Alumni of the Broad’s summer research programs discuss the personal and professional impact of their time at Broad

Their early experiences in the lab taught them research skills and helped them see themselves as scientists.

Collage of portraits of six alumni of the Broad's summer research programs
(Clockwise from top left) Aleisha Roberts, Eli Levitt, Raven Davidson, Jasmine Brown, Talmo Pereira, and Diego Rodriguez participated in the Broad's summer research programs as high school or college students.

The alumni of the Broad Institute’s summer research programs for college and high school students have gone on to a wide range of positions, from lab heads in academia to industry research jobs and studies at top-notch universities and medical schools.

While their paths have diverged, they say the Broad Summer Research Program (BSRP; for college students from across the US) and the Broad Summer Scholars Program (BSSP; for Boston-area high school students) helped give them the skills, support, and the passion they needed to propel themselves into careers in STEM. For many, the programs have been pivotal in their career development, exposing the students to new opportunities for the first time, enabling them to picture themselves as scientists, and teaching them skills they continue to use today.

To mark the 20-year anniversary of BSRP and the 10-year anniversary of BSSP, we spoke with more than a dozen alumni about the impact these programs have had on their careers and lives. Here is what they told us.


Portrait of Manuel Rivas
Manuel Rivas
Manuel Rivas

Manuel Rivas (BSRP 2004)
Director of statistical genetics, Maze Therapeutics
Assistant professor of biomedical data science, Stanford University (on leave)

“At the Broad, I was introduced to programming and data analysis, and I enjoyed working on a research topic that no one had tackled before. I learned how to run a research project and I was able to lead the entire process throughout.

I enjoyed seeing how researchers interact with each other, and with students and postdocs. Those lessons carried over when it was time to run my own lab.”

Portrait of Nicole Martinez
Nicole Martinez
Nicole Martinez

Nicole Martinez (BSRP 2007)
Assistant professor, Stanford University

“It was the first time that I really identified as a scientist, and I was really excited about having my own project and carrying out research at this top research institution that was very collaborative and interdisciplinary.”

Portrait of Chris Robles
Chris Robles
Chris Robles

Chris Robles (BSRP 2010)
Scientist and statistical geneticist, Prometheus Biosciences

“Before coming to Broad, I was only exposed to wet lab experiments. After spending a summer in the BSRP program, I got exposure to both wet lab and bioinformatics research. I saw what the bioinformatician career path and lifestyle could look like, which is something I had never thought of before coming to the Broad. I realized that this is the career path that I really wanted. 

I pivoted my focus to pursue computational research to the point where now I'm fully employed as a bioinformatician.”

Portrait of Talmo Pereira
Talmo Pereira
Talmo Pereira

Talmo Pereira (BSRP 2012)
Computational neuroscientist, Salk Institute for Biological Studies

“My experience at the Broad was really instrumental. It basically launched my entire scientific career.

The fact that the program was able to instill this sense of belonging in us was one of the key factors that allowed me to progress through my first research experiences and subsequent career stages.” 

Watch our interview with Pereira here.

Portrait of Kayla Lee
Kayla Lee
Kayla Lee

Kayla Lee (BSRP 2012)
Product manager, strategic alliances, IBM Quantum

“Having interactions with computer scientists, mathematicians, and physicists at the Broad really primed me for what it looks like to be in an interdisciplinary science space.”

Watch our interview with Lee here.

Portrait of Jasmine Brown
Jasmine Brown
Jasmine Brown

Jasmine Brown (BSRP 2017)
2018 Rhodes Scholar. Now a third-year medical student, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

“At the Broad, I had the opportunity to meet many leaders in research and medicine who inspired me to dream big and to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship. My graduate research at the University of Oxford, which was funded by the Rhodes Scholarship, led to a book I wrote and recently published about the stories of Black women who fought to become physicians from the Civil War to the 21st century. I may not have pursued these opportunities were it not for role models like the ones I found at the Broad.”

Portrait of Diego Rodriguez
Diego Rodriguez
Diego Rodriguez

Diego Rodriguez (BSRP 2019)
MD/PhD student, Weill Cornell Medicine

"The BSRP program helped build my confidence in a way where I felt like I could apply to these big schools for MD/PhD programs and get into most of them.

During my time at Broad's Cancer Program I was able to talk to people at various career stages –– graduate students, postdocs, physician-scientists, and distinguished professors. That was a big thing. I was able to see where each of my steps in my career would look like, even if it wasn't there at the Broad.”

