Physics Innovators Initiative 2021 Summer Scholars Program

Physics Innovators Initiative 2021 Summer Scholars Program

Berkeley Physics is proud to launch the Physics Innovators Initiative (Pi2) Scholars Program. This program provides funding for undergraduates to perform research, learn to design the tools that enable such research, develop their scientific independence, and realize their potential as physicists. $5500 summer stipend will be provided for Pi2 scholars.

Each Pi2 scholar works closely with dedicated graduate students and/or postdoc mentors on their projects. Pi2 Scholars also participate in a number of activities with their cohorts which could include lectures, roundtable discussions and hiking excursions. Final projects require a written report and a poster presentation open to the whole department at the end of the summer.


Meet the 2021 Pi2 Summer Scholars! 

Watch a short video with interviews of a few of the Pi2 Scholars:

Click here to meet the 2021 Pi2 Summer Scholars and their mentors

Click here to read the 2021 Pi2 Summer Scholar Reports



FEBRUARY 5: Stage 1 Applications Due
FEBRUARY 22: Mentor/Mentees Partners announced
MARCH 12: Stage 2 Pi2 Summer Scholar Proposal due
MARCH 30: Pi2 Summer Scholars Announced



You may apply for Pi2 fellow 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


Selection Criteria

The Pi2 scholars will be selected by a two-stage application.

In stage 1, students can choose up to three summer research projects that they are interested in from the list below.  Applicants must submit their choices of projects with a few-sentence description on their motivation for each project by February 5th. Applicants should also include grades for Physics courses taken in the last year. Following this submission, candidates will be interviewed by graduate student/postdoc mentors.  Selection of mentor-mentee pairs will be created based on mutual interests by February 22nd.

View the list of projects
Use this form to submit the projects you are interested in

In Stage 2, the mentor-mentee will work together as a team and submit the full application by March 5th. 

This application will consist of: 

Mentorship Plan

The mentor should write a brief (1 page max) mentoring plan, describing the project, including 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 (1/2 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. 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.

Application materials are due March 12, 2021, and will be submitted by the mentor.



The Pi2 scholar awards will be announced at the end of March.

Pi2 scholars will receive a $5500 summer stipend, and $750 will be provided to the research mentor. Another $250 can be used for research-related expenses pertaining to the project.


Selection Committee:

Andres Franco Valiente
Haoxing Du
Hannah Weaver
Vikram Nagarajan
Charles Brown
Feng Wang
Eric Betzig
James Analytis


Return to the main Pi2 page.