JAX welcomes Summer Student Program class of 2024 in milestone year

Students arrive in Bar Harbor and Farmington as the SSP celebrates its 100th anniversary.

A mushroom forager. A member of the U.S. Air National Guard. An Eagle Scout. A self-proclaimed nail artist who uses her talents to get to know others.

These are some members of the Summer Student Program (SSP) class of 2024, who arrived at The Jackson Laboratory on June 1 for 10 weeks of research, mentorship and adventure on our campuses in Bar Harbor, Maine, and Farmington, Conn.

From a pool of more than 500 applicants, 37 trainees were selected for this year’s cohort, representing 21 states and 32 institutions across the country. In keeping with JAX’s commitment to diversity in the scientific career pipeline, 57% of the class meets diversity criteria established by the National Institutes for Health, meaning they are differently abled, identify with a group traditionally underrepresented in science or come from a family categorized as socioeconomically disadvantaged.

The 2023 JAX summer student class outside the Highseas estate on the Bar Harbor campus. The 2024 JAX summer student class outside the Highseas estate on the Bar Harbor campus. (Photo credit: Tiffany Laufer)

The SSP celebrates its centennial this year with a series of in-person and virtual events, marking a special opportunity for this year’s class to connect with alumni.

“We’re delighted that the class of 2024 will experience the 100th anniversary of the SSP,” said A.G. Barry, assistant director of stewardship and alumni engagement. “Many alumni returning to JAX this summer consider the SSP to be one of the most pivotal times in their lives. I hope our current students enjoy the chance to connect across generations, and I hope they see that in being here, they’ve become part of something special and larger than themselves.”    

The SSP annually brings talented, curious young adults into the JAX community for hands-on participation in research discovery. Paired with expert faculty mentors, students develop an independent research project in one of JAX’s areas of expertise, such as the intersection of cancer and aging, neurodegenerative conditions, rare congenital defects, cardiovascular health and more. They refine their scientific “pitch” and communication skills throughout the summer and culminate their experience by presenting their research to family, friends and the broader JAX community.

The class of 2024 has impressive academic credentials. Several members are building on previous research experience at prestigious institutions, such as Boston University Medical School, the National Security Agency and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Two trainees have returned for their second summer at JAX, having participated in the Chesler lab’s research program designed to increase the diversity of next-generation scientists studying addiction.

The 2024 JAX summer student class at the Farmington campus. The 2024 JAX summer student class at the Farmington campus. (Photo credit: Cloe Poisson)

Several students already have publication credits to their name, with their work appearing in Redox Biology, The Journal of Emerging Investigators and other journals. Others have presented at conferences around the country, including the Society for Neuroscience’s yearly gathering and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists.

They have come to JAX from a range of backgrounds and experiences. One student won a first-place prize at the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair. One has experience in providing end-of-life care, while another has participated in archeological digs. They are musicians, bakers and athletes, as well as volunteers and advocates within their local communities.

Because many alumni have found the SSP experience transformative and wish to enhance it for the next generation, private support for the SSP has long been a driver of philanthropic gifts to JAX. This funding helps provide SSP participants with an immersive residential experience and ensures that JAX continues to benefit from a range of diverse, dynamic perspectives.

Click here to learn more about supporting the Summer Student Program experience.