has anyone been to UCSB’s Summer Research Academies (used to be called SERA) and is willing to share their experience? hopefully corona doesn’t make us do the research remotely even though it probably will, but if we do end up going to Santa Barbara, what was the experience like?

i’m gonna tag people from last year’s forum who said they enrolled in 2019 to see if they can give any info @didibear21 @ffcollege @Jack_Duerk

Hi, I did that marine biology track last year and it was such a great experience! I made so many friends who I am still in touch with and my instructor for the program was amazing. It was a great balance of learning how to conduct research and hanging out at the beach with friends! Let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to answer based on my experience.

wow seems dope! for your research, was it intensive (not relative to RMP lol) and did it feel like you actually made a valuable contribution? i’m just scared that 4 weeks isn’t enough to learn about ur fault, formulate your own project, then conduct research on it. also can you tell me some of the things you did every day after you were done researching? i assume you don’t just research from when u wake up until u sleep lmao. sorry for so many questions last one in this text i promise lmao how much freedom did you get to do your own thing around campus? @ffcollege

For my research project, I studied coral bleaching. Santa Barbara does not have coral reefs, so my group wrote a meta-analysis research paper which meant that we pretty much just read other research papers and created our own data sets and figures from that (I know a lot of other groups did this to). It also definitely depends on which track you are doing, I know that marine bio was one of the less rigorous tracks. I felt like rather than making a significant contribution to research, it was more that I learned how to conduct, document, and present my own research. You get a lot of freedom on a daily basis since you only have class 4 days a week, but on days that you don’t have class there are a lot of mandatory activities organized by summer discovery (which was the housing company with the counselors). For example, they would take us on buses to the beach and to movies. You could also sign up for activities such as paddle boarding, weekend trips to channel islands, and hikes. Other than the activities, we had to stay on campus (you are allowed to go to the beach too) or within certain bounds of Isla Vista. After class my friends and I would go shopping/get food in Isla vista, go to the beach (a lot), explore the campus, or go to the recreation center to workout or swim in the pool. I strongly recommend bringing a bike or renting one there (they had special deals for summer programs) bc the campus is pretty large so it makes transportation a lot easier. Also, after going one time first with a counselor you are allowed to take the bus to State Street which was fun. I wanted to bring my surfboard but they don’t let you surf unless it is part of their surf lesson program which you have to pay extra for which is annoying but I think it was for liability reasons. This was really long but I hope this is helpful!

that was so helpful, thank you so much! the program seems cool i just hope it doesnt get cancelled lol.

@al3xisrobles i applied but haven’t gotten my decision back yet, what were your stats and/or personal statement if you don’t mind me asking

sorry for the late reply! I don’t mind at all. my stats were pretty low compared to everyone else that’s why I applied to SRA and not RMP cause im not a robot lmao. I applied to Track 6, one of the ones for computer science.


3.98 UW GPA (4.45 cumulative weighted)
1460 SAT

co-founded 2 clubs on programming and tutoring
taught kids to program
volunteer at coding school
volunteer at Boston’s museum of science in tech field


I think the thing that got me in was a few days after I received my waitlist letter, I wrote an email talking about the things I’ve been doing during quarantine and how much it would mean to me if I got into SRA and they let me in 3 days after lol. here’s my personal statement:

I often saw my mother tearing up over her financial trouble. While I could not financially support my parents as a young child, I began to apply myself academically in hopes of becoming successful to ensure the financial security of future loved ones. In search of an academic passion, I discovered computer science, and I fell in love with it.
I devoted my free time to learning the many applications of computer science, including the summer before my sophomore year when I attended the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY), a 3-week summer program for academically inclined students, wherein I enrolled in the Fundamentals of Computer Science class. After the course, I self-studied for the AP Computer Science A test which I received a score of 5 on. I returned to CTY to enroll in their Physics course, and with what I learned I created a physics engine and a double-pendulum simulation. I am currently enrolled in an advanced Calculus II class outside of school, which has enabled me to combine mathematics with computer science. While simple, the neural networks I developed utilized calculus and programming fundamentals that enabled me to create more intricate projects such as a visual path-finding algorithm.
For my community, I have taught the students at my local elementary school to program basically and co-founded a tutoring club as well as a Java programming club at my high school. I also volunteer at Boston’s Museum of Science, introducing technical concepts to visitors, and at my local coding school, I assist with projects and teaching with my knowledge in programming.
SRA can extend the impact of my work from teaching to creating change on a larger scale. Because of my family’s financial adversity, I hope to use computing to take a step towards the eradication of poverty. Although a daunting ambition, SRA offers the resources I need to pursue research in helping the underprivileged. As a member of the Hispanic community, an example of a disheartening issue is that health problems in Mexico are typically only treated during critical phases; however, data-driven, computer science research can be used to predict health care patterns and diagnose diseases. Artificial intelligence, such as in track 6, can use algorithms to implement such a project in low-income regions. In addition, the wearable technology described in track 3 can be used to create affordable technology that the impoverished may need but cannot afford. On top of the courses, the networking opportunities that SRA provides can also help me build towards my goal.
It is due to my childhood that I am forever searching to discover more in a partially discovered science. I hope to close this gap to completion through the diligent application that research at UCSB warrants. Whether I will drive innovation in engineering, education, or another computer science field, I want to make positive change in the world. With the resources, opportunities, and rigor of SRA, I can achieve such a goal for the ones who truly need it.

