COMPASS Scholars Program


The COMPASS Program (Creating Opportunities through Mentorship and Partnership Across Stem cell Science) is a statewide initiative funded by the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). In 2022, BSP was awarded $2.9M to support 5 cohorts of BSP COMPASS Scholars over the next 5 years (~26 students in total) in partnership with the Berkeley Stem Cell Center.

The BSP COMPASS Scholars Program is for current BSP students who are interested in gaining in-depth and sustained research experience in stem cell biology and preparing for a variety of careers in the field of regenerative medicine. This research experience is not designed to simply provide technical training. It is intended to expose curious undergraduates to many aspects of regenerative medicine including career exploration, professional development and community outreach. Importantly, top candidates will demonstrate why research is important to their overall development, convey passion for discovery in a select research area, and will possess a willingness to share their research experience with the BSP community and others, including during BSP COMPASS alumni activities.

The BSP COMPASS Scholars program provides students with a comprehensive experience in stem cell research, including: 

  • Mentored research in a Berkeley Stem Cell Center lab  (BSP COMPASS facilitates matching students with a lab) 

  • Professional and career development activities 

  • Coursework tailored to stem cell topics

  • Community outreach 

  • Capstone research presentation

  • Community of COMPASS Scholars

  • Financial support

Student Eligibility

IMPORTANT: COMPASS is a one or two-year long program, encompassing the academic semesters and the summers. However, good standing in the COMPASS program and continuous stipend award is dependent upon PI and BSP review and approval at the end of each semester.

Student Eligibility

  1. Currently enrolled as a BSP student with one to two years remaining at UC Berkeley. Count your remaining years starting in Fall 2024.

  2. Have a strong interest in a stem cell and/or regenerative medicine career.

  3. Ready to commit to a long-term program (summer, fall and spring terms).

  4. Participants are expected to commit full-time to research and other COMPASS activities during the summer. A summer course may be approved, by exception, if required to maintain the Scholar’s graduation timeline.

  5. Ready to commit to a long-term research project.

  6. Ability to work 10 hrs/wk in Fall and Spring (plus co-curricular activities), and 40 hrs/wk in Summer (30 hrs/wk research, 10 hrs/wk COMPASS co-curricular activities).

  7. DACA/AB 540 students are eligible to apply.

COMPASS Expectations and Activities

Please read carefully before applying.

The BSP COMPASS Program is a one to two-year research program, depending on your time left before graduating. For example, the 2024 cohort will run from Summer 2024-Spring 2026 for students with two years remaining. Students are expected to work on research for 10 hrs/week during the academic year, and 30 hrs/week during summer months. Additional time will be required for co-curricular activities. 

Program Expectations

In general the program period covers (excluding university holidays):

  • Summer: Tuesday after Memorial Day - end of Summer term (10 weeks)

    • The Summer 2024 start date is Monday, May 20 for the QB3 Lab Fundamentals bootcamp. 
  • Fall: First day of instruction - last day of formal classes (15 weeks)

  • Spring: First day of instruction - last day of formal classes (15 weeks)

*These dates are required by the COMPASS program but your research supervisor may request you work on dates not covered here (e.g. Spring Break, Winter Break). Those dates should be negotiated between student and supervisor.

If selected, COMPASS participants will be expected to:

  • During the summer: Conduct research for 30 hrs/wk and participate 10 hrs/wk in BSP COMPASS co-curricular activities.

  • During the academic year: Conduct research for 10 hrs/wk and attend designated workshops and courses (virtual and in-person).

  • Meet with the BSP Research Coordinator, Dr. Emily King, monthly.

  • Complete program evaluations.

  • Actively engage in scientific discovery, ask questions, and embrace your research and curiosity.

After completing the COMPASS program, COMPASS alumni will continue to engage with the program through:

  • Annual surveys (up to 3 yrs post-graduation)

