Category Archives: Uncategorized

Countdown to Applications

The Secondary Student Training Program at the University of Iowa is now officially open to applications! To prepare, let’s take a moment to go over what you can expect during the application process.

On the SSTP homepage, click on the green Apply Now button:



Step 1: Creating Your Account 

After clicking on Apply Now, you will be asked to create a personal application account. To make your account, you will be required to provide personal information, including your address, your home phone number, and your date of birth. Please make sure you include the email address you intend to use for all future communication with the Belin-Blank Center in the highlighted fields you see below:


Once you have filled out each of the fields, click on the Apply button to proceed to the next part of the application.

Step 2: The Application Fee

Next, you will land at the following page:


Click on Continue to proceed to the payment portal, where you will be asked to fill out credit card information. The application fee for SSTP at the University of Iowa is $50.00. Upon acceptance to the program, the $50.00 application fee will be credited towards your program costs. Please note that only Visa and Mastercard payment can be accepted.


The AmountInvoice Number, Description, Program, and Record_ID fields will populate automatically. Once you’ve filled out the top three fields (Name on cardCard NumberExpiration Date), click Process to complete the payment and move on to the next step of the application.

Step 3: Your Application Checklist

After clicking Process, you will land at the Application Checklist page. It will look something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 3.11.06 PM

Most of your the buttons should be red at the beginning, but they will turn green as you complete the various application requirements. To see a detailed description of what requirements you still have to complete, click on one of the red buttons.

Step 4: Application Responses and Research Interests

If you click on the Application Responses and Research Interests button, you will see the following:


On the left hand side are three prompts. The first two are essay questions. These essays are your chance to introduce yourself and communicate what makes you a great candidate for SSTP. For the essay questions, we strongly recommend composing your responses in a word processor such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs and using the word count tool. Both essay responses are capped at 750 words, so please watch your word count and be careful not to exceed it. Once you feel like you have answered the prompts to your satisfaction, click the Edit button below the final prompt, and then copy and paste your essays into the boxes that appear to the right:


The final prompt on the left hand side asks for your research interests. Here, you should not answer in essay form.

To save your entries in each field, click the Update button that appears below the final prompt.

Step 5: Application Materials

In addition to your essays and research interests, you will also have to submit 2 teacher recommendations, a high school transcript, and test scores from the SAT, PSAT, ACT, PLAN, or similar. To do so, click on the Application Materials button, and the following menu will pop down:

Application materials

You will see that for the teacher recommendations, we ask that you enter the email address of the teachers who intend to submit a recommendation letter on your behalf. First, talk to your teachers about your application, and see who can give you a recommendation. Then, once you have their confirmation, enter your 2 recommending teachers’ email addresses into the fields given and click Send Request.

You will also see that we ask for your high school transcript. Here, you should also include college-level courses you may have taken, as well as any other courses you may have taken outside of school. Please note, however, that only one document can be submitted, so make sure you merge all your transcript materials into a single .pdf document before uploading.

Lastly, you must submit 1 test score from a standardized exam. If you are unsure whether the test score you wish to submit meets our criteria, please contact us at with the details regard your test of choice before you submit it, and we will let you know if your test score is eligible as quickly as possible. You may submit only 1 score, so make sure you choose the test results that you feel best reflect your abilities.

Step 6: Where’s the Submit Button?

Once you have completed each section of the Application Checklist, each button will turn green, and your application status will say, “Complete – Pending Acceptance” as indicated below:


Once you see the “Complete” message, no further action is required. You can continue working on your application until the submission deadline on February 1st, at which time, you will no longer be able to edit your materials.

On April 2nd, 2018, successful applications will be notified of their acceptance via the email address provided in the application.

If you ever lose your place during the application process, have no fear. Simply navigate back to the application from the SSTP homepage and click on the green Apply Now button:


Good luck! Feel free to reach out to if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing your application.



