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Oak Ridge Science Semester

Oak Ridge, Tennessee

United States

Your research, with world-class scientists, at a national laboratory

The Oak Ridge Science Semester (ORSS) offers a unique opportunity for undergraduates to immerse themselves in research at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the nation’s largest multiprogram research laboratory.

ORSS is recognized by the member colleges of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) and the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA). 

 


I had the opportunity to participate in world-class research with some of the top researchers in the country. The researchers took the time to explain the goal of the project but even more, they explained what graduate school life is like. From this experience, I was further prepared for research in graduate school and I also got a publication from our work.

—Lee Pedzisa, chemistry major, Colorado College


The attraction of this program was not only the research, but also the interaction between researchers, and having them for the seminars - this gave me a sense of science as a whole. After the semester, I have been working with my mentor, and I am now doing my senior research with him and some other researchers. 
—Tomomi Sunayama, physics major, Knox College

 

 



Schedule

Fall semester (late August–mid-December)

Host institution

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

Living arrangements

Students live in apartments near the Pellissippi State Community College (PSCC) campus in the Hardin Valley area of Knoxville, Tennessee. Transportation is available on weekdays between PSCC and ORNL.

Program details

Applications are initially reviewed by the Faculty Advisory Committee and representatives from the ACM, GLCA, and ORNL. Approved applications are circulated to one or more ORNL research groups for consideration. Acceptance into the ACM ORSS program is dependent upon successful placement with an ORNL research group.

Resources

Program brochure

Application deadlines

Fall semester 2020 deadline

March 1, 2020

If the deadline has passed and you are interested in applying, contact the ACM Office immediately. Late applications may be accepted on a space-available basis.

Begin your adventure

Program Overview

The ACM Oak Ridge Science Semester (ORSS) offers a unique opportunity for undergraduates to immerse themselves in research at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the nation’s largest multiprogram research laboratory. Mentored by ORNL scientists, students pursue questions in biology and biochemistry; chemistry and nuclear chemistry; computer science; earth and geosciences; energy; engineering; environmental and marine sciences; life, health, and medical sciences; mathematics and statistics; nanotechnology; physics and biophysics; robotics; and much more.

Students will also participate in workshops on scientific communication, career development, graduate school preparation, poster presentations, and tours of ORNL research facilities. Students spend 40 hours per week at the lab, including their research internship and interdisciplinary seminar. Additionally, students may choose to take an advanced course taught by the Visiting Faculty Director on the Pellissippi State Community College (PSCC) campus or select an alternative course from PSCC's course offerings for the fall semester.

Undergraduates from any four-year US college or university are eligible to apply.



Internships

student, hammer in lab

Research Internship (8 credits): Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the largest US Department of Energy (DOE) science and energy laboratory. Its capabilities span a broad range of scientific and engineering disciplines, enabling researchers to explore fundamental science challenges and accelerate the delivery of solutions to the marketplace. ORNL supports DOE’s national missions of scientific discovery, clean energy, and security.   

Students conduct research on a specific project under the guidance of a staff scientist at ORNL, with access to world-leading technologies. You will be expected to contribute significantly to the design and methodological approach of your research. You will also become a member of the vibrant science community at ORNL and will have the opportunity to present your research data for discussion and commentary. Students receive 8 credits for their participation in the internship. 

You can access information about specific research programs and the people who conduct them across the ORNL Research Divisions here. You will be asked to indicate the research areas you are interested in as part of the ACM ORSS application form.  

Students participating in the ACM ORSS receive a stipend of $9,600, subject to available funding. This stipend is paid over regular intervals throughout the semester. The stipend is considered income and is taxable


Academics

student goggles in lab

Interdisciplinary Seminar (4 credits): Students meet weekly for an interdisciplinary seminar series led by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), including topics on scientific communication, career exploration, graduate school preparation, and more. The seminar is intended to broaden students’ perspectives and expose them to the full range of research conducted by staff scientists at ORNL through field trips, lectures, interactive discussions, and tours. Finally, the seminar serves as a forum for students to showcase their own research data for discussion with their peers and colleagues at a poster session at the end of the semester.  

Advanced Course (4 credits): Students can take an advanced course taught by the Visiting Faculty Director on the Pellissippi State Community College campus or select an alternative course from PSCC’s course offerings for the fall semester. Occasionally, students can pursue an independent study under the supervision of the Visiting Faculty Director. Information on the Advanced Course offered by the Visiting Faculty Director in Fall 2020 will be available soon.


Student Life

tree climbing ropes course

Students live in apartments near the Pellissippi State Community College (PSCC) campus in the Hardin Valley area of Knoxville, Tennessee. Students have access to PSCC’s library and recreational facilities. Transportation is available on weekdays between PSCC and ORNL. The Hardin Valley area has a lot to offer ORSS students including retail stores, grocery stores, restaurants, outdoor activities, and more.  

Knoxville, Tennessee is known as a “hidden gem” of the South for all that it offers: outdoor adventures, several museums and galleries, a vibrant nightlife, and a rich cultural history. With a mix of city and nature, Knoxville provides a diverse variety of popular attractions including the Sunsphere, the Knoxville Zoo, and the Navitat Knoxville adventure trail.  



Program Faculty & Staff

Paul Stanley, Program Director and Fall 2020 Visiting Faculty Director

young man with two computer screens

Michael Vertovec, Senior Program Administrator
180 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 2020, Chicago, IL 60601
312.561.5934 / mvertovec@acm.edu

Questions? Contact the Program Director and Senior Program Administrator at orss@acm.edu


Campus Contacts

Please check back for an updated list of ACM and GLCA faculty advisors.

faculty and student in white coats with syringe

Apply

student with arms inside lab apparatus

Applications must be submitted electronically by March 1, 2020 for the Fall 2020 ACM Oak Ridge Science Semester. The ACM ORSS application will be available online soon. In the meantime, please submit a request for information to indicate your interest in applying to the program.

Applicants will be required to submit a transcript, faculty recommendations, responses to several short-answer questions, and an essay. You must also have off-campus study approval from your home campus. Note: your college’s application process may involve additional application materials, and internal campus deadlines may be considerably earlier than ACM's deadline. Be sure to check with your Off-Campus Study Office about your college's application procedures and deadlines.

Applications are initially reviewed by the ORSS Faculty Advisory Committee and representatives from the ACM, GLCA, and ORNL. Approved applications are circulated to one or more ORNL research groups for consideration. Acceptance into the ACM ORSS is dependent upon successful placement with an ORNL research group.

A non-refundable deposit of $50, payable to the ACM, is due upon acceptance and will be applied toward housing and transportation costs. An additional $200 housing deposit is required and will be refunded upon completion of the ACM ORSS provided that no additional cleaning or special repairs are required for the student’s apartment.

Cost and Fees

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