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What is STARTneuro?

STARTneuro trains and mentors diverse transfer students as they enter neuroscience research. Our program begins with a 10-week summer research training program to ramp students up on key neuroscience techniques and facilitates lab placements with faculty mentors during the school year. STARTneuro also provides ongoing mentorship and workshops to prepare students to apply for PhD programs.

Our program funds students to work full-time in labs over the summer, as well as part-time during the school year. We are funded by a National Institutes of Health BP-ENDURE grant (Award Number R25NS119707) to host a cohort of 10-15 students each summer through 2026.

STARTneuro is a collaboration between the Division of Biological Sciences and the Undergraduate Research Hub. We are also supported by many campus resources such as the Teaching+Learning Commons and OASIS, as well as many off-campus research labs at the Salk Institute and Scripps Research Institute.

If you have questions about this program, please contact the Program Directors:
Brenda Bloodgood (
Ashley Juavinett (

Startneuro offers students

fully-funded summer research training program

A ten-week fully-funded summer research training program to teach you a wide range of fundamental techniques in neuroscience and introduce you to UC San Diego

Research Experience

Access to research experience in a lab during undergraduate study at UC San Diego

Community and mentorship

Community and mentorship with neuroscience PhD students and faculty at UC San Diego

Preparation and guidance

Preparation and guidance for applying to PhD programs

STARTneuro Eligibility & Application


STARTneuro is open to incoming UC San Diego transfer students who are interested in pursuing neuroscience research as a career path. There is no GPA requirement and you do not need prior research experience or neuroscience coursework to be eligible.  Preference will be given to students who are matriculating into UC San Diego this Fall.

STARTneuro is funded by the National Institutes of Health and shares its mission of diversifying the neuroscience workforce. We especially encourage applications from students who have been historically excluded from STEM research because of their ethnicity, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or socioeconomic status.

Application Process

Our application can be found on AcademicWorks. You will need your UCSD SSO to log in. First, you’ll be prompted to fill out the General Application. Afterwards, you’ll see the STARTneuro application.

Applicants will be asked to provide a letter of recommendation and respond to each of the questions below in 250 words or less.

  1. Of all of your experiences related to science in the past, which one(s) did you find the most satisfying and why?
  2. When you think about doing neuroscience research, what do you imagine would be rewarding
  3. Describe a time when you had to create something from scratch — what was surprisingly difficult? How did you address any unforeseen obstacles
  4. We are committed to serving a diversity of students. Is there anything you haven’t shared above that would make you a valuable member of the STARTneuro community? (Optional)

Applications need to be submitted by June 1st.

Application Deadline Extended Application will now be accepted until June 8th



STARTneuro Core Team

Brenda Bloodgood (co-director) is an associate professor of neurobiology at UC San Diego. Bloodgood studies the molecular and cellular basis of brain circuitry changes in response to an animal's interactions with the environment.
Ashley Juavinett (co-director) is an assistant teaching professor of neurobiology at UC San Diego. Her research and writing on education and careers in neuroscience aim to broaden the field and encourage underrepresented students.
David Artis is Dean of Undergraduate Research Advancement at UC San Diego.
Stanley Lo is an associate teaching professor in cell and developmental biology at UC San Diego. His research examines the intersection of student identity, experience, and learning in undergraduate biology education.
Eduardo Macagno is a distinguished professor in cell and developmental biology at UC San Diego. 
Terry Gaasterland is a professor of computational biology and genomics and Director of the Bioinformatics & Systems Biology (BISB) graduate program at UC San Diego.  Her research investigates how genome variation in humans or model organisms alters risk for disease, response to treatments, and propensity to repair and renew cells.


Neuroscience in San Diego

Neuroscience research seeks to understand how our nervous systems do the seemingly effortless work of taking in the world around us and enabling us to move, think, and make decisions.

Simply speaking, neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. Since its early days,  neuroscience has been tasked with understanding how neurons and glia develop, function, and communicate. These days, neuroscientists use a variety of tools to understand the endless nuts and bolts of how nervous systems are built so that we can ultimately apply this knowledge to understand when the system works differently than usual. This type of research is continuously helping us to unravel the mechanisms of depression, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and more. 

Here at UC San Diego and our neighboring institutions, neuroscience research takes a variety of forms. Some laboratories are working to understand which brain areas, neural circuits, cell types, and genes are involved in learning and memory. Other laboratories are focused on understanding the impact of drug addiction on brain function and decision-making.With multiple research institutes and a high density of neuroscience labs, San Diego is a vibrant place for neuroscience research.