More Research & Innovation Opportunities

Short, Accessible, and Flexible

During the school year, students can register for many shorter opportunities to gain research/innovation experience. Durham students may enroll in Research Experience (REX) Courses, initiate an Independent Special Study Option (SSO), or participate in a research/innovation-oriented January Term. In addition, many non-REX courses at NCSSM contain a research component, such as a research project or paper.

Research and Innovation Courses

REX Courses

Research Experience (REX) courses help students develop research skills and provide the opportunity to complete a research project in a specific discipline. There are no prerequisites and these courses span one semester. REX courses are available to both juniors and seniors. Some students, upon completion of the course, may elect to be considered for other research opportunities at NCSSM, though it is not required.

Durham REX courses for 2021-2022 are offered in semester courses include:

  • EN4600 Humanities (Spring)

Additionally, Research Experience in Computational Science and Research in Chemistry are offered to online students only, but may be available for residential students if space allows.

CURE Courses

Curriculum-Based Unicorn Research Experiences integrate research experiences into the curriculum of the course. Science courses with a research component are indicated by (*R*) in the course catalog. The offering of research within these courses will be dependent on whether the activities are possible during the pandemic.

For 2021-2022, these include:

  • BI3640 Developmental Biology (Fall)

  • BI4020 Ecology (Fall)

  • BI4030 Environmental Science (Spring)

  • BI4110 Molecular Genetics (Fall and Spring)

  • BI4130 Aquatic Ecology (Spring)

  • BI4060 Neuroscience (Spring)

  • BI4200 Immunology (Spring)

  • BI4210, BI4211 AP Biology (I-II) (Fall and Spring)

  • CH4140 Environmental Chem (Spring)

  • CH4280 Materials Chemistry (Fall)

  • CH4290 Biochemistry (Spring)

  • MA4500 Graph Theory with REX Math (Fall and Spring)

  • PH4180 Astrophysics (Fall and Spring)

Entrepreneurship Opportunities

Entrepreneurship (HU4000) brings the themes and principles of entrepreneurship to life by building a business around an innovative product. As a culminating event, students will showcase their innovations during an entrepreneurial fair on campus.

Independent SSOs

Special Study Options (SSOs) are a 0.5-credit, non-GPA bearing opportunity for a student to pursue a specific interest in a topic/activity of choice. This includes the option to propose an independent research/innovation activity which must be supported by an NCSSM faculty sponsor to serve as your supervisor. The commitment requires 4-6 hours of work per week. The student and faculty sponsor must agree upon specific meeting times/locations, as well as the standards upon which the student's work will be assessed as satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Students should also keep in mind that this is a significant time commitment; a student in an independent SSO usually devotes 7 hours per week. Note that student's performance in their SSO cannot contribute to their GPA.

Click here for the 2021-2022 Special Study Option timelines and instructions.

January Term (J Term)

January Term (J Term) provides students the opportunity to either participate specialized courses arranged by NCSSM faculty or conduct their own approved educational project under the sponsorship of an adult member of the NCSSM community. Faculty-arranged J-Term courses that focus on research/innovation vary from year to year. Additionally, students may propose their own research/innovation project, whether they plan to work independently, work with peers, or collaborate with researchers/entrepreneurs at local institutions or organizations.

To learn about these opportunities, be sure to attend the J-Term interest meetings!

Research in Math

Dr. Tamar Avineri

Winter RHum

Dr. David Cantrell


Dr. Jianbei Deng


Dr. Kyle Slinker


Dr. Michele Alexandre & Dr. Michael Cargill

Engineering Opportunities


The Zebracorns are a FIRST® Robotics Competition Team that was started as a partnership between mentors and students at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics with the goal of introducing students to engineering principles through practical application. They self-publish several white papers each year ( ) and present at state and national events. For more information about robotics at NCSSM, visit the Zebracorns website,


The NCSSM Rocketry team has two main branches, The American Rocketry Challenge (TARC) and HIgh-Powered Rocketry (HPR) Team. In 2020-2021, NCSSM is sponsoring five teams in the American Rocketry Challenge, the world’s largest rocket contest with nearly 5,000 students nationwide competing each year. The contest gives middle and high school students the opportunity to design, build and launch model rockets and hands-on experience solving engineering problems. The High-Powered Rocketry team is working on an independent research project designed and constructed by the students themselves.

Outreach is incredibly important to NCSSM Rocketry, as they work with Astronomy Days at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and attend the associated launch event. They have also supported a faculty member and students in NCSSM's Distance Education program by encouraging the formation of TARC teams that would receive technical and other assistance from our program. To learn more about rocketry at NCSSM, visit the website at

Contact: Garrett Love |