Founded in 1989 by Columbia College and faculty of the science departments, the Rabi Scholars Program was established in memory of 1944 Nobel Laureate and Columbia physics faculty member I. I. Rabi. A small number of incoming first year Columbia College students who demonstrate exceptional promise in the sciences are chosen to be Rabi Scholars, and the program seeks to support and encourage these talented young scientists by providing research opportunities throughout their undergraduate careers.
Questions? Please contact Ariella Lang, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.
Membership in the Rabi Scholars Program is bestowed upon some of Columbia College’s most promising science students at the point of admission into the College, because of their demonstrated commitment to scientific research. To remain in the program, Rabi Scholars must:
- Major in mathematics or science; and
- Participate in research for at least two consecutive summers; and
- Earn a semester-to-semester GPA of at least 3.3 in science and mathematics courses as well as a cumulative GPA of 3.3 and above; and
- Remain in good standing in the College.
The Rabi Orientation takes place during the Columbia College New Student Orientation Program (NSOP), prior to the start of classes. It is an opportunity to meet other scholars and representatives from the Rabi Faculty Committee, as well as receive guidance on academic program planning.
Throughout the year, you can contact one of the Rabi Faculty Committee members from the relevant department: in your major department, in the department in which you currently or wish to conduct research, or in the department in which some particular course evokes a particular question or concern.
If you have questions regarding the program or any other aspect of being a College student, you can contact Ariella Lang, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.
Academic Year Research
Scholars may also receive a stipend for research conducted during the academic year. Approval is at the discretion of the Rabi Chair(s) and will be given only to those students whose academic performance indicates an ability to carry out the demands of both coursework and research. You will not be allowed to continue stipend-supported research if the Committee deems your academic performance unsatisfactory. First-year scholars are not normally permitted to conduct research with a Rabi stipend during the academic year, except under the rarest of circumstances.
You may, of course, work in a laboratory or on a research project on a volunteer basis without financial support, or, if the department in question offers the option, choose to do a research project for academic credit. Under no circumstances may you receive both academic credit and stipend in the same semester for one research project.
- To request approval to receive a stipend for academic year research, please complete the online form linked below. A separate form must be complete for each term that you wish to receive a stipend for.
- All forms must be submitted online no later than the drop deadline in any given semester (unless otherwise notified by URF). Please see the Columbia College Academic Calendar for the current drop deadline date.
- The proposal will be reviewed and approved by the Rabi Faculty Chair.
- Students will receive a notification from Undergraduate Research and Fellowships when their proposal has been approved and when to expect their stipend payment.
The distinguishing characteristic of the Rabi Program is the opportunity for outstanding students of science to engage in research with Columbia faculty and/or other researchers during the summer. As a Rabi Scholar you may receive a research stipend and cost-free housing for up to three summers. You are not required to undertake research every summer, but Rabi Scholars are expected to undertake research for two summers while they are students at Columbia College.
Planning Summer Research
Students interested in conducting summer research should begin planning their summer by the start of the spring semester. You must confirm your intention to undertake summer research by the first day of classes, and whether or not you anticipate requiring campus housing, before Spring break each year. The deadline for summer research proposal submission is the Thursday before Spring break each year. The proposal should outline, in language accessible to a non-specialist, the scientific issue to be addressed, why the issue is of interest or importance, and the methodology or research strategy to be employed. It should also include a title for the project, and the complete name and affiliation of your research mentor.
Summer research programs must have scientific inquiry at their core. Programs in which you act primarily as an educator/teacher, or programs in which the primary activity is clinical in nature, with no research component, will not be eligible for summer funding.
While Rabi Scholars will normally work primarily with Columbia science faculty and other researchers, you will be allowed to conduct research either on campus or off campus, and with scientists not necessarily affiliated with Columbia, as long as the research is approved by the Rabi Faculty Committee. If you are conducting such approved research at institutions other than Columbia you may receive the summer stipend and have your housing and travel costs reimbursed (upon submission of receipts to the Undergraduate Research and Fellowships office in 202 Hamilton) up to the cost of on-campus housing for that year.*
Rabi Scholars who live at home while conducting summer research are not eligible for the housing stipend; however, you may receive the summer stipend and reimbursement for travel expenses to and from the site of research.
Rabi Scholars with approved summer research proposals will receive a research stipend and are eligible for on-campus housing or, if participating in research at an institution other than Columbia, reimbursement of housing and travel costs per the above paragraph. Please note that for on-campus housing scholars are sponsored for Summer Session 1, Summer Interim, and Summer Session 2. Other housing periods, such as the Spring and Fall Interim periods are not covered by the program and scholars are responsible for those costs should they decide to stay on campus during those times.
* Summer 2021 Update: Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, housing funding may be available to scholars only if their current location of sequester (the place where they will remain this summer), is a place where they are incurring charges (i.e. not a family home or friend's home.) Scholars will be required to submit a signed PDF stating that they are personally responsible for rent off-campus. The short note should include how long the scholar will be responsible for rent over the summer. Questions regarding off-campus housing should be sent to Jessica Cubas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Rabi Scholars in good academic standing are eligible to apply for summer funding. Rabi Scholars applying for their third summer of funding are expected to present their work at a relevant academic conference (identified in partnership with their faculty mentor), and the specific of the conference are to be identified in the funding application.
The summer program is based on a full-time commitment to engage in research, defined as 10 weeks at 35 hours per week. It is therefore expected that you will not take classes during the summer in which you are engaging in research. Taking summer classes requires the permission of the Rabi Faculty Chair(s) and approval from your faculty research supervisor, to ensure that the coursework will not interfere with your full-time research project.
You may not work part time elsewhere while engaged in research over the summer. If you are unable or unwilling to commit to a full summer period of full-time research, then you may opt to work either the first or second half of the summer, and you will be paid half the summer stipend. You may stay in the dorms supported by the program only for the half of the summer in which you are engaged in research. Under no circumstances will the Rabi program pay either the stipend or housing costs of students who are on campus but are not engaged in approved full-time research.
Rabi Scholars are eligible to receive up to $600 each academic year towards the cost of attending academic conferences in order to present research findings. We strongly encourage participation in professional meetings when tangible research results have been obtained.
Undergraduate Research SYMPOSIUM
All Rabi Scholars who conducted summer research are required to present their work in poster format at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, which takes place early in the fall semester. All Rabi Scholars are required to attend the symposium, even if they are not presenting research. In preparation for this event, Rabi Scholars submit to Undergraduate Research and Fellowships an abstract summarizing the results of the research conducted during the summer or the preceding academic year. Like the original proposal, the abstract should be placed in the context of some broader scientific issue, but focused on the specifics of the project and conclusions of the research, even if those are provisional or tentative. Scholars are expected to have incorporated editorial advice from their mentors before submission.
A Program Committee made up of, and selected annually by, Rabi Scholars is responsible for planning lectures, dinners, social events and other activities for the following summer and academic year. The Rabi Scholars program provides a budget and must approve the Program Committee’s proposed plan for non-research activities. The Rabi Scholars Office will provide assistance as required.