with writers in your mentee-community, as well as with writers of the wider literary world.