Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences Summer Scholars Program (SSP)

The Summer Scholars Program (SSP) is a collaboration between the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, and Canada’s Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats.

About the Program

The BBS Summer Scholars Program is a fully funded 12-week program that provides successful applicants with cutting-edge skills training, mentorship, and career development opportunities in STEM.

Over the past 10 years, the number of students pursuing postsecondary education and receiving a STEM credential from a Canadian public postsecondary institution has steadily increased. Yet, there remain significant racial, ethnic, and gender gaps in students enrolled in STEM degree programs and who occupy STEM-related jobs in the workforce. The Biochemistry and Biomedical Science Department, Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, and Canada’s Global Nexus are committed to inclusive excellence and creating opportunities for students underrepresented in STEM. Our mission is to engage, encourage, and assist students from equity-deserving groups to pursue biomedical research and careers in biomedical sciences. 

We aim to support students that face barriers to engaging in academic research, as well as those who have not had opportunities to explore STEM-related career paths in their educational journey. This program supports them in their current academic program and future careers. No previous research experience or research project proposals are required. Highly motivated, passionate, and enthusiastic STEM students are strongly encouraged to apply.

Program Features

  • A two-week intensive skills training “boot camp” in the Biochemistry and Biomedical Science teaching labs 
  • A 10-week immersive research placement in the lab of a participating BBS, IIDR, and/or Canada’s Global Nexus Faculty
  • Seminar series exploring biomedical science careers
  • Capstone research symposium showcasing the work of summer scholars


The program is open to students who live in Ontario (residents) and who are enrolled in a STEM postsecondary degree/diploma program and who self-identify as any of the following:

  • Black
  • Indigenous

*Applicants must have completed at least one semester of their degree program by May of 2023. Students who will have completed their degree requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree by May of 2023 are not eligible to apply.

Funding & Support

Students will be paid a stipend of $7,000 for the 12-week period (35 hours of work per week is expected) and provided with a meal card for dining on and off campus (valued at $900).

Other support available to successful applicants include (where applicable):

    • Housing in residence on campus at McMaster if living on campus is required (Mary E. Keyes Residence Suites, valued at ~$3,200 for a 12-week period).
    • Transportation to and from Hamilton ($300 maximum per student)
    • Parking on campus ($300 maximum per student)
    • Childcare* ($500 maximum per student; *note it is the applicant’s responsibility to make childcare arrangements, the bursary is intended to offset childcare costs)

Research & Supervision

Successful applicants will have the opportunity to engage in research in areas including (but not limited to):

  • Microbiology
  • Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Immunology 
  • Drug Discovery
  • Metabolism
  • Cell Biology
  • Genomics
  • Stem Cells
  • Cancer Biology

Successful applicants will be matched by the Steering Committee team based on faculty availability and mutual research interests.

How to Apply

  • Applications will open on November 25, 2022 and close on January 25, 2023.
  • The application consists of two parts:
  1. An online application form which may be accessed here; and,
  2. A letter of support: Applicants to the program are required to provide one letter of support to endorse their applications. Referees can be academic, personal, work or community-based. Referees are encouraged to speak to the applicant’s passion, character, and opportunities that will be gained from program completion. Letters of support must be signed and emailed to Oral letters of support will also be accepted and applicants should contact Dr. Caitlin Mullarkey, Chair of the Steering Committee, at to arrange a phone call.

Both sections of the application must be submitted by 11:59 PM on January 25, 2023. Only fully completed applications (online form and one letter of support) will be assessed by the Selection Committee. Finalists may be invited for an interview.

Timelines & Key Dates:

  • Completed application and letter of support must be received by January 25, 2023 at 11:59 PM
  • Finalists may be invited to participate in an interview with the Committee
  • Successful applicants will be notified in early-March, 2023
  • The program will run from May-August, 2023

The SSP Steering Committee

The program and application process have been developed as a collaborative effort of the Inaugural Steering Committee. Steering Committee members will evaluate applications. Learn more about our members below:

Maya George
M.Sc. Candidate
The Wright Lab, IIDR

Maya’s interests include antimicrobial research, health advocacy, science communication, and knowledge translation. Recently, Maya held an executive position with the Black Aspiring Physicians of McMaster, which seeks to increase the number of Black students in Canadian Medical schools by providing Black pre-med undergraduate students at McMaster with guidance and mentorship.

Dr. Caitlin Mullarkey (Program Chair)
Assistant Professor
Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences

As the Associate Chair of Undergraduate Education in McMaster’s Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Mullarkey is focused on providing undergraduates with a rigorous and cutting-edge scientific education. She received her doctorate from the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and, in 2020, she was the recipient of a McMaster Student Union Teaching Award.

Dr. John-Paul Oliveria
Biomarker Scientist

Dr. Oliveria earned an H.B.Sc. in Biology and a Ph.D. in Medical Sciences from McMaster University, where he has since served as an Adjunct Faculty Member. He is also a Senior Biomarker Scientist at Genentech Inc. and a board member of ‘Future of Research.’ Dr. Oliveria is passionate about mentoring those interested in a career in STEM — especially those who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+.

Dr. Cherrie Small
Director of Study Management

Dr. Small received her B.Sc. Honours and M.Sc. from Brock University and her Ph.D in Medical Sciences specializing in Infection and Immunity from McMaster University. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Small has been a passionate advocate, mentor, and role model for students in Women in Science and Engineering and has volunteered for the national non-profit program Let’s Talk Science.

Dr. Deborah Sloboda
Professor & Associate Chair of Research
Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Sloboda holds a Tier-2 Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Programming. Her lab investigates early-life impacts on maternal, fetal, and placental development and how this mediates the risk of non-communicable disease later in life. Her experimental studies investigate maternal nutrient manipulation on maternal pregnancy adaptations, including the microbiome, placental inflammation, and more.

Dr. Adrianne Xavier
Acting Director
Indigenous Studies Program

Dr. Xavier completed her undergraduate degree in Anthropology at McMaster and earned both her MA and doctorate from the Royal Roads University, where she focused on Indigenous food systems. Today, she teaches in the areas of Contemporary Indigenous Issues, Indigenous Food Security and Food Systems, Indigenous Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Ways of Knowing, and Methodologies.

SSP’s Institutional Partners