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Frequently Asked Questions

Application and admission to the program

I am interested in projects in more than one department. Can I apply to more than one disciplinary program (for example, Horticulture and Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology? Will my referees need to send letters of reference for each program?

Yes, you may apply to more than one program, but each application is independent of the other(s), so you will need to complete applications for each program AND your referees will need to submit letters of recommendation for each application (although you may choose different referees for each application).  Although you can apply to more than one program, we strongly encourage you to apply to the ONE program that best matches your interest. The selection process is separate for each program, and we have no way of knowing your preferred discipline if you apply to multiple programs.

My university/college is on the quarter system, and I have final exams as late as June 8-10.  Can I arrive to the program late?

You are welcome to apply, however please note that your acceptance to the program is ultimately at the discretion of your faculty mentor, who must decide whether or not it would be acceptable for you to arrive late and if you will have adequate time to complete the project. We are unable to change the dates to better fit your schedule due to our housing agreement with Hobart and William Smith Colleges. In the past, we have had students begin 7-10 days late, and in an extreme case, one student flew back to take their last final exam. If accepted, we recommend you ask your professors if you can take your final exam(s) early or complete it remotely with a proctor (i.e. your faculty mentor in Geneva).

I will have graduated with my Bachelor’s degree by the time the program begins. Can I still apply?

Unfortunately, no. The funding we have is specifically for undergraduates. We require that by June 1, students must have been enrolled for at least one semester (our STRONG preference is six semesters) and still have at least one semester left prior to graduation.  Also, we cannot admit high school students who have not yet enrolled in a Bachelors degree program.

I am currently a Cornell student. Can I participate in the Geneva Summer Scholars program?

Yes, we encourage Cornell undergraduates to apply.  If you already have summer housing in Ithaca, you might choose to ride the free shuttle van that leaves the Ithaca campus daily at 6:45 am and then leaves Geneva at 5:00 pm (4:00 pm on Fridays).  Shuttling between Ithaca and Geneva is a free option, but you would miss out on the comradery of living with the other summer scholars from across the country in Geneva.

I am not a US citizen or permanent resident.  Can I still participate in the program?

Our funding from USDA-NIFA restricts us to only accepting US citizens or permanent residents.  If you have funding from your university or government that is equivalent to our stipends, please contact us to see if you might be able to participate, as the admission process will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

I was a Cornell Summer Research Scholar last year, and I loved it. Can I apply to come back to Geneva again this year?

Yes, you may apply and we will review your application, but our strong preference is to give other students an opportunity to participate.

Who can I contact to find out if my application is complete?

It is always best to ask your referees directly if they have submitted their letters of recommendation, but you may also contact the administrative assistant for the program to which you applied.

When will I hear if I have been accepted or not?

Review of complete applications will begin immediately after the deadline for letters of recommendation.  We typically receive over 100 applications, so we need a few weeks to review them all.  We plan to contact applicants with offers of internships by mid-March, but other applicants may be on a waiting list as we confirm those who accept our offers.  A final decision will be communicated by mid-April at the latest.

If I am offered an internship, what is my deadline for accepting or declining your offer?

Since we will have applicants on a waiting list, we would like to learn your decision to accept or decline our offer as soon as possible, but definitely within a week of receiving the offer.  If you have applied to other programs and want to know if you will receive other offers, be sure to discuss this with your Cornell faculty mentor, so they are aware of your situation.  Typically, almost all of our offers are accepted, but if not, we want to be sure to fill every available internship position.

Do the reference letters have to come from professors?

We hope that you have made real connections with the professors teaching your science courses and mentoring you in a research project, and we strongly recommend the letters come from those professors who have come to know you.  If you are doing research under the mentorship of a post-doc or grad student, they could write a letters too, but we put more weight on the letters from experienced faculty.  


Life as a Cornell Summer Research Scholar

How much science do I need to know?

  • To be eligible for the program, applicants should have completed two, and preferably three, years of college level study in one of the life sciences by June. So, it is assumed you are fairly familiar with basic biological concepts (e.g. essential cell and molecular biology, ecology, evolution, genetics, etc.).
  • You do not necessarily have to have previous research or course experience in the specific program to which you apply. The Summer Scholars program is a chance for you to do research in a field you may not be familiar with (or maybe never even heard of before)!
  • As to specific projects, if you are accepted to the program, your faculty mentor will be in contact with you to give you some background on your project. They may send you articles from scientific journals or other resources for you to read. Though not required, you are highly encouraged to familiarize yourself with the basics of your project before you arrive. The more you know going in, the easier it will be to get started in the lab or field.
  • That said, one of the goals of the Summer Scholar program is for you to get one-on-one mentorship and this includes your mentor teaching you the finer details of your project, which will occur over the course of the summer.

