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Aspirnaut™ – Undergraduate Discovery Science Experience in Renal Biology and Disease


Aspirnaut™ is a K-20 STEM Pipeline for Diversity with the goal of increasing the numbers and diversity of the STEM workforce. The Aspirnaut™ Summer Research Internships are hands-on and mentored laboratory experiences for high school and undergraduate students interested in a career in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).

About the Summer Experience:

The program will run from May 27 – August 3, 2024 (10 weeks). Participants will receive a stipend of $650 per week (up to a total of $6,500). The cost of travel to the Kidney, Urology, Hematology (KUH) Summer Undergraduate Research Conference from July 31 to August 2, 2024 at the University of Virginia, is covered by the program and is a requirement of participation.

There are two principle aims for this program:

  1. An intense research experience for undergraduate students involving crafting of questions, designing and conducting experiments, and presenting and arguing results on the topic of “Renal Biology and Disease.”
  2. To augment the discovery science experience with guided professional skills development and guided self-discovery.

Participants conduct research activities at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC). Research assignments are coordinated under the direction of Billy Hudson, Ph.D., Scientific Director for the Aspirnaut™ Summer Research Internship Program and Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Matrix Biology. Interns join a mentor research lab and work with a mentor on the topic of renal biology and disease. Interns are fully engaged in their research project and meet regularly to discuss their projects with scientific mentors and to interact with distinguished guest speakers. At the end of the program, interns prepare abstracts, give oral and poster presentations to their peers and mentors, and attend the KUH Undergraduate Research Conference.

Activities and assignments will vary within a standard nine-to-five timeframe in laboratory atmospheres, with evenings and weekends available for the participants to complete assignments. In addition to the laboratory experience, participants receive training in a variety of areas including science communication skills, individual career planning, psychological principles for thriving, and more. There is plenty of free time to explore the university, the city of Nashville, and its surrounding areas.


  • The program will run from May 28 – August 2, 2024 (10 weeks).
  • Participants will receive a stipend of $650 per week (up to a total of $6,500).
  • Housing will be provided at one of the Vanderbilt University campus dormitories.
  • The cost of travel to the Kidney, Urology, Hematology (KUH) Summer Undergraduate Research Conference (location TBA), is covered by the program and is a requirement of participation.


  • Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors with a GPA of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale and who are in good standing at their primary institution are eligible. Rising seniors should have at least one semester remaining of their undergraduate education at the start of the summer program.
  • Applicants should have completed college biology and chemistry or biochemistry courses.
  • Candidates should demonstrate interest in/potential to pursue graduate study (i.e., Ph.D., M.D., M.S.) toward an advanced degree in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields and biomedical research.
  • Recruitment of participants includes those who identify as underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences as described in NIH’s NOT-OD-20-031 (
  • Interns must be a documented U.S. citizen or non-citizen national or permanent resident in possession of an alien registration receipt card (I-551) or other legal document of such status. International citizens studying in the United States with an F-1 visa are not eligible for these spots. Individuals seeking asylum or refugees are not eligible.
  • Interns must have valid, current health insurance at the start of and for the duration of the program.
  • 2 letters of recommendation submitted on your behalf from college faculty (at least 1 should be from an instructor of a math or science course).
  • Official transcript showing academic coursework to date, including Fall 2022 semester final grades

Application Process

Applicants can apply through the REDCap application link:

All applications and supplementary materials are due by 11:59 PM CST on Wednesday January 17, 2024. The application review committee will meet in early-March and decisions will be released in March.

Contact Information

Inquiries may be directed to:

Rachel Baugh, MSA, OLY

Associate Director, Aspirnaut™

For more information, please visit our website: