Countdown to SSTP: 7 Things You Should Pack

Countdown to SSTP: 8 Things to Do in Downtown Iowa City

During your time in Iowa City, you’ll be within walking distance of some awesome restaurants, shops, and festivals. Here are some fun things to do in your free time over the summer!

1. Play sports on the Pentacrest. Take advantage of the warm weather and play frisbee or soccer on the lawn of the famous Old Capitol.


2. Try a sweet treat at Molly’s Cupcakes. These cupcakes are award-winning for a reason.


3. Browse the book selection at he famous Prairie Lights bookstore. Order a coffee at their cafe while you shop.


4. Shop local. Visit local stores to find anything from clothes and jewelry to music and gifts.


5. Try downtown restaurants. Local restaurants boast vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Options range from burgers and wraps to sushi and curry.


6. Refuel at a local cafe. Enjoy a selection of local and organic coffee brands.


7. Take a stroll through the pedestrian mall. Pick up some frozen yogurt and listen to local musicians perform.


8. Get your groove on at the Iowa City Jazz Festival. Enjoy local food while listening to talented jazz groups all over downtown.

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Countdown to SSTP: 9 Famous Iowans

Read about some famous Iowa natives.

1. William “Buffalo Bill” Cody


Buffalo Bill was a bison hunter, Union soldier, and Pony Express rider. He was born in Le Claire, Iowa Territory.

2. Johnny Carson


Johnny Carson was hosted The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson for 30 years, winning many television awards. He was born in Corning, Iowa.

3. President Herbert Hoover


Herbert Hoover served as the 31st President of the United States during the Great Depression. Hoover was born in West Branch, Iowa.

4. George Gallup


George Gallup pioneered survey sampling techniques and invented the Gallup Poll, a method of measuring public opinion. He was born in Jefferson, Iowa.

5. John Wayne


John Wayne was an academy-award winning actor and filmmaker. He was born in Winterset, Iowa.

6. Nile Kinnick


Nile Kinnick was a University of Iowa college football player and winner of the 1939 Heisman Trophy. The University of Iowa renamed its football stadium after Kinnick. He was born in Adel, Iowa.

8: Ashton Kutcher


Ashton Kutcher is an actor and activist, best known for his roles in That 70’s Show and Two and a Half Men. He was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

8. James Van Allen


James Van Allen was a pioneer in the field of magnetospheric research in space. He was born in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa and studied at the University of Iowa.

9. Donna Reed


Donna Reed was an actress and producer, best known for her role in It’s a Wonderful Life. She was born in Denison, Iowa.

Image Sources:,16641,19590504,00.html

Countdown to SSTP: 10 Interesting Things about Iowa

Here’s a chance to get to know the state of Iowa before you arrive for the summer! Or, for Iowa locals, a chance to learn something new about your home state!

1. It’s not just cornfields. Iowa has a variety of landscapes from prairies and forests to caves and rivers.


2. It’s the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk from Star Trek. Riverside, Iowa has a monument dedicated to the character.


3. We’re the first to caucus. Iowa voters kick off the primary season in the United States.


4. We love wind energy. In 2015, over 30% of the state’s power came from wind farms.


5. Iowa City is one of the seven UNESCO world cities of literature. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop offers a world-renowned MFA program attended by authors like Kurt Vonnegut and Flannery O’Connor.


6. The University of Iowa was the first U.S. public university to admit men and women on an equal basis.

7. The University of Iowa granted the first law degree to a woman in 1873, and the first one to an African American man (Alexander G. Clark) in 1879.


8. In 1923, Iowa City elected the first woman to serve as leader of a U.S. city with a population of over 10,000. This woman was Emma J. Harvat.


9. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics have been named one of America’s top hospitals for over 20 consecutive years.


10. Iowa City was the first capital city of the state before it was moved to Des Moines. The Old Capitol building now serves as a major landmark of the city.


