Frequently Asked Questions

We understand you may have some questions, please review previously asked questions of those interested in iResearch Academy


What are the ages of the iResearch Academy students?
Some students enter the iResearch Academy as young as 11 years old. Students who wish to complete independent science research projects are usually entering 8th grade and remain in the program until grade 12. Students can stay in the iResearch Academy through their senior year in high school. 

When does iResearch Academy meet?
iResearch Academy meets, starting from September, for 40 sessions of instruction. The coursework is once per week for 1.5 hours (for each course, respectively) during the weekend (Friday - Sunday). Because of time limitations, some students must opt for individual meetings with Dr. McCalla on Sundays. All other one-to-one virtual meetings will take place in the morning or evenings on weekdays. Students may start their day as early as 9 AM and continue until 10 PM EST or later. The schedule will be organized by Dr. McCalla's team for those who opt for one-to-one meetings.

What classes are offered and where?
The core curriculum includes 90-minute sessions, per course, virtually. A full description of all coursework is available on the curriculum page (with detailed descriptions in the syllabus link).

What competition opportunities are available in the iResearch Academy?
Students have frequent opportunities to compete in the iResearch Academy. The number of competitions is based upon participant availability and motivation throughout the academic year.

U.S. senior students are required to complete the Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) as a graduation requirement. First-year students (unless they are seniors) may not wish to compete but can be provided with the support needed to work on independent research project ideas for the following competition year.

Is there a limit on the length of study in the iResearch Academy?
No. Students can enter at a very young age (grade 6) and stay in the iResearch Academy through their senior year in high school.

Is there a way to guarantee admittance? I don't want to subject my child to the rigor of the iResearch Academy application and review process if he or she won't be accepted.
There is no guaranteed admittance into the iResearch Academy. Your child must go through the entire process. The application process is an excellent introduction to the demands and expectations of the professional world, and by going through the application process, your child can get a sense of the standards involved and whether he or she wants to work at this kind of pre-professional STEM developed and exploration level.

Does one pay separately for individual sessions with Dr. McCalla?
No, the tuition covers all activities each year including one-to-one sessions with Dr. McCalla (see participation Options available on tuition page), apart from an extra fee for supplies related to classwork and if required by the regulatory research laboratory of future acceptance.

What is the end goal of the components of the iResearch Academy (iRA)? 
After a one to two years of iRA enrollment along with completed coursework, participants will have the necessary skills for the completion of a research project under the guidance of mentors. Skills attained during coursework will train iRA participants for research related data analyses. Participants will design and complete a research project with guidance directly from Dr. McCalla and mentors. Assignments and expert training will support presentations of research along with the writing of a publication worthy research paper.

What does the schedule of a typical week look like?
Participants will attend coursework on weekends and establish a lifelong mentorship with Dr. McCalla and her team. In addition, we encourage and support competition engagement.

Will there be tests/assessments for the academic components of the program? 
Completion of Essential Question (EQ’s) reports, coursework related assessments/homework, presentations, and research papers are the benchmarks expected to be completed by all participants over the course of their enrollment in the iResearch Academy.

Will participants be paired up with university professors for the current/continuation of the research? 

Participants will identify university professors for continuation of their research (during the summer). The research project can be completed in collaboration with a researcher from a regulated research institution or by participation in iResearch Institute. 

Will participants have a choice in picking a research project? Do you have a list of sample projects? 
Participants will develop a passion for research in a particular field of mathematics and/or science with the assistance of Dr. McCalla in a discipline of their choice. Participants will select the research topic of investigation.
Below are shared examples of previous iResearch projects as a template for success:
○ Bioinformatics analyses determine biomarkers for resistive small cell lung cancer
○ Mitigation of Titanium Dioxide stress and characterization of a putative Brassinosteroid Insensitive-1 gene in Brassica rapa  
○ Identification and Characterization of the DELLA protein in L. minor
○ Influence of salt stress in pharmaceutical and pesticide phytoremediation selectivity using Oryza sativa
○ Multifunctional NGF-Au-SPIOl Nanoparticles: Magnetically Directing Neurite Extension and Orientation
○ High-resolution near-field nanoscopy simulation platform for custom nanomaterial designs
○ Paper-based microbial fuel cells for self-powered sustainable disease monitoring

Will there be any iResearch Academy in person activities?
Yes, we will have virtual group coursework and study sessions. In the future, laboratory meetings and social activities will occur in person. Team activities (fun events) and laboratory meetings will include a review of research topics, collaboration about project goals and data analyses, and presentation practices.