Apply for the 2024 LASER Program

Letters and Science Excellence in Research

Curious about research?

The L&S STEM Scholars LASER Program is designed to give selected undergraduate students an opportunity to take a step into exploring how STEM research is conducted at the college level. Students learn how research projects are designed and how to be part of the collaborative research team mentored by a UW–Madison faculty, staff member, or graduate student.

Introducing STEM research
to first-year Badgers

The 2024 LASER Program will support about 20 undergraduate students in the College of Letters & Science:

  • one 1-credit course in the Spring term
  • one 1-credit course in the Summer term
  • 8-week summer paid research position (includes free campus housing!)

The application to join LASER ’24 is already closed.

Plese contact Assistant Dean José J. Madera, Assistant Director for STEM initiatives at the L&S Center for Academic Excellence if you have any questions. • 608-262-4417



You may be a good fit for LASER if you:

  • started at UW–Madison in the Summer 2023 or Fall 2023 semesters
  • will have completed at least 24 credits at UW–Madison by the end of the Spring 2024 semester
  • interest in L&S majors related to STEM—but you do not need to have declared a major yet—such as:
  • Applied Mathematics, Engineering, and Physics
  • Astronomy—Physics
  • Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Botany
  • Cartography and Geographic Information Systems
  • Chemistry
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Computer Sciences
  • Conservation Biology
  • Data Science
  • Economics
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Geography
  • Geology and Geophysics
  • Information Science
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Mathematics
  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Neurobiology
  • Physics
  • Statistics
  • Zoology

Get questions answered

Contact Assistant Dean José J. Madera, Assistant Director for STEM initiatives at the L&S Center for Academic Excellence. • 608-262-4417


one Spring course, one Summer course, 8-week Summer research position

1   “Exploring Research in STEM” (INTEGSCI 150)

SPRING 2024 semester, meets on campus weekly on Wednesdays, 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm (1 credit; tuition covered by the student)
Developed by WISCIENCE, the Wisconsin Institute for Science Education and Community Engagement.

Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URS) selected for LASER participants will continue in their regular URS seminar in the spring instead of this course.

  • Learn about different approaches in science research
  • Gain skills in reading scientific literature
  • Deepen your understanding of how the scientific method translates into real experimental designs
  • Explore STEM careers involving research

2   “Entering Research Part I” (INTEGSCI 260)
SUMMER 2024, June 17 to August 9, meets on campus weekly on Wednesdays, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm (1 credit; tuition covered by the LASER Program)

This course gives you tools and skills to help you create a successful relationship with a faculty or staff research mentor and tailor your research experience to your interests and goals.

  • Learn about the roles, responsibilities, and relationships that make for a successful research experience
  • Develop science communication skills through reading, writing, and presenting research
  • Learn about and discuss strategies to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM

3   Do research!
SUMMER 2024, June 17 to August 9 (8 weeks)

$16 per hour, approximately 30 hours per week, on campus

Students in the L&S LASER Program will be matched with an ongoing UW–Madison research project in STEM fields. The full list of options will be set in Spring 2024, after applicants are selected for the program. Examples from 2023 include:

  • Understanding Recovery and Development in Children with Early Brain Injury and Cerebral Palsy
    with Associate Professor Bernadette Gillick, PhD, MSPT, PT (Department of Pediatrics)
  • Understanding the Host Galaxy of an Extremely Red Quasar
    with Associate Professor Christy Tremonti (Department of Astronomy) and Dr. Gregory Mosby, NASA
  • Cracking Skin Microbiome Competition: Finding New Drugs in the Human Skin
    with Assistant Professor Lindsay Kalan and PhD candidate Thy Nguyen (Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology)

…and yes, students who had just completed one year of college worked on these projects!

URS Scholars selected for LASER may have an option to continue their current research project, depending on their research mentor and other factors.

Other benefits

HOUSING. — Participating students have the option to live in a UW–Madison residence hall during the eight weeks of the summer program. There is no cost for the residence hall stay, and a specific hall and room will be assigned. Most students will have an assigned roommate.

Housing is generously provided by the Division of Continuing Studies Summer Housing Boost. No separate application is needed; the LASER Program will make all the arrangements.

TUITION AND ENROLLMENT. — Enrollment in the Spring 2024 course is part of a student’s regular Spring schedule and included in their Spring tuition costs. Tuition for the Summer 2024 course is covered by the L&S LASER program at no cost to the student.

While your application is pending, we recommend that you hold open the Wednesday 5:30 pm–6:30 pm period in your Spring course schedule, if no other needed Spring courses are affected.