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Inside Look: Senior Research at TJ

The Senior Research Program at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) is an opportunity for students to engage in independent research projects that explore a wide range of topics and fields. This program allows students to conduct original research, work with expert mentors, and present their findings to the TJHSST community and beyond.

The Senior Research Program is part of TJHSST’s mission to provide students with a rigorous and challenging education that prepares them for the most demanding and rewarding careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The program is open to (and as of now, required for) all seniors at TJHSST, regardless of their intended college major or career path. The program offers students the opportunity to pursue independent research projects in a wide range of fields, including biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, and engineering. A full list of TJHSST Senior Research labs include:

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

  • Automation and Robotics

  • Biotechnology

  • Chemical Analysis and Nanochemistry

  • Computer Systems

  • Engineering Design

  • Energy Systems

  • Microelectronics

  • Mobile & Web Application Development

  • Neuroscience

  • Oceanography/Geophysical Systems

  • Quantum Physics and Optics

  • Prototyping and Engineering Materials

The Senior Research Program is a unique opportunity for students to engage in original research and work with expert mentors. Students are encouraged to identify and propose research projects that reflect their interests and passions. Once accepted into a particular lab (each requires an application), students are matched with a faculty mentor who provides guidance and support throughout the research process. These mentors are experts in their respective fields and have extensive experience in conducting research and publishing scholarly work.

As an alternative to completing the lab at the school itself, the student can potentially partake in the "mentorship" program, working directly in the lab of a DMV-area for-profit company or research institute. Examples of companies that have been partners (offering mentorship to TJ students) include George Washington University, the NIH, and K2M.

Through the Senior Research Program, students gain valuable experience in the research process, including formulating hypotheses, designing experiments, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting findings. This experience prepares students for the rigors of college-level research and provides them with a competitive edge when applying to top-tier universities and graduate programs.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Senior Research Program is the opportunity to present findings to the TJHSST community and beyond. Students in the program participate in a research symposium where they present their research findings to their peers, faculty, and industry experts. This symposium allows students to showcase their research and communicate their findings to a broader audience. While the current TJ Administration has all but dismantled the symposium (currently known as tjStar), it still runs annually. Under today's administration, it does not have nearly as much reach as it used to. Additionally, students in the program have the opportunity to present their research at regional and national conferences such as ISEF, further showcasing their accomplishments and building their network in the field.

As we think about how we might incorporate this information into an application, it is important to note that the senior research track and desired coursework will be an essential part of formulating your answer to the underlying question "Why TJ." Think critically about which path you would want to pursue if admitted, and how that ties into your broader career interests.

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