The Physics Innovators Initiative (Pi2) Scholars Program

Student presenting a poster at the Pi2 Symposium

The Physics Innovators Initiative (Pi2) is our vision for modernizing, streamlining, and strengthening the path students follow as they pursue their undergraduate careers.

Pi2 Summer Scholars Program

Inspiring Creativity, Nurturing Curiosity, Encouraging Exploration

The educational mission of Berkeley Physics is to equip students with the skills, motivation, and confidence to become creative scientists. More than mastering facts and figures, we want our students to become         

  • inquisitive - able to question their own understanding and delve deeper
  • problem solvers - able to confidently seek answers through laboratory explorations and critical analysis
  • collaborative - able to contribute to the learning of others while validating their own discoveries, through discussion and debate

Pi2 Summer Scholars Program is designed to create funded summer research opportunities for undergraduates and rewards graduate students for their mentorship. The goal of the program is to expand the number of undergraduates engaged in research by alleviating some of the financial strain of performing summer research, connecting undergraduates to graduate, and faculty mentors, and to highlight student leadership in our community.

This program provides funding for undergraduates over the summer to perform research, learn to design the tools that enable such research, develop their scientific independence, and realize their potential as physicists.

Each Pi2 scholar will work closely with dedicated graduate student mentors on their projects. All scholars should attend regular Pi2 social events in the summer. Final projects will require a written report and a poster presentation open to the whole department at the end of the summer.

Watch a short video to learn more about the Pi2 Program:

How to Apply

The Pi2 program is run by the Department of Physics. The two-stage application will open at the beginning of the Spring Semester. In stage 1, students can choose up to three summer research projects that they are interested in. Applicants must submit their choices of projects with a few-sentence description on their motivation for each project. Applicants chosen to move forward in the application process to stage 2 will work with the mentor-mentee to submit the full application, consisting of a Mentorship plan, Research Proposal, and Leadership statement.


You may apply for Pi2 Program if you meet all of the following:

  • are a Physics track student currently enrolled in UC Berkeley. Visiting or UC Berkeley extension students are not eligible
  • have a minimum 3.0 GPA
  • are able to devote yourself to research full-time for a minimum of eight weeks during the summer
  • will generate a written report of the project and give a departmental poster presentation at the end of the summer

This application will consist of:

Mentorship Plan

The mentor should write a brief (1 page max) mentoring plan, which addresses a plan to provide mentorship while describing the project. It should include a description of the tools the applicant will help design and develop. It should demonstrate the feasibility of the project within the summer time frame. The mentors must also include a description of how they will assist the professional development of the applicant (e.g. opportunities to give a talk, writing and communication skills, engagement in discussions, creating opportunities to show independence). The mentorship plan should demonstrate a systematic plan to develop the mentee as a physicist. This includes creating opportunities to present work, lead scientific discussions, demonstrate independence and opportunities to drive their own scientific ideas. Mentorship plans should emphasize that the mentee will be given the opportunity to own the research, not simply assist in it.

Research Proposal

The applicant should write a brief (1 page max) research proposal, describing why the applicant is interested in research in general and the specific project decided upon with their mentor. The research proposal should be a succinct description of the summer project and its goals. The proposal should outline a specific research product they anticipate completing in the summer including constructing a new experimental apparatus, developing analysis software or algorithms, designing a new measurement technique, creating software for data mining or machine learning, synthesizing new materials. Proposals should be written by the undergraduate applicant with guidance from the mentor and PI.

Leadership Statement

The applicant should write a brief (1 page max) leadership statement. This describes the applicant's engagement in promoting scientific progress in our community (e.g. engagement in public outreach, efforts to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion, initiatives to create a welcoming and innovative scientific culture on campus. The leadership statement must be compelling and will be heavily weighed. Students should eloquently describe a specific challenge they have faced in their journey as a physicist, how they dealt with it and what they learned from the experience. They should also describe the challenges they feel passionate about that we face as a physics community, and describe how they are or would like to answer this challenge themselves. Narratives should highlight a student's ability to compromise, collaborate and help others.

The PI sign off on the application to ensure they are aware and approve of the plan.

More information linked here

Previous Pi2 Scholars and Mentors

2023 Pi2 Summer Scholars and Mentors

2022 Pi2 Summer Scholars and Mentors

2021 Pi2 Summer Scholars and Mentors