@aanikabedi ^

Unfortunately, they said its gonna be online (I also applied for track 6 and was accepted), although I don’t think that will affect computer science ones nearly as much as the other science one.

online doesn’t really sound as good… especially for the science ones, i wish i could get my application money (for both RMP and SRA, as in total that was $175). i wouldn’t have applied for a science lab track if it was ONLINE. lol


@al3xisrobles If you don’t mind, can you post the email that you followed up with? Who did you send it to? I was waistlisted for RMP so I’m thinking about writing an email. Thank you!

@plantbased4lyfe sure! I would send them an email ASAP. I’m pretty sure Lina Kim runs all the pre-college programs, so I think I would send it to her for RMP. I sent mine to her for SRA.

Dear Lina Kim and UCSB’s Admissions Committee for Summer Sessions,

I would like to sincerely thank you and the admissions committee for taking the time to look through my application and offering me an opportunity to be on the waiting list. I want to take this opportunity to display my continued interest in SRA and update the admissions committee on some of my small accomplishments since applying.

UCSB’s Summer Research Academies is still my number one choice for summer STEM research, and if accepted off the waitlist, I would happily attend. Although I have been accepted to other programs and am still waiting to hear from one more, I would undoubtedly enroll in SRA if given the opportunity. The spirit, ethos, and values that UCSB and SRA espouse are so crucial to me that, in combination with the opportunities and resources offered there, I would choose no other research program.

While COVID-19 has forced my school to shut down, I have not let that stop me from continuing my education. In addition to studying for AP exams, working out, and improving my skills with the guitar and drum kit, my main focus is still on my love for programming. I have made substantial progress on my algorithmic pathfinding visualizer, which, written in JavaScript, visually displays various algorithms as they calculate the shortest distance from A to B while avoiding user-created walls. This project has grown my appreciation for computer science’s capability to solve quantitative challenges, but I am ready to study its qualitative ability through Track 6’s research with artificial intelligence and image recognition.

The project was the most complex and challenging I have undertaken, but I resisted letting the setbacks define my programming ability and, instead, allow them to point me in the direction of success. This will continue when researching at UCSB as I will learn through my failures and successes not only to accomplish a successful project but to become a successful researcher. I hope to gain the experience of researching in an environment where the students and mentors promote and practice resilience to its fullest, and SRA fits this description.

SRA has distinguished itself as an intensive program, and I am continuously in awe as I read about students’ experiences there. I would like to thank the admissions committee once again for reviewing my application, and I would eagerly enroll if offered a position for SRA’s Track 6 this summer.

Alexis Robles

hi @al3xisrobles , I was accepted by SRA but still had some questions regarding the program. Based on your experience last year, are the mentors and teachers of the program mostly graduate students or professors/research staff at UCSB? How much interaction did you have with professors/research staff during the program? (I really wish to get a strong recommendation letter from my research mentor after I finish SRA, so I would like to obtain a general idea about who my mentors will be)

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@SusanWang22 I actually didn’t do it last year, I’m wondering the same thing!

I just submitted my application three days ago! How long did y’all’s decisions take to come out? Also I don’t live in California is there a priority for in-state applications?

Did they extend the deadline? It took about 3 weeks for my decision although I submitted it early March, before most people submitted it

Anybody got response from the program? I got a notification WAITLIST. Is there any possibly I can get off the waitlist given the fact that most summer programs are no longer available? I am not optimistic.

I’d say the best thing to do is email the director of the program explaining why you want to go and how the program will impact you!