Astrophysics Alumna’s SSTP Research Published


2015 Alumna Liza Casella must be over the moon. Last month, her SSTP mentor Dr. Philip E. Kaaret published the paper she co-authored, “Resolving the X-ray emission from the Lyman continuum emitting galaxy Tol 1247-232,” in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Dr. Kaaret’s study focused on a deep mystery of astrophysics: why do we see such bright stars in the night sky?

Galaxies-AGN-Inner-Structure.svgBlack holes may be the answer. After the big bang, the universe filled with gasses that, like clouds on a stormy day, should blot out interstellar light. The super-massive black holes at the cores of galaxies, however, spin so quickly that they shoot off matter, creating winds that pierce the cosmic fog and allowing light to shine through, Dr. Kaaret and his team hypothesize.

It looks like Ms. Casella, now studying at Barnard College, has a bright future ahead of her!


SSTP 2017: Week 5

Week 5 kicked off with a fencing class, followed by cupcake decorating at Molly’s Cupcakes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Monday night, students attended an informative seminar.


Tuesday, students visited the labs of Dr. Arlene Drack in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Dr. Hanna Stevens in the Department of Psychiatry.

Wednesday, our international students attended an International Reception.


Thursday, students attended the final session of their calligraphy and improv classes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Friday, students relaxed at a Kernels baseball game in Cedar Rapids.

Students spent Saturday at the Cedar Rapids Art Museum and the SkyZone Trampoline Park.

Check back for our final weekly update!

Closing Ceremony and Poster Fair

Just as the dog days of summer begin, the Secondary Student Training Program ends! Only a week remains before the 2017 SSTP cohort has to put the finishing touches on their brilliant research projects.

What have our students have been working on this summer? From epigenetics to Yelp analytics, student research projects have run the gamut of cutting-edge STEM topics. To celebrate their outstanding work, we will hold two events in their honor:

Closing Ceremony: This invite-only gala event brings together SSTP students, their families and their research groups for a farewell banquet. Proud parents get a first look at the research results, and the students get to share their findings with their peers.

Poster Fair: This one’s open to the public! On Friday, July 28th from 10:00am-12:00pm, the SSTP students will present their findings for all to see. No RSVP necessary. If you’re interested, we invite you to come to the Main Ballroom of the University of Iowa Memorial Union and discover just what SSTP is all about.


We hope to see you there!


SSTP 2017: Week 4

Week 4 kicked off with tie-dye followed by froyo with ICRU mentors.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On Monday, students attended a seminar held by Megan Foley Nicpon, PhD, associate professor in the Counseling Psychology Program.


Tuesday, students attended seminars given by Dr. Syed Mubeen, professor in the Chemical and Biochemical Engineering department, as well as Dr. Ned Bowden, professor of Chemistry.


On Wednesday, students celebrated Zach and Mark’s birthdays!


Thursday, students attended another session of their improv and calligraphy courses.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Friday, students relaxed at game night before heading to the Eastern Iowa Observatory and Learning Center.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Students cooled off Saturday at Lost Island Waterpark.


Check back next week for another update!

SSTP 2017: Week 3

SSTP students started week 3 with a round of trivia and some 4th of July fireworks!

Monday, students attended a seminar given by writer Meenakshi Gigi Durham.

On the 4th, students had a break from research, and took a dip in the local pool. They enjoyed s’mores and games before heading back to the Blank Honors Center for henna tattoos.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On Thursday, students learned new techniques from their improv and calligraphy teachers.

On Friday, kids painted mugs and bowls at Fired Up!

Saturday was an active day, starting with a visit to the Macbride Raptor Center.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Students took a hip hop dance class in the afternoon, taught by a University of Iowa dance major.

Finally, students unwound with a yoga class in the evening.

Check back next week for another update!

SSTP 2017: Week 2

Week 2 started off with an informative research seminar.

Tuesday, students went on lab tours in the Biology and Pharmacology departments.

Students gained more practice with calligraphy and improv, then relaxed with a trip to the local mall to shop and ice skate.

On Saturday, they attended the Iowa City Jazz Festival and Riverside Theatre’s production The Bomb-Itty of Errors.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Check back next week for another update!