Southern Research’s Summer Internship Program for STEM Educators (SIPSE) is a professional development program for Alabama high school teachers. Implemented by Southern Research’s STEM Outreach Program, SIPSE provides paid summer internships for 9th- through 12th-grade STEM educators in research laboratories at Southern Research (Birmingham, AL), the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL), and the University of West Alabama (Livingston, AL). Teachers spend six weeks learning first-hand how scientists and engineers approach problems, design experiments, interpret data, communicate findings, and develop and implement workplace solutions. SIPSE offers Alabama educators real-world applications of the subjects they teach, allowing them to increase content knowledge and gain practical examples of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics applications for enriched instruction and teaching practices based on evidence-based experiences.

Key Dates

Applications due – March 22
First Day of Program – June 10
Last Day of Program – July 19

SIPSE Fellows Are Required to:

  • Complete all components of the summer fellowship experience required by SIPSE and the sponsoring research group.
  • Attend all summer professional development meetings and workshops.
  • Complete an Action Plan that includes a personal or school team strategy for improving the way STEM subjects are taught in your classroom based upon your summer experience.
  • Take part in program evaluation, upon acceptance and extending throughout the year after your SIPSE fellowship.
  • Invite Southern Research staff to your classroom during the following school year to verify implementation of the Action Plan.

SIPSE Provides:

  • Teachers with a $4500 stipend for their participation in the program.
  • Professional learning credits upon successful completion of all program requirements.
  • Weekly professional development workshops offered throughout the summer.
  • Up to $500 for the teacher to purchase supplies needed to support their Action Plan (lab supplies, computer software, etc.).
  • Feedback to the teacher’s principal and system coordinator on your Action Plan.


  • 9th-12th grade teachers employed full time in public or private schools with primary teaching assignments in science, technology, engineering, math, computer science or education. Teachers must be assigned a full-time teaching load during the academic year prior to the appointment and expect to do the same during the following year.
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status.
  • Live in or have the ability to commute to Birmingham, AL; Tuscaloosa, AL; or Livingston, AL.

2019 SIPSE Positions

Project Title: Efficacy of novel PD-1 inhibitors in normal and humanized mouse models of chronic sepsis

Summary: Sepsis is a bacterial infection of the bloodstream. Every year there are more than 1.7 million people that get sepsis in the US and over 270,000 of these patients die each year. PD-1 is a protein on the surface of immune cells that acts as an immune stop sign. In cancer and sepsis it is inappropriately triggered, leading to a decreased immune response.  We want to test our human PD-1 inhibitors in two mouse models of sepsis – the standard mouse model and a humanized model that expresses the human PD-1 protein, which is important because it will allow us to test actual human therapeutics.

Division: Drug Development

Core Subject(s): Anatomy & Physiology, Biology, Chemistry

Project Title: Two-sided Petri Plate

Summary: The goal of this project is to develop a two-sided petri plate for rapid screening of environmental bacteria for production of useful antibiotics. The SIPSE Fellow will use additive manufacturing to prototype the new plate.

Division: Drug Development

Core Subject(s): Anatomy & Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering

Project Title: Bioprinting a 3D Tumor Environment for Drug Discovery

Summary: The goal for this SIPSE Fellowship will be to establish solid tumor 3D cultures in Breast, Colon, and Brain cancers models.

Division: Drug Discovery

Core Subject(s):  Biology, Computer Science, Engineering

Project Title: Novel catalytic materials for high throughput production of valuable chemicals from industrial wastes or renewable feedstock

Summary: Study comprises development of new high performance catalysts that can use low cost feedstock, renewable (biomass) or industrial waste (flue gas), for economic and environment friendly production of valuable commodity chemicals for different applications.

Division: Energy & Environment

Core Subject(s):  Chemistry, Engineering, Environmental Science

Project Title: Quantitative, cell-specific localization of Parkinson’s disease susceptibility genes to inform mechanistic and biomarker studies

Summary: Use developed protocols and techniques to identify the precise localization and quantification of multiple mRNAs in specific cell types with in a heterogeneous cell population in mouse and human brain tissues.

