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Chancellor’s Science Scholars

You want to work on cutting-edge research with a community of future scientists and engineers.

If this sounds like you, then you should consider the following Excel@Carolina opportunity.

The Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program seeks highly-motivated students who are passionate about science and technology and who want to join an inclusive, collaborative STEM community.

Through a focus on academic excellence, undergraduate research, inclusion, and a supportive community of like-minded peers, CSS prepares students from all backgrounds for graduate study and careers in scientific leadership.

If you express interest in the CSS program through the Excel@Carolina survey on the application for admission, we encourage you to consider highlighting your STEM and/or research interests through your essay or short answer responses. Understanding what scientific questions captivate you, or what problems you want to use technology to solve, helps us to match students to the Chancellor’s Science Scholars program.

The program includes:

  • Financial Support – The CSS program includes a $10,000 scholarship for North Carolina residents, and tuition, fees, room and board for out-of-state students, renewable for four years of undergraduate study. Students may also apply for additional funding to support summer research opportunities, travel to industry conferences, and other academic enrichment endeavors, as funds are available.
    A Head Start on Excellence – Our required intensive six-week Summer EXCELerator program prior to students’ first year on campus gives them a foundation of strong coursework, teaches them the best practices of our most successful students, and helps them form a tight cohort of supportive peers.
  • Cohort – Each year, a vibrant and diverse group of 30-40 outstanding scholars who are committed to scientific research and to each other, live together during their first year to form a community and then continue to meet regularly throughout their time at Carolina, helping to forge friendships and networks that can last a lifetime.
  • Academic Advantage – Outstanding academic performance in math and the sciences is our goal. Students receive regular, intensive advising from CSS program coordinators, faculty mentors in STEM departments, free access to STEM tutors, and dedicated advisors within the University’s Academic Advising Program. CSS scholars also receive priority registration for STEM courses.
  • Research – Research experience is one of the most important ways to prepare for Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. programs. We help students identify and obtain placements in research labs at Carolina early in their time here, as well as summer research opportunities at other leading universities like Johns Hopkins, UC-Berkeley, Harvard, and MIT.
  • Professional Development – In your last two years, CSS prepares you for the next step by assisting you with the graduate school application process, including GRE/MCAT test preparation and workshops on individual application components such as cover letters, personal statements, and interviews.
  • Recognition – Students who graduate in good program standing receive the designation of “Chancellor’s Science Scholars Laureate” on their official UNC transcript.

Learn more about the Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program.

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Photo by Megan May/UNC Research

Jared Richards, UNC ‘20

Hometown: Columbia, MD

Major: Quantitative Biology with a minor in Marine Science

Before Carolina: As a 3-year-old, Jared showed an early interest in science, spending his time looking for bugs in his parents’ backyard. A summer trip visiting family in Trinidad confirmed his interest when he joined a research project examining nesting leatherback turtles.

Standout experiences as a scholar
: Studying deep-sea creatures for a summer internship at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History was a childhood dream come true. Not only did he get to handle cuttlefish, his favorite animal, but he also had the opportunity to inspect a potentially undiscovered species.

Jared also says that spending a summer on campus with his fellow scholars before their first semester made a difference.

“Before that, I was kind of nervous about going to college and being independent,” he said. “I was worried about being confused for the first semester, but it definitely eased my way in.”

After Carolina: Jared plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Organismal Biology, Comparative Biology, Biomechanics, or Evolutionary Biology and Ecology.

Samantha Pagan, UNC ‘19

Hometown: Asheville, NC

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Physics with a minor in Mathematics

Before Carolina: Samantha’s science teachers in high school piqued her interest in everything from data to robotics to environmental science.

Standout experiences as a scholar: Early on in the program, Samantha said that being able to attend lectures and lab tours on a wide range of science topics allowed her to explore different interests. A favorite moment was touring a fluid dynamics lab with wave tanks and air tanks to see how different factors impact movement and then connecting it back to a specific application in her mathematics class.

“My professor researched the effect of the BP oil spill,” Samantha says. “It was interesting to see the math behind the research to see how fluid disperses and the implications on the environment.”

She also says that the program gave her a network of students from whom to learn both science and life lessons.

“They challenged me to see the world through many different lenses,” she said.

After Carolina: Samantha is headed to Yale this fall to begin her PhD studies in physics.

Students walk through the Polk Place quad on UNC campus
A shot of the fall foliage from a Carolina residence hall