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Acceptance Status FAQ’s

Acceptance emails for the Summer 2017 Secondary Student Training Program go out today! With this information comes lots of questions, so here are answers to some of the most frequent questions we get.

Q: I’m an alternate. Why was I selected as an alternate?
A: Many, many things go in to the selection process for SSTP. We look at course grades, test scores, letters of recommendations, and essay responses. After selecting students based on these criteria we begin trying to find research group placements that would be a good match – based on research interests, any previous research experience, and high school coursework. When all of the pieces fall into place, we are able to offer those students a match in a research group for the summer. Sometimes, we are unable to match a student’s research interest, or the level of coursework does not match the requirements of the research mentor. In those cases, we are unable to invite students to come to SSTP.  Additionally, we have many, many more applications then we do available research spots.  In some cases we are still unable to offer students with outstanding application materials a spot in a research group right away.

Q: I’m an alternate. What number am I on the wait list?
A: Again, we work to match you with your indicated research interest. Because of this, names on the wait list aren’t just ranked 1 – 100. When a student declines their invitation to SSTP, we look for an alternate with similar research interests that might make a good match in the open research group seat.

Q: I’m an alternate. I really want to come to SSTP, but I’ve been invited to join other programs.  What should I do?
A: This is a question only you can answer.  We cannot guarantee that anyone on the wait list will be offered a spot in the SSTP program.

Q: I’ve been accepted. Why can’t I contact my mentor?
A: There are a few reasons we ask that you don’t contact your mentor. First, this is a busy time of year for faculty mentors as they are in the home stretch of their teaching assignments, helping students graduate, working on advisees’ dissertations, etc. In an effort to be respectful of their time, mentors do not formally engage with the program until June 1st.

Q: I’ve been accepted to SSTP! What’s next?
A: First and foremost, we need to know you’re serious about coming. And the way we know you’re serious is by making a down payment to attend SSTP for Summer 2017. You received information about making this payment in your email. You have 3 options:

1) Make an SSTP payment in full by April 10th,

2) Make the suggested downpayment to SSTP by April 10th, or

3) Contact the Belin-Blank Center to set up some sort of payment plan by April 10th.

The most important thing is that you make some sort of contact with us before April 10th to let us know you’re interested in coming to SSTP! Even if you’ve been accepted in to the program, if we don’t hear from you by April 10th and you have not made a financial commitment, we may give your spot to someone on the wait list.

Don’t Forget the $50 Application Fee!

Upon beginning your SSTP application, you first filled in your demographic information. The application website then led you to a page at which you could pay the $50 application fee. If you skipped this page, you will not be able to go back and access it again. Your application will not be considered if the $50 application fee has not been paid. If you skipped this step, no worries. Just give the Belin-Blank Center a call at (319) 335-6148 and you can pay over the phone. Feel free to give us a call if you’d like to double-check that your payment has been made.

SSTP Mentor Discusses New Approach to Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

Past SSTP mentor, neurologist Nandakumar Narayanan, studies Parkinson’s Disease. He and his research team have made an important breakthrough in understanding the disease as well as potential treatments. They explain these breakthroughs in an article from Iowa Now.


Neurologist Nandakumar Narayanan

His team found that timing makes an ideal tool to study cognitive problems in Parkinson’s Disease. By studying timing and cognitive abilities in human and mice with Parkinson’s Disease, the team discovered the importance of something called the delta brain wave. In healthy animals and humans, this wave is present in brain activity. However, in patients with PD, this wave is absent. By studying the neurocircuitry behind timing, Narayanan was able to use optogenetics to further investigate these findings.


Researchers activated a certain dopamine receptor in mice using light pulses. This resulted in no change in healthy mice, but, when activated at the same frequency as the delta wave signal, mice with impaired cognitive ability suddenly recovered their abilities. The study was published in Current Biology on December 15th. The results suggest that this type of brain stimulation could be used to improve these cognitive issues in patients with PD.

Read the full article here.

Images from Iowa Now and The Scientific Student.