Division: Drug Discovery

Core Subject(s): Biology, Neuroscience

Project Title: Anatomic Pathology-Rodent Necropsy

Summary: Training in rodent necropsy and collection/photography of tissues, preparation of tissues for slide preparation, and development of a standard slide set for rodent tissues.

Division: Drug Development

Core Subject(s): Anatomy & Physiology, Biology

Project Title: Optimization of a transgenic mouse colony.

Summary: You will learn how to work in a transgenic mouse (mice expressing human genes) breeding colony. While learning and performing the duties you will critically evaluate procedures with the goal of recommending changes that will optimize workflow, while ensuring animal welfare.

Division: Drug Development

Core Subject(s): Anatomy & Physiology, Biology

Project Title: DIY Photo-Redox Reactor and its use in Synthesis

Summary: The SIPSE Fellow will build a photo-redox reactor and run several reactions. As time allows, the SIPSE Fellow may gain experience in the synthesis of small molecule pharmaceutical intermediates.

Division: Drug Discovery

Core Subject(s): Chemistry

Project Title: Modeling and Analysis of Energy Storage System Performance and Operation

Summary: As part of Southern Research’s Energy Storage Research Center, a number of energy storage systems are under test; the data from these tests needs to be analyzed and models of system performance need to be developed. The results collected by the Energy Storage Research Center will help support the widespread implementation of energy storage to the grid. This position will support the energy storage team in their analysis using a variety of tools including R, Matlab among others, and will assist in the development of report and conference presentation material.

Division: Energy & Environment

Core Subject(s): Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Physical Science, Physics

Project Title: Synthesis of Pharmaceutical Intermediates

Summary: This will be an experience making several intermediates for pharmaceutical targets.

Division: Drug Discovery

Core Subject(s): Chemistry

Project Title: Development of an Environmental Monitoring Device using “Internet of Things Technology”

Summary: Environmental monitoring is vital to Preservation and Protection Ecology. Understanding the baseline, long standing complexities, and the effects of human interaction is key. The purpose of this project is to integrate the power of STEM based education, the Internet of Things (IoT), Entrepreneurship, and Citizen Science. The combination of these fields will give students and teachers access to real-time data that can be used to develop solutions to local, community, and worldwide challenges.

Division: Energy & Environment

Core Subject(s):  Computer Science, Environmental Science, Engineering, Chemistry, Physical Science

Project Title: Developing a drinking water treatment pilot plant for treating surface and groundwater, and monitoring the impacts anthropogenic and nonanthropogenic contaminants have on treatment optimization.

Summary: The objective of this project is to understand the importance of groundwater and surface water resources within the hydrological cycle and study the anthropogenic impacts (e.g., pharmaceuticals, personal care products, etc.) and natural impacts (e.g., climate change, droughts, hurricanes, dissolved organic matter) have on the water sources. We will explore a water treatment pilot plant to treat both ground and surface water including, coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, biological filtration, and disinfection to properly mitigate the adverse anthropogenic and nonanthropogenic contaminants.

Division: *Note: This position will be located in Tuscaloosa, AL at the University of Alabama, Center for Water Quality Research

Core Subject(s): Chemistry, Biology, Engineering, Environmental Science

Project Title: Tapping into Microbial Diversity of Alabama’s Black Belt

Summary: This internship can be conducted in one of two major projects. First, to identify microbial community in the Black Belt soil and to discover antibiotic producing bacteria in order to help with threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Second, identify the microbial community associated with wild plants growing in the Black Belt area to discover beneficial microbes that can improve our farming practices and crop production. The program will allow trainees to develop curriculum to involve their high school students in scientific research, provide them with hands-on experience, and encourage them to continue their academic pursuits in a STEM related discipline.

Division:  This position will be located in Livingston, AL at the University of West Alabama.