  • Panels for current and prospective COMPASS students

  • Mentorship and networking opportunities

BSP COMPASS Scholar Activity Timeline


Summer 1 Academic Year 1 (Fall/Spring) Summer 2 Academic Year 2 (Fall/Spring)
Research Training COMPASS Research (30 hrs/wk) COMPASS Research (10 hrs/wk) COMPASS Research (30 hrs/wk) COMPASS Research (10 hrs/wk)
  • QB3 Lab Fundamentals Class (1-week) 
  • UCSF Benioff Oakland SSRP Lecture Series
  • Major Coursework
  • COMPASS Seminar Course
  • Major Coursework
  • COMPASS Seminar Course
  • Senior Thesis
Career and Professional Development
  • Weekly Scholar Group Meetings
  • Monthly Individual Check-ins
  • COMPASS Seminar Course
  • Monthly Individual Check-ins
  • Weekly Scholar Group Meetings
  • Monthly Individual Check-ins
  • COMPASS Seminar Course
  • Monthly Individual Check-ins
  • Outreach Activities
  • Outreach Activities
  • Capstone Poster at Cal Day
  • Research (30 hrs/wk)
  • Other COMPASS Activities (10 hrs/wk)
  • Research (10 hrs/wk)
  • Other COMPASS Activities (~2 hrs/wk)
  • Research (30 hrs/wk)
  • Other COMPASS Activities (10 hrs/wk)
  • Research (10 hrs/wk)
  • Other COMPASS Activities (~2 hrs/wk)

*Students in the one year program will complete the activities listed for Summer 1 and Academic Year 2. 

Stipend & Benefits

Through generous funding from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the BSP will support COMPASS Scholars with a research stipend, tuition support, research funds and conference travel funding.

Stipend and Benefits

Stipend Amount

Student researchers will receive up to $18,000 per year. 

  • Academic year (September - May): $9,000 total - $1,000/month 

  • Summer (June - August): $9,000 total - $3,000/month

Tuition and Fees

There is the possibility that some tuition fees may be paid for using COMPASS Scholars Funds. Tuition support is restricted to CIRM approved courses. More information about tuition support will be provided soon.

Program Related Travel

Up to $1,000 per year is available for program related travel. These travel funds include travel expenses incurred by mandatory attendance at a CIRM sponsored conference each year. 

Selection Process

  1. BSP COMPASS Scholars application opens. (Winter 2024)

  2. Students apply to BSP’s COMPASS Program. (Deadline: February 13, 2024 at 10 AM PST)

    1. COMPASS Activity Plan: Students must meet with a BSP advisor to discuss their Activity Plan before February 6th, 2024.
  3. Applications are reviewed by the program committee.

  4. BSP staff will interview selected candidates. 

  5. Lab matching interviews between selected candidates and faculty/direct mentors. (March 14 - Apr 5, 2024)

  6. Decision notifications will be distributed. (no later than April 19, 2024)

  7. COMPASS Scholar orientation meeting. (Approximate: May 2024)

Application Components

  • Personal and Demographic Information

  • Interest Statements (short-answer questions)

  • Ranked Mentor/Lab Preferences

  • Current Resume 

  • Unofficial Transcripts

  • COMPASS Activity Plan (must meet with a BSP advisor to discuss, before February 6th, 2024)

  • Financial Information

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

What We Are Looking For

  • Consistency and engagement with the COMPASS event series of prep activities.

    • All recorded components are available on bCourses.

  • A schedule that allows you to fully engage in research and all COMPASS training activities in balance with your personal priorities.

  • Those who clearly demonstrate why research is important to their overall development.

  • An in-depth interest statement about why you’d like to pursue a career in  regenerative medicine.

  • Students for whom financial support would significantly enhance their ability to participate in research.

  • Individuals who possess a commitment and willingness to share their research experience with the BSP community and others.

For Mentors

Graduate students and post-doctoral researchers in Berkeley Stem Cell Center affiliated labs can serve as direct mentors - although the faculty/PI of the lab must also agree to be a mentor. Faculty can be direct mentors if they plan to fulfill all expectations. Both direct mentors and faculty mentors should be invested in the student’s success. Potential mentors should be aware that students are not required to have any research experience before joining COMPASS. 

Mentor Expectations

  • Direct mentors: 
    • Attend mentor orientation in late Spring 2024

    • Day-to-day mentoring of COMPASS Scholar

    • Mandatory monthly Advancing Practice meetings with the Biology Scholars Program

    • Use Individual Development Plans (IDPs) and Mentoring Agreements

    • Respond to periodic program evaluations

  • PIs: 

    • Attend mentor orientation in late Spring 2024

    • Meet with COMPASS Scholar at least once per term

    • Support direct mentors in their role

    • Respond to periodic program evaluations

Matching Process

COMPASS staff will begin recruiting interested mentors in November 2023. COMPASS applicants will rank their interest in relevant labs/projects in early Spring 2024. Students selected to move forward by BSP will meet with potential mentors to determine the final match. Please be prepared to arrange interviews with potential Scholars between March 14-April 5, 2024.