The Dream-to-Goal (DTG) Summer Research Program is designed for motivated community-college students who are interested in exploring research careers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. This program will equip you with hands-on laboratory skills, provide research experience, and prepare you for success when you transfer to a four-year college or university, and beyond.

As a DTG Scholar, you will live on the VCU campus for 8 weeks and then return for another 8-week session the following summer. You will:

  • Gain hands-on skills and prepare to succeed in biology
  • Learn about the process of research, how to analyze data, and how to present your findings
  • Attend seminars on biomedical and behavioral research, academic success, and career development
  • Work with research faculty on a daily basis and conduct research in laboratories at VCU
  • Present your research at the Virginia Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting and an annual meeting and at a national scientific conference
  • Live, work, and play with people who share your interests
  • And, get paid a nice part-time wage

Summer Session 1: Biology Boot Camp + Research Internship

The summer begins with a three-week Biology Boot Camp. You will develop laboratory, quantitative, and critical-thinking skills, and learn how to think and work like a scientist.

For the next five weeks, you will apply what you learned in Biology Boot Camp and work as an intern in a biomedical or behavioral research laboratory. You will learn how to analyze and present your research findings.

The following May, you will attend the Virginia Academy of Science annual meeting. There will be additional activities throughout the academic year.

Summer Session 2: Mentored Research Experience + Career Counseling

This summer you will work on your own mentored research project with a VCU scientist, receive one-on-one academic advice and career counseling, and attend research seminars. You also will serve as big brothers and sisters to the first-year DTG Scholars.

The summer culminates with a poster session and closing ceremony.

The following fall, you will present a poster on your research at a national scientific conference with other DTG Scholars. Financial support will be provided.

If this sounds like an exciting opportunity, we encourage you to apply!


The 2020 Summer Program dates are: May 18 (move-in) - July 10, 2020.



Successful applicants should meet the NIH criteria of underrepresented in the Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences. A full definition can be accessed on the NIH website:

Applicants should have completed BIOL 101 & 102 and MTH 161/162, and have a minimum GPA of 2.5.

Apply here: 2020 DTG Summer Program Application

The final application must include a completed application form, an unofficial transcript, and two letters of recommendation. Please refer to the application form for more detailed information about how the application form, transcript, and letters of recommendation should be submitted.

Be proactive! The application form will take several hours to complete. You can complete this application over several sessions. Please note that some questions require more in-depth answers. We want to know what and how you think.

Be sure to ask for letters of recommendation as soon as possible. It will probably take 1-2 weeks for your recommenders to submit letters because they are very busy.

Applications received by Friday, February 14th will be given priority consideration.

For more information, please contact:

Karen Kester, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Biology
Principal Investigator and Program Director, VCU Bridges to the Baccalaureate
(804) 828-1562


2018 – 5th Bridges to the Baccalaureate Cohort:

Students in the 2018 cohort of VCU Bridges to Baccalaureate: Dream to Goal program, with Karen Kester, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Biology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, and Sarah Golding, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of undergraduate research in the Department of Biology.