Core Subject(s): Biology, Chemistry, STEM education

2018 SIPSE Class

From left to right: Raisa Eady, Pinson Valley HS; Samantha Davis, Russell County HS; Jacqueline Thomas-Edwards, McAdory HS; Kathryn Lanier, SR STEM Education Outreach Director; Jay LeCroy, Chilton County HS; Janet Ort, Hoover HS; Candyce Monroe, Tarrant HS

Become a SIPSE Sponsor

As a SIPSE sponsor you will have the opportunity to inspire those who first inspired you. For many of us, we can point to a specific teacher who first believed in our intellectual abilities or inspired us to pursue a career in the STEM field. This is a way to say “Thank you.” SIPSE sponsors will introduce high school STEM educators to real world applications of the subjects they teach, bringing new meaning to inquiry, problem solving, and reasoning.

Benefits of Participation

1. By sponsoring just one teacher, you will be impacting and inspiring the lives of hundreds of students in a given school year. Imagine the possibilities that can grow from an opportunity like that!

2. Our SIPSE Fellows are bright and motivated individuals who participate in this program for the sole purpose of learning, growing, and strengthening the foundations of their students. Their pure intentions and enthusiasm bring new perspectives to the work environment.

3. You will be playing a direct role in strengthening the STEM curriculum taught in Alabama and contributing to a better prepared workforce.

4. The opportunity for involvement with your SIPSE teacher’s students through guest speaking, class field trips, etc.


What are the goals of SIPSE?

  1. Improve and develop science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills, knowledge, and abilities.
  2. Nurture teaching based on inquiry, problem solving and “real world” relevance.
  3. Foster an increase in student inquiry skills and positive attitudes toward the sciences and mathematics.

What are the dates of the program?

June 10th-July 19th

Where will the SIPSE internships be located?

The majority of SIPSE placements will be in research laboratories at Southern Research. Southern Research is located in Birmingham, AL. There are also a few internships available at the University of Alabama located in Tuscaloosa, AL and the University of West Alabama located in Livingston, AL.

Does Southern Research provide housing?

No, Southern Research will not provide summer housing.

Are the dates of the program flexible? I have other professional development workshops that are required by my school system.

Possibly. This is solely at the discretion of your sponsoring research mentor and must be indicated on your application. The days in which you will be absent must be made up at the end of the program. All SIPSE fellows are required to complete the first week of the program as there will be essential safety training and Southern Research orientation that cannot be rescheduled.

How many hours/week am I expected to work?

We expect teachers to work between 30-40 hours/week. Your schedule is determined by your sponsoring research mentor. Most research groups follow an 8-4 schedule.

Is this similar to other professional development workshops I have participated in?

Far from it. This is not a workshop. If you are looking for a program that digs deep into standards and focuses heavily on pedagogy, SIPSE is not for you. We will not teach you how to teach, but rather how to think. We want you to experience failure. We want you to live the life of a scientist!

How are teachers selected?

Following an initial screening process, we allow the research mentors to select their summer interns. They may select their intern based solely upon the submitted application or they may choose to select their intern through an interview process.

What if I am placed in a lab that is not in my field of expertise?

The goal of SIPSE is to challenge you. Each and every teacher who is awarded a SIPSE fellowship is an exceptional educator who excels in the classroom. We select the best of the best. We want you to challenge yourself and push yourself to learn something new. We love to see teachers working on projects outside their comfort zone!

I have never worked in a laboratory before. Will this hurt my chances of being selected?

Absolutely not. Each research group will select their teacher for different reasons. While some groups prefer a teacher with research experience, others do not. In fact, many SIPSE mentors see the value of sponsoring a teacher with little to no research experience.



  • Read through the entire application and prepare your free response questions before you begin.
  • Be as detailed as possible in your application.
  • Remember, all applicants are teachers. Think about what sets you a part and be sure to show that in your application.
  • SIPSE mentors want to see your passion in your application. They want to see that you are committed and excited about this opportunity.
  • Proof read your application before submitting.
  • Be open to research areas outside your comfort zone. Perhaps you are a biology teacher who is uncomfortable with chemistry. We encourage that you be open to working on a chemistry based project. The more flexible you are, the better your chances are for placement.


If you are interested in becoming a SIPSE fellow and have additional questions, please contact Dr. Kathryn Lanier, STEM Education Outreach Director, at klanier@southernresearch.org.