What hours are we expected to work?

Summer Scholars follow the following basic work week: Monday-Thursday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Friday 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, with an hour for lunch every day. However, depending on your project you may have field or lab work that occasionally requires flexibility with your schedule.

Can I get academic credit for this internship?

This will depend on your school and we recommend talking to your academic advisor, department chair or registrar’s office about counting your internship for academic credit. If your school asks you to fulfill additional requirements in order to receive academic credit, be sure to discuss these with your faculty mentor before the start of the program, because you will probably need to write an internship plan with expected academic outcomes.

What is the poster session like?

The poster session, on the last day of the Summer Scholars program, is a chance for you to showcase your work to your fellow Summer Scholars and members of the Cornell-NYSAES community in a low-pressure environment. Typically, half of the Summer Scholars present their poster in the first hour of the session, and the other half presents in the second hour of the session. A catered lunch follows the poster session. It is a good idea to bring a nice outfit (business casual) for this day.

What transportation is available for getting to and from work?

Students who choose to have a car with them for the summer may drive to the Station each day for work (carpooling is highly encouraged due to somewhat limited parking). Also, each department typically provides a vehicle for their Summer Scholars to share for the summer. These vehicles can be used for getting to/from the Station and getting around town during the week. Depending on department policies, these vehicles can also be used for weekend trips around the Finger Lakes region with approval from the department.

What do alumni of the Summer Scholars program do?

  • Science (usually)! For most Scholars, the program gives them a preview of graduate school and many Scholars do go on to pursue Masters or PhD degrees. A number of Summer Scholar alumni are now graduate students at Cornell, at both the Ithaca and Geneva campuses.
  • Others may continue in science, but in fields other than agriculture.

Housing and recreation

What housing arrangements are there?

Summer Scholars will be living in houses on the campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS), about a 5 minute drive from the Station. There is a mix of single and double rooms. Bathrooms, dining/living areas and kitchens are shared. Most of the houses have coin operated washer and dryers. If the house you are assigned to does not have laundry, you can use the facilities in one of the other Summer Scholar houses, use HWS on-campus laundry facilities, or go to a laundromat in Geneva.

What kind of additional activities are there?

  • Historically there has been an organized day trip to the Ithaca campus in late June or early July for Summer Scholars to meet some of the Ithaca-based professors and learn more about graduate education in the PPPMB department. Summer Scholars are also encouraged to participate in a field course offered by the department: the course involves full-day field trips once or twice a week and gives students a chance to learn about NYS agriculture firsthand.
  • Social activities are up to you! Past Summer Scholars have organized weekend day trips to Niagara Falls, Rochester, Corning, Watkins Glen, and Ithaca and overnight trips to NYC and camping in the Adirondacks. The Finger Lakes region is particularly beautiful in summer, so get out and explore!

What kind of town is Geneva, NY? 

  • Geneva is city of about 13,000 that prides itself on being “uniquely urban” and blends many characteristics of a typical upstate NY town with those of a much larger city. The city center is home to a variety of restaurants, shops, and businesses, just a short walk from Seneca Lake. Like most upstate NY towns, Geneva features copious historical architecture.
  • Geneva is also centrally located, with Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca, Watkins Glen and Corning all only an hour’s drive away.

Do I need to bring kitchen supplies? Are we responsible for our own meals?

  • Yes, you are responsible for your own meals. We cannot offer meal plans to HWS dining halls, so most Scholars find it most convenient to cook their own food. There are several grocery stores in town, including Wegmans, Tops, and Walmart. Additionally, there are farmers markets and farm stores nearby.
  • Each house has a full kitchen (i.e. stove, oven, refrigerator, sink, and microwave). The Summer Scholars Program will provide essential kitchen supplies (i.e. pots, pans, cooking utensils, dishes, silverware, etc.) for each house. Summer Scholars may also bring their own supplies, if they choose.

Approximately how many students will I be living with?

This will depend on which houses HWS assigns to us, but on average each house will have 5-7 students. If we are assigned one of the larger houses, there may be up to 12 students in a house. There is a mix of single and double rooms.

Is there a gym available?

Hobart and William Smith Colleges graciously include gym access with housing. You can use the weight room and field house on campus -the Bristol Field House- for free. They will make a temporary ID card for you. Geneva is also a great town for running and biking. Seneca Lake State Park is only about a mile and a half from the housing on the HWS campus.

Can I keep a pet in summer scholar housing?

No, unfortunately pets are not allowed in Hobart and William Smith student housing, so you may not keep a pet there as a summer scholar.