Urban Barcode Research Program
About the Program

The Urban Barcode Research Program (UBRP) is a student research mentorship program supported by the Pinkerton Foundation.

This science education initiative engages NYC high school students in studies of biodiversity using DNA technology. Once accepted into the program, students take a training course covering basic concepts in biodiversity, conservation biology, and science research. This course also provides hands-on laboratory experience with common science research techniques. Students then conduct student-driven research projects using DNA barcoding under expert mentorship. The UBRP enables students to gain knowledge, confidence, and interest in science while studying the interaction between biodiversity and human activity. As part of the NYC Science Research Mentoring Consortium, students also have the opportunity to attend events at partnering institutions.

Student Eligibility

  • Students must be enrolled in grades 9-12 at a public or private high school in New York City. Students must reside in New York City.
  • Students must submit an online application, due May 27, 2024 to be considered for the program.
  • Selected students will be invited for group interviews in-person at the DNALC NYC in Downtown Brooklyn. A second round of individual interviews will take place on Zoom. Students must be able to attend a group interview in-person during the week of July 8-10, and a Zoom interview the week of July 22-26 if selected to move forward.
  • Lab training will take place August 26-30 at the DNALC NYC in Brooklyn. Students who are accepted into the program must attend this lab training, as well as additional training and workshop sessions that will be scheduled during the academic year.

Program Application and Structure

Please note that the structure of the UBRP has changed in 2024. Students now apply in the spring, and may be invited for interviews in the summer. After interviews, 36 students will be invited to continue in the UBRP. Teams of students will be matched with scientist mentors for the academic year. Mentors guide the students through all phases of the research process, beginning with project design and culminating in poster presentations at a research symposium in May or June.

Participation Requirements

  • Accepted students must attend the UBRP training course at the DNALC NYC in Downtown Brooklyn. The first required lab training course will take place August 26-30, and additional sessions will be scheduled during the school year.
  • Mentors and students define a work schedule to accomplish a minimum of 55 hours of research during the academic year to complete their project in time for presentation at a symposium in the spring.
  • Mentors help students plan, develop and conduct a DNA barcoding project. Key components of the research cycle include writing a research proposal, fieldwork and/or sample collection, DNA isolation, amplification of DNA barcoding regions, and analysis of DNA sequences.
  • Project staff coordinate with teams and mentors to ensure that projects are rigorous and appropriately scaled to achieve results during the time allotted.
  • Mentors receive a stipend of $2,000, in addition, the costs associated with obtaining and sequencing 50 specimens will be covered. Mentors also directly impact the science education and career trajectory of urban high school students.
  • Students who complete the 55 hours of research and present their projects at the Research Symposium each receive a $500 stipend.


The 2023-24 Urban Barcode Research Program Student Symposium will be held Wednesday, May 29, 2024 at the New York City College of Technology (City Tech) in Brooklyn.