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. 

Here is an overview of the major activities in which SOAR students will participate across the two years of the program:

Program Year 1

  • Orientation for student and parent(s)/family
  • Course -- WGS 257: Behavioral and Social Science Research in HIV: Methods and Perspectives for SGM Communities (Fall & Winter Terms, 3 credits/term; T/Th 4-5:30 pm)
  • Faculty Mentored Research Experience:
    • Each student will be matched with a SOAR Faculty Research Mentor based on mutual research and career interests.
    • Students will work a minimum of 9-12 hours per week
    • Students will participate in research group meetings and receive mentorship on all aspects of the research process such as research design, research ethics and Institutional Review Board (IRB) policies, formulating research questions, methods, and writing up results.
    • Students can earn work-study or grant-funded payment and/or independent study credits for the research experience
  • Conduct informational interviews with members of SOAR faculty and SOAR network
  • Research presentation at spring symposium: Secondary Data Analysis Poster
  • Graduate School Preparation: Spring Intensive (6 weeks in Spring)
    • One-on-one coaching and mentoring to gain practical skills and preparation for fall doctoral program applications
    • Funds are available to pay for housing and a living stipend.
  • Summer Research Continuation (or focused internship) – 6-10 weeks in summer
    • Students will spend the summer after their first year (June-August) either continuing their research experience from the first year, beginning a new research experience that will continue into their second year, or participating in a structured summer internship in an established program focused on public health and/or medical research.

Program Year 2

  • Serve as a peer mentor for incoming SOAR students
  • Course -- Translating HIV Research into Policy and Practice for SGM Communities (Fall & Winter Terms, 1 credit/term)
  • Faculty Mentored Research Experience
    • Students may switch mentors or topics, or continue with the same research experience for senior year
    • 9-12 hours per week of research experience work
    • Students can earn work-study or grant-funded payment and/or independent study credits for the research experience
  • Conduct informational interviews with graduate program faculty in areas and institutions of interest
  • Research presentation at spring symposium: Oral Presentations of Policy or Practice Product
  • Graduate school application support
  • Graduation from SOAR

Combined Cohort Activities

  • Support from SOAR directors and program coordinator
  • Support from graduate student and undergraduate student mentors
  • Individual Development Plans
  • Support from SOAR Program Faculty, SOAR Faculty Research Mentors, and SOAR External Research Mentor Network
  • Psychosocial support workshops
  • Exclusive SOAR program space with lounge and study rooms
  • SOAR website and monthly email newsletters

Questions? Contact Heidi Bennett, Program Coordinator at