Program Overview: Why Apply?

The Biocomplexity Research Experience for High Schoolers (BREHS) is an educational program open to aspiring scientists, grades 9 to 12. BREHS prepares students to pursue highly competitive STEM majors, offering hands-on training in college-level research activities. Each of these non-paid internship positions include the following opportunities.

team of high schoolers working together on a lab experiment

Make a real impact. BREHS students participate in hands-on research activities in each of our institute's Leading Laboratories—work that’s promoting health and safety worldwide. At the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech, our projects help fight major disease outbreaks, strengthen national security, and promote healthy communities.

Discover new interests. Our students work in teams, closely supported by undergraduate students, graduate research assistants, and faculty. Your instructors will introduce you to the latest discoveries in a wide variety of fields: statistics, biology, computer science, public policy, just to name a few.

Build a foundation for your future career. Our institute's educational programs allow students to start building early professional connections. Our "alumni" have gone to study at prestigious universities like Virginia Tech and have established careers at the Department of Defense, Department of Health, Bloomberg, and Amazon.

About the Institute

Before applying to the BREHS program, students are encouraged to consider how their long-term educational interests fit in with the research conducted by the Biocomplexity Institute's Leading Laboratories:

  • The Mathematical Biocomplexity Laboratory explores the structure of life's basic building blocks: DNA and RNA. Students with a deep interest in both mathematics and biology may find success in the MBL.
  • The Nutritional Immunology and Molecular Medicine Laboratory develops new technologies that speed up the discovery process for treatments of chronic diseases. Students whose interests include nutrition, healthcare, and the emerging field of precision medicine will enjoy taking part in NIMML's research.
  • The Biosystems Research Laboratories work to expand our understanding of human health, from the causes of cancer to the make-up of our cells. These labs offer a wide variety of hands-on research opportunities for students who prefer one-on-one mentorship in a small group setting.

Program Structure

high school researcher works with high-tech lab equipment

Key Features

  • Unpaid internship positions are available through BREHS in the fall, spring, and summer semesters
  • Team research with dedicated undergraduate students, graduate students, and research faculty
  • Opportunities to present findings in technical reports and scientific publications
  • Meaningful research that addresses major challenges in science, social policy, industry, and public service
  • An introduction to essential tools for scientific and statistical computing

How to Apply

To apply for the BREHS program, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Currently be enrolled in high school or an educationally equivalent program
  • Complete our online application
  • Email us a copy of your resume and cover letter

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact us.


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