Activities & Requirements

The Student Opportunities for AIDS/HIV Research (SOAR) program is a two-year intensive academic and research mentoring experience for juniors and seniors at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in order to prepare them for graduate education and eventual research careers in behavioral and social science research (BSSR) on HIV/AIDS, with a focus on sexual and gender minority communities. The SOAR program includes HIV-focused research experiences with U-M faculty mentors, required classes, and ongoing mentorship. 

Research Experiences

SOAR students engage in HIV-focused research with prominent behavioral and social science faculty during the academic year, plus a summer research experience. Students have the option of doing these research experiences with the same or different faculty members.

Coursework:

Students are required to take two year-long classes that are crosslisted in Women's & Gender Studies and Public Health (WGS/PUBHLTH).

During their junior year, students take Behavioral and Social Science Research in HIV: Methods and Perspectives for Sexual and Gender Minority Communities (fall & winter terms, 3 credits/term). In their senior year, students take the year-long course, Translating HIV Research into Policy and Practice for SGM Communities, (fall & winter terms)

Mentorship:

SOAR scholars will be paired with a faculty mentor and a graduate student mentor in their junior year. In addition, students have access to the SOAR External Research Mentor Network, with faculty and researchers from more than 50 universities and institutions across North America. In their second year of the program, students serve as peer mentors for the incoming cohort.

Program Requirements & Benefits

During junior year, students are required to:

  • Conduct HIV and/or SGM-focused research 9-12 hours per week for the full academic year (both Fall and Winter Terms), including 
    • Attending weekly meetings with faculty research mentors, and 
    • Attending research team meetings as determined by your mentor
  • Engage with a community of student researchers by enrolling in the required year-long seminar course, Behavioral and Social Science Research in HIV: Methods and Perspectives for SGM Communities (Fall & Winter, 3 credits/term)
  • Present a poster of secondary data analysis at the annual Dr. John Lamont Peterson Annual Research Symposium (held in spring).
  • Participate inthe SOAR Graduate School Preparation Spring Intensive (4 weeks in person in May)
  • Complete summer research or a focused internship (6-10 weeks in June-July)
  • Students will spend the summer after their first year (June-July) continuing their research experience, conducting a new short-term research experience, or participating in a structured summer internship in an established program focused on behavioral and social science research.
  • Attend orientation and holistic support sessions as scheduled
  • Meet with SOAR Academic Counselor at least twice per year to discuss Individual Development Plan
  • Have regular meetings with SOAR Graduate Student Mentors

During senior year, students are required to:

  • Prepare application materials for graduate school programs (including taking the GRE)
  • Apply to at least one doctoral program in the social or behavioral sciences
  • Serve as a peer mentor for incoming SOAR students
  • Conduct informational interviews with graduate program faculty in areas and institutions of interest
  • Continue research activities independently
  • Engage with a community of student researchers by enrolling in the mandatory year-long seminar course, Translating HIV Research into Policy and Practice for SGM Communities (Fall & Winter). 
  • Give an oral research presentation on policy or practice at the annual Dr. John Lamont Peterson Annual Research Symposium (held in spring).
  • Provide feedback to the junior year cohort members’ poster presentations at the annual Dr. John Lamont Peterson Annual Research Symposium (held in spring).
  • Attend holistic support sessions as scheduled
  • Meet with SOAR Academic Counselor at least twice per year to discuss Individual Development Plan
  • Have regular meetings with your SOAR Graduate Student Mentor

Benefits

  • Mentored research experiences with leading scholars in behavioral and social science research related to HIV/AIDS and/or SGM communities
  • Students may be eligible to receive work-study funded payment and/or independent study credits for the research experiences
  • Academic credit (8 total credits) for required courses
  • Graduate school prep & GRE tutoring
  • Experience presenting at an undergraduate-focused research conference, with travel, lodging, and conference registration fees paid (subject to COVID restrictions)
  • Spring and summer living stipend
  • Exclusive use of a personal laptop and free printing for the two years of the program
  • Holistic support and well-being workshops
  • Lane Hall study & lounge space exclusively for SOAR students
  • Support from SOAR directors, staff, graduate student mentors, peer mentors, and faculty research mentors
  • ​Access to the National Research Mentoring Network, an evidence-based virtual platform with a nationwide consortium of investigators, professionals and institutions across all career stages of biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social science research.

Questions? Contact Heidi Bennett, Program Coordinator at soar.info@umich.edu