About the Advocate Program

© Jessica Yurinko

Program Information

The Society Advocate Program provides a stipend to an individual (teacher, counselor, mentor), who agrees to serve as an mentor for 3-5 students from traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM (Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, from low income households, and/or other groups traditionally underrepresented) to transition them from conducting a scientific or engineering research project to entering their projects into STEM research competition(s). The individual agrees to support the students by prompting them and communicating to them about possible research competitions and relevant deadlines, and to support the gathering and writing of the required elements of an application. (It is not intended that this individual be conversant in the research subject, but rather navigates the process of application with the student.) The Society runs several science research competitions, including the Regeneron Science Talent Search, Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, and Thermo Fisher JIC, but participants may also choose outside science research competitions.

Program Rationale

Independent science or engineering research is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn the true nature of science and experience the thrill of discovery. By entering their work into STEM research competitions, students gain additional skills such as learning how to write a scientific journal article and how to present their work to peers, scientists, and the public. Just completing the rigorous application process can inspire confidence in their scientific abilities and lead them to consider a STEM career. Many of these competitions provide monetary awards for post-secondary education and can boost a student’s chance of acceptance into the college or university of their choice. In many cases, students have the opportunity to meet others that share their enthusiasm for science, and those connections carry over into their college and scientific careers. Too few students from underrepresented groups are presented with these opportunities and the know-how to successfully enter.

Eligibility of Advocate

Advocates must be 21 years or older and be employed by a school, university, organization or corporation that has established a relationship with students in a manner appropriately sanctioned and approved by legal guardians. Open to individuals living and working in the U.S. and U.S. Territories.

Eligibility of Student

Students must be from a population traditionally underrepresented in STEM (Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, from low income households, and/or other groups traditionally underrepresented), enrolled in a K-12 school, and will be in grades 6 – 12 during the year the Advocate participates. They must have conducted a research project within the last six months or be actively engaged in a project with the intent and interest to apply for a competition in the coming school year. The competition(s) entered should be relevant to the research conducted.


The stipend will be provided to the advocate in three installments of $1,000 each (exact timing will vary for each program/school):

  • One during recruitment of participants and preparation for competition throughout the research experience (Fall)
  • One after the research experience is concluded and advocates are guiding students through the application process and training them on how to write up their research (Winter)
  • One after a minimum of three students have entered competitions (Spring)

Advocate Types

Since Advocates support students in diverse settings and have varying levels of experiences, all applicants are asked to choose one Advocate type for which they would like to apply. There are no quotas for Advocate types – all applications of any type are considered equally. Please read the descriptions below and then choose the Advocate type that best fits your experience level and goals combined. This does not limit you to only working in these areas, but informs the Society of your ambitions for your students, especially in cases of applicants who have some experience with science research competitions.

Introductory Advocates

Introductory Advocates are already in contact with students who complete STEM research projects, but have little to no experience in helping them to enter STEM research competitions. Recruiting students to take this extra step and working with them to cross the finish line of competition participation may not be an easy task. These Advocates are ready to learn the in’s and out’s of STEM research competitions, help students gather the pieces and parts necessary for the competitions, make sure they adhere to deadlines, and find a way to provide anything the students may need to make participation possible. These Advocates will support at least 3 additional students from underrepresented groups in entering STEM research competitions.

Amplification Advocates

Amplification Advocates have some experience guiding students in entering STEM research competitions, but want to do more. They are likely familiar with one type of STEM research competition, but are ready to add more competitions to their repertoire. They want their students to benefit from multiple opportunities and different types of competition, and forge new pathways for students at their school. They will be supporting at least 3 additional students from underrepresented groups in entering a new and/or multiple competition(s).

Culture-Shift Advocates

Culture-shift Advocates are on a mission to transform their community into a bustling STEM-focused center. They are experienced in leading students in STEM research competitions, though not necessarily experts or veterans. They may want to mentor other STEM teachers at their school or within their district, add new grade levels to their efforts, gain administrative and district support, shine a light on the importance of student research through their local media, and/or secure funding for research programs for years to come. They are ready to become known as a student research leader in their area and want counselors and parents to point students towards their programs without hesitation. These Advocates will have many of these unique, far-reaching goals for the year in addition to supporting at least 3 additional students from underrepresented groups in entering STEM research competitions.

Expansion Advocates

Expansion Advocates are going to need a wider pipeline for their flow of students this year. They have an established research program or long-term experience supporting students in entering STEM research competitions, but they aren’t satisfied with the level of diversity and number of students who make it through to the end. They are ready to learn what it really takes to recruit and retain a larger volume of students who reflect the diversity of their community. These Advocates will support at least 5 additional or 30% more students from underrepresented groups in entering STEM research competitions, whichever is larger. This means a research program that previously supported 9 students from underrepresented groups will add 5 students, one with 25 students previously will add 8 students, and one with 50 students previously will add 15 students this year.