Skip to main content


Professor Craig Stephens and students in lab.

Professor Craig Stephens and students in lab.

A Jump-Start to Scientific Research

New DeNardo Lab Rotation Summer program exposes students to life science research opportunities on campus.

New DeNardo Lab Rotation Summer program exposes students to life science research opportunities on campus.

By Shantala Jennings ’27

Due to the demanding criteria and growing competition in scientific research fields, it's becoming more difficult for students to enter the space. This is especially the case for first-year students who are more likely to avoid engaging in research activities due to a lack of familiarity with new professors and the field itself. A team of faculty including Christelle Sabatier (Biology), Craig Stephens (Biology and Public Health), Patti Simone (Psychology and Neuroscience), and Katy Korsmeyer (Biology) offered a much needed solution for Santa Clara University’s campus.

"While speaking with a colleague who runs Harvard Medical School's neuroscience graduate program, I learned that a significant amount of prior lab work experience was key to entering the Ph.D. medical program,” said Sabatier, senior lecturer and chair in the Department of Biology. “When we did the math, we found that for students to meet those requirements, they needed to start doing research early in their undergraduate programs." The idea was born to create a low-barrier entry for first-year and transfer students interested in research, allowing them to explore life science labs, begin networking with the SCU community, and decide whether to leverage that experience for further study at Santa Clara University.

With the support of the DeNardo Education and Research Foundation and the College of Arts and Sciences, the team created a summer program that allowed students to conduct research in three different labs over nine weeks in the summer. Research focus ranged from analytical chemistry, ecology, to molecular biology and genetics. Through the program, students developed basic research techniques with a hands-on approach, experimented with different research topics, and built networking skills. In addition, the program partnered with the Chemistry Department's Scientific Mindset professional development program to host career development workshops where students would meet once a week to discuss important topics about the practice. The experience allowed students who wished to continue in research to determine what labs to join and what field of research science they were interested in.

“What made this experience so special were the professors and student researchers that I met during the program," said Jocelyn Madrigal ’26 (Biology). “Every person that I met was so welcoming, and each research lab that I joined made me feel like a part of their team. The support that I received throughout this program and the trust that the professors had in me to take on responsibilities in their research labs were incredible and made me realize that this is a community that I want to be a part of.” Through this experience, she was able to discover her passion for research and is now enrolled in a cellular biology lab with Brian Bayless (Biology) for the winter quarter.

Thanks to the Denardo Lab Rotations program, students like Madrigal will get the unique opportunity to build research skills, establish networks, and find their place in the world of scientific exploration. Students who are interested in the research field but don’t have much experience are encouraged to apply for the summer 2024 program. Details will be announced soon.


CAS News, biology home, neurohome, phhome, cashome