OIP to host seventh annual summer immersion program that has recruited dozens of grad students to ACES
April 26, 2016
  • /Office of International Programs

The Office of International Programs (OIP) will host students from China, Ghana, and possibly Mexico as part of the seventh annual International Summer Immersion Program (ISIP) that begins on July 5.

The award-winning ISIP is a five-week program that includes a research apprenticeship with an ACES faculty member as well as a series of topical seminars, language classes that focus on English for graduate students, and cultural field trips. The program culminates with a poster session, where the students showcase their research experiences.

“This unique program, with more than 120 graduates in the past six years, has served to introduce many potential graduate students to the Urbana-Champaign campus,” said Suzana Palaska, associate director for OIP who coordinates the program. 

One such student is Jing Jin, an alum of the 2014 summer program, who joined the ACES Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition as a “3+2” program student this past August. (The “3+2” program consists of three years of undergraduate work at the student’s home institution and two years of graduate study at an institution abroad.) Jin is currently studying under Dr. Nicki Engeseth.

Jin said she certainly had the “3+2” in mind when she first visited the U of I as part of ISIP.

“I wanted to get a feel for the University, see the labs, and meet potential advisors,” Jin said.

Completing the ISIP program and especially the research project in Dr. Keith Cadwallader’s lab was life-changing for Jin and inspired her to apply to the graduate program at Illinois.

“Previously I had only worked with food chemistry, but by working with Dr. Cadwallader, I gained experience in a sensory lab working with aroma and taste. I learned how to use all the machines in this lab, and I met people I am still friends with today. The research project I completed, although relatively small because of the short timeframe of 40 days, is something that has added great value to my resume,” Jin said.

The quality and value of the ISIP program have been recognized by faculty and students at ACES’ key partner universities. At Zhejiang University, the program has repeatedly received the “Best Summer Group Program” award.  

In addition to Jin, more than 20 other ISIP alums have matriculated to graduate programs at Illinois. A new component to the ISIP program is to facilitate an alumni network of past students who are now at Illinois. 

“Continuing our relationship with former participants of ISIP is of great importance to the ACES Office of International Programs. Our alums are our best recruiters, and their positive experience with the program - our most potent advertisement. In an attempt to further nurture this important network, OIP will strengthen existing ties, plan alumni events, and organize 'mixers' with the new program participants in the coming months,” said Palaska.

The ISIP program is also a great opportunity for ACES faculty to cultivate new international collaborations.

OIP will soon be matching each new student with an ACES faculty mentor. Most of the students are interested in crop sciences, agricultural and biological engineering, and food science and human nutrition. If you are an ACES faculty or staff member interested in serving in a mentoring capacity, please contact Suzana Palaska at spalaska@illinois.edu.