Learn more at the Durham Mentorship Program interest meeting on
Thursday, September 21 at 3:05-4:00 PM in the ETC Lecture Hall
About the Durham Mentorship Program
NCSSM Durham-hosted student experiences are primarily within academic research with partners at Duke University, NC Central University, NC State University, and UNC-Chapel Hill and the Mentorship course curriculum is extensively research-focused. The range of topics and fields of interest widely vary within research (STEM, social sciences and humanities). Each year a limited number of mentors outside of academia are available such as with RTI International, a local architecture firm, or a local start-up company.
Details for Durham-hosted Mentorship Program will be announced with Morganton-hosted Mentorship Program and summer programs via a Zoom webinar to the Class of 2025 on Sunday, October 15 from 7:00 - 8:00 PM, including specific opportunities available for 2024-2025.
Current Students to Contact
Applying to Mentorship
NCSSM Durham-hosted Mentorship Program is open to all Residential and Online juniors to apply in October-November. Students applying for Durham-hosted Mentorship are not applying to a specific mentor, but rather to a specific program timeline as the mentor pairing occurs as a part of the required spring course.
Prior research experience is not a criteria for participation; many students enter the program with no research experience and most mentors do not require any prior technical background or coursework in their field of study. The variety of topics students may choose to pursue are not limited by discipline or specific type of research, however available fields are dependent on the program identifying an available volunteer mentor in the Triangle which varies from year to year.
Securing a Mentor
Durham-hosted Mentorship students will have the opportunity to choose their area of interest and will take part in the mentor search process. The process of securing a mentor is administered as part of the spring course by the Director of Mentorship and Research and is dependent on student's taking ownership of the mentor search procedures and deadlines. Mentors available in 2024-2025 will be announced as part of the spring course.
Students do NOT ask mentors directly at any point before or during the Mentorship Program.
Sarah Shoemaker, NCSSM Durham Director of Mentorship and Research
As Director of Mentorship and Research in Durham, Dr. Sarah Shoemaker supports research and innovation for NC School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) high school students by working with NCSSM faculty and cultivating relationships with mentors at local universities and business/industry partners in the Triangle. She has developed the Summer Research & Innovation Program, expanded the school-year Mentorship program, and developed curriculum to accomplish the learning goals of the programs. She serves as a strong support for the faculty and for our mentors from the community that work together to engage students as thinkers/makers/doers in an experience that requires the application of knowledge and skills to address challenges in the world beyond the classroom. Dr. Shoemaker is best defined by her passion for facilitating the success of others and promoting opportunities for the growth and development of young researchers and learners. Prior to coming to NCSSM, Dr. Shoemaker earned her Masters in Zoology and her PhD in Neuroscience at Case Western Research University and continued studying axon regeneration as a postdoctorate fellow at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Her training as a scientist and teacher is ideal for implementing programs to create an environment that promotes both students’ understanding and their effective communication of research both in and outside the classroom.
Josh Fuchs, NCSSM Durham Instructor of Mentorship and Research
Dr. Josh Fuchs is an Instructor of Mentorship and Research. Prior to NCSSM, he was an Assistant Professor of Physics at Texas Lutheran University. He earned his B.S. in Physics from Rhodes College and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Josh is passionate about creating active classrooms to engage all students. He has served on the board of the Texas Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers and as a Faculty Coordinator for the Partnership for the Integration of Computation into Undergraduate Physics. Outside work, Josh enjoys traveling and exploring new places, playing the piano, and pondering the intersection of science and religion.
Letitia Hubbard, NCSSM Durham Instructor of Engineering and Mentorship
Dr. Letitia Hubbard is a native of Huntsville, Alabama (home of NASA and the Space and Rocket Center!). As a member of the engineering and research mentorship faculty at NCSSM for four years, Dr. Hubbard has developed and taught a variety of courses, both residential and online, including Honors Biomedical Engineering Online, a Mini-Term course called a Survey of Biomedical Engineering, and the cross-disciplinary course Biomechanics of Injury. Through her affiliation with the Mentorship Program, she is also actively engaged in developing curriculum to prepare students for success in research. Letitia is an active participant with summer outreach programs to underrepresented minority groups, and currently serves as director of the NCSSM Step-up-to-STEM summer program. She also serves as Communications Coordinator for her department, faculty advisor for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Jr. Club, and is a member of the NCSSM Scholarship Committee. In 2020, Letitia was awarded a NC Board of Governor's award for Service to Students and was also named a National Winner in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition. Prior to coming to NCSSM, Letitia served as a research associate in the Biomedical Engineering department at Duke University. Dr. Hubbard loves singing, traveling (road trips!), graphic design, and hanging out with her family, especially her 3-year son.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can be my mentor?
Students in Mentorship are most often mentored by academic partners at Duke University, NC Central University, NC State University, and UNC-Chapel Hill. Each year a limited number of mentors outside of academia are available such as with RTI International, a local architecture firm, or a local start-up company. Students will have an active role in searching for a mentor.
If students have specific questions about possible mentors, they should reach out to NCSSM Durham's Director of Mentorship & Research at the beginning of the mentor search to discuss further.
Will I get to do my own research or will I be working on my mentor's project?
The type of research that students do is highly dependent on the type of research and the state of the mentors' existing projects. Some mentors will provide students with the opportunity to work on an independent project (i.e. typically a subsection or off-shoot of an existing project), others will have students collaborate within existing work in a more team-based manner. Regardless of the independence of the students' projects, mentors are required to ensure a clear timeline and research project for active student participation.
Students will be encouraged after being matched with mentors and during the onset of the program and beyond to discuss the bounds of their project; however, there is no guarantee that a student recieves an independent project. At the beginning of the mentor search, students may reach out to NCSSM Durham's Director of Mentorship & Research to discuss topics of interest and project independence.
Partner with Durham Mentorship and offer an opportunity for a student to engage in research!