Information about RSI, Research Science Institute

RSI is a 6-week program for 75 bright high school juniors (50 from the US, 25 from abroad) held each summer at MIT. After an initial week of classes, the students are paired with research mentors who may be faculty, staff, postdocs, or graduate students. Under the supervision of their mentor, they do research projects similar to summer UROPs. Although the project duration is limited, the students are extremely bright, highly motivated, and well supported by RSI staff and tutors. You will not have to teach them latex or matlab or how to write good prose. At the end of the program the students write papers describing their research and give 10-minute oral presentations.

The typical RSI student is comparable to the very best MIT sophomore physics major. Some of them participate in the International Physics (or other) Oympiad. Some of them place in the top 10 of the Intel (formerly Westinghouse) Science Talent Search, aka the US national science fair.

RSI was featured in an article in Business Week magazine.

I love RSI and look forward to participating each summer as a mentor. I have been involved with the program since 1998 and have supervised a number of students, as follows.

1998: Natalia Toro, An Independent Analysis of Evidence for n_m <--> n_t Oscillations in the Super-Kamiokande Atmospheric Neutrino Data (First Place, 1999 Intel Science Talent Search)
1999: Christopher Cueva, Gravitational Lensing from a Point Source Orbiting a Schwarzschild Black Hole
2001: Vivek Venkatachalam, Analysis of the Omega Diagram for Cosmic Microwave Background Anisotropy and Type Ia Supernovae (Ninth Place, 2002 Intel Science Talent Search)
    and David Yoshida, The Formation of Supermassive Black Holes from Pre-galactic Fragments
2002: Joshua Gottlieb, Modeling Spiral Density Waves in Black Hole Accretion Disks
2003: Drew Reese, On the Effectiveness of Dark Energy and General Relativity in Modeling the Universe
2004: Marissa Cevallos, Distribution and Detectability of Dark Matter in the Present Universe (Semifinalist, 2005 Intel Science Talent Search)
2005: Peter Roussev, Shrinking the Wavefunction (Semifinalist, 2006 Intel Science Talent Search)
2007: Samantha Powers, Hydrogen Recombination in Natural Masing
2008: Marianna Mao (supervised by Phillip Zukin and Sarah Vigeland), Gravitational Radiation from Encounters with Compact Binaries in Globular Clusters (Finalist, 2009 Intel Science Talent Search)
2009: Shannon Grammel (supervised by Paola Rebusco), Comparison of Simulated and Observational Catalogs of Hypervelocity Stars in Various Milky Way Potentials

Being a RSI mentor requires that you or a co-worker be present during the 5 weeks of research activities. (A few days' absence is permissible.) In 2012 the research program dates are June 29 to July 31. Mentoring typically involves meeting with the student one to two hours per weekday, except July 4. Unless they need specialized equipment, the students are able to work fairly independently.

More information about the program is available at the Center for Excellence in Education, the organization that runs RSI, and at the local MIT RSI site. More information for mentors is available here.

Send comments and questions to
Last modified: Thursday, April 26, 2012