Portrait of Chanell Mangum
Chanell Mangum
Chanell Mangum

Chanell Mangum (BSRP 2021)
Research associate, Broad Institute

“I was on the fence about whether I would do a master’s degree and work in industry, or get a PhD. My experience at the Broad really solidified for me that I wanted to do research.

I love being able to really dig into a problem and ask a lot of questions — the curiosity part really sold it for me. The biggest thing I learned at Broad was how to troubleshoot and be an independent thinker.”

Portrait of Kamryn Graham
Kamryn Graham
Kamryn Graham

Kamryn Graham (BSRP 2022)
Senior, Davidson College; beginning a PhD program at Rockefeller University this fall

“I left the program realizing that my aspirations to be a career scientist are very possible, and that I have not just the skills, but the ability within myself to achieve that.”

Watch our interview with Graham here.

Portrait of Helen Karimi
Helen Karimi
Helen Karimi

Helen Karimi (BSSP 2014)
First-year student, Tufts University School of Medicine

“The BSSP program has changed my life in quite a few ways. I'm a medical student and I really believe that participating in this program helped to initiate that interest in medicine.

Prior to doing the program, I was always really afraid to let others know when I was struggling. With the experience I gained through BSSP, I know what the best way is to ask a question.”

Watch our interview with Karimi here.

Portrait of Raven Davidson
Raven Davidson
Raven Davidson

Raven Davidson (BSSP 2016)
Research technologist, Medical College of Wisconsin

“Working under a woman scientist in the lab solidified my vision as a future scientist and doing the poster presentations gave me the confidence to embrace that role and share my science.”

Portrait of Annie Miall
Annie Miall
Annie Miall

Annie Miall (BSSP 2017)
Senior, Harvard University, majoring in biology and history of science; will conduct sociobehavioral research in South Africa through the Ragon Institute after graduation 

“I'd say that BSSP has tremendously shaped the trajectory of my life. I think it wouldn't be wrong to say that it completely changed my life. This program is so special because it really builds a strong foundation for you to pursue whatever you want next. But more than that, it’s also a family of people you can always rely on in your network for support.

At the beginning of the summer, I couldn't wrap my head around why I was here, because I had very little research experience. But throughout that summer, my mentor and other people within the program all really encouraged me and showed that everyone does contribute something. I fell even more in love with science.”

Watch our interview with Miall here.


Portrait of Michelle Mantilla
Michelle Mantilla
Michelle Mantilla

Michelle Mantilla (BSSP 2017, BSRP 2019)
Senior, MIT, majoring in chemical and biological engineering; will work in a cell and gene therapy and immunology lab at Stanford Medicine after graduation

“As a first-generation college student and a low-income student, I had never met someone with a PhD before. And in the classroom, you always have this mythical aspect of what a scientist is, and I didn't know any of the concrete things that make a scientist or a researcher. This was an incredibly formative experience that showed me that scientists and researchers can look like me.”

Portrait of Jose Melo
José Melo
José Melo

José Melo (BSSP 2018)
Senior, Bowdoin College, majoring in biology

"BSSP helped solidify for me that science is really what I want to do, and this is the environment that I really want to work in. It helped me build a view of what my future would look like."

Portrait of Lev Sandler
Lev Sandler
Lev Sandler

Lev Sandler (BSSP 2018)
Senior, Harvard University, majoring in neuroscience; entering the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the fall

“BSSP really provides all these high schoolers, maybe who have never had a scientific experience like this, with such incredible mentors who can totally transform their experience with science. Having a great mentor really makes you passionate about what you're learning and passionate about science as a whole.”

Watch our interview with Sandler here.

Portrait of Eli Levitt
Eli Levitt
Eli Levitt

Eli Levitt (BSSP 2019)
Junior, Vassar College, majoring in biology 

“I really think Broad is the reason I'm doing biology research now. I was pretty confident in high school that I was going to major in math or computer science and be an engineer. I like math a lot, but it doesn't excite me the way biology does.

At Broad, it was really cool to be in a setting where everybody was learning things and asking questions. It taught me to start thinking like a scientist.”

Portrait of Aleisha Roberts
Aleisha Roberts
Aleisha Roberts

Aleisha Roberts (BSSP 2021)
Freshman, Harvard University, pre-med

“It made the world of research a lot more accessible to me. I was really interested in pre-med exclusively for my entire life up until that point, because I just never saw research as something that I would get into. But they made it an option for me.

Just knowing that my mentors believed in me and wanted to see me grow as a scientist made all the difference and was really encouraging.”




Learn more about BSRP and BSSP, including application information, here.