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opals_vert.JPEGWith support from the Beckman Laser Institute Foundation, the Institute of Engineering in Medicine, and the BTC(Biophotonics Technology Center), the OPALS high school internship program is proud to provides pre-college students with hands-on experience in STEM. Each intern will have the opportunity to interact with researchers, graduate, and undergraduate students engaged in research at the interfaces of engineering and medical science. Interns will learn the scientific background to the research, observe or assist UC San Diego researchers and students in performing experiments, learn to analyze experimental data and present a research talk or poster at the end of the internship. Students have the opportunity to select from a diverse array of projects. Options include engaging in in-depth studies on neurodegenerative diseases like Huntington's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, and Glaucoma. Alternatively, students can delve into the intricate exploration of DNA repair mechanisms, contribute to the design of laser ablation and laser trapping systems, or explore other cutting-edge research initiatives. The Spring Session allows students the flexibility to choose a project aligned with their interests and academic goals.

Please reference the flyer for more details. Thank you!


For questions, contact:

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Dates and Deadlines

  • January 31st: Opening of Applications
  • April 30th: Application Deadline
  • May 1st: Commencement of Interviews
  • May 15th: Distribution of Acceptance Letters
  • May 31st: Final Day for Payment of Participation Fee & Complete Paper Work
  • July 8th: Opening Ceremony
  • July 9th to August 1st: In-Person Meetings/discussions/lab or company tours, Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 4 PM
  • August 2nd: Beach Day Celebration

* Applications for Summer 2024 OPALS will open on January 31st, 2024. Thank you for your interest.


  1. Complete OPALS Application Fee Payment
  2. Apply for the Summer 2024 OPALS Program 
  3. (Optional) Scholarship & Financial Aid 
  4. If you have any questions or concerns, contact
  • Applications for Scholarship & Financial Aid are open.


Qualified applicants:
  • Current 9 - 12th highschool students and community college students with curiosity and enthusiasm for STEM are welcome to apply.
  • Local residents preferred, no room and board provided for applicants from other county&states
  • Limited spots for the students under 16 years old (must follow the Minors in laboratories required by UCSD)
  • Applications from underrepresented, socio-economically disadvantaged, and disabled students are encouraged
  • Since slots are limited, we may not be able to accommodate all applicants. Applicants will be notified of acceptance decisions via email.

Commitments & Cost

  • Participation fee: $2,000
  • Application fee: $42 (Non-Refundable, required for ALL applicants, click here to go to the payment website)
  • The program is unable to provide housing or transportation. Students in financial need may apply for fee waiver and transportation support
  • The program is in-person partification for 4-weeks from 9 am to 4 pm, from Monday through Friday.
  • Students will be expected to dedicate 30 to 40 hours per week throughout the duration of the internship. Ideally, this involves in-person participation from 9 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Friday.
  • Voluntary donations to the IEM OPALS program to defray program costs (of approximately $1000 per intern) are gratefully accepted. However, please note that donations will have no influence on acceptance to the program.

Chief Scientists

Chief Scientists


Veronica Gomez

Institute of Engineering in Medicine, UCSD


Linda Shi

Institute of Engineering in Medicine, UCSD


Chengbiao Wu

Department of Neurosciences, UCSD


Program Faculty

Program Faculty


Shu Chien

Shu Chien-Gene Lay
Department of Bioengineering, UCSD


Arthur Forer

Department of Biology, York University


Farhat Beg

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UCSD


Wei Xiong

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCSD


Zhaowei Liu

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, UCSD


Kevin King

Department of Bioengineering & Department of Cardiology, UCSD


Daniel Ju

Department of Ophthalmology, Hamilton Glaucoma Center and Shiley Eye Institute, UCSD


Wallace Marshall

Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, UCSF


Xiaohua Wu

Department of Molecular Medicine, Scripps Research


Daryl Preese

Department of Biomedical Engineering, UCI


Lingyan Shi

Shu Chien-Gene Lay
Department of Bioengineering, UCSD


Management Team

Management Team


Andrew D. McCulloch

Director, Institute of Engineering in Medicine, UCSD


Philip Godfrey

Management Services Officer, Institute of Engineering in Medicine, UCSD


Justina Houston

Administrative Assistant, Institute of Engineering in Medicine, UCSD


Tom Liu

OPALS Program Coordinator, Institute of Engineering in Medicine, UCSD


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