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About the PSI Program

Elements of the Program


Cost: PSI is offered at no cost to students and all program activities are the result of dedicated volunteer efforts. If you are interested in helping with the program, please email us!

Attendance: Attendance is mandatory. Students must not have unexcused absences and may 
not participate if other activities such as sports, music, theater, job, etc. create a scheduling conflict. 

Homework: Students will be assigned homework regarding the lectures, which 
provide an in-depth examination of inquiry highlighting different scientific, translational, and clinical research approaches. We will learn techniques to read research articles and create proper citations via OHSU library research databases. In addition to the lectures, readings, and videos to watch at home will be assigned. Homework must be turned in on time and each student will receive feedback on his/her work.

Mentors: During the first several weeks of the program, research faculty who serve as mentors will present their research interests via pre-recorded videos. Students will be asked to submit a list of at least 3 mentors with whom they are interested in working. It will not be possible to pair all students with their first mentor choice. We use a first-come, first-serve system with the caveat that a student must be in good standing to earn a mentor (i.e., regular attendance and homework completion). It is always possible that we might not have enough mentors for every student, and this is the main reason that we are not able to accept all students who apply. PSI mentors expect a high-quality work ethic from students. 

Oral Presentations: Each student will prepare two presentations during the second half of the semester. One will be a "journal club" presentation of a published scientific article and the second will be a presentation of the research proposal developed by the student. Both of these presentations are required and will be completed with the assistance of the mentor.

Written Proposal: Each student will prepare a written document detailing their research proposal. This will be in the format of a grant application commonly used by the scientific community. A written research proposal is required. All written research proposals will be evaluated by a PSI program director and sent back to the student with feedback.

Summer Research (OPTIONAL): Most mentors will offer the student an opportunity to carry out his/her proposed research during the summer. It is not necessary to do the summer research to fulfill the program requirements, it is optional. Due to established policies at our partner research institutions and liability risk management practices regarding minors, students must be at least 16 before commencing summer research. Thus, we request each applicant's date of birth on the application form.

Credit: Students who successfully complete the program requirements may earn 0.5 high school credit and we will notify schools in the Fall to request this credit be put on students' transcripts. Most schools are willing to comply with this request. Students who successfully participate in optional summer research with their mentor may earn an additional 0.5 high school credit. Every student fulfilling the requirements of the program will also receive a letter of completion signed by the PSI Program Directors and Research Institution officials.

Important Notes


  • High school Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors are invited to apply.

  • Any student who will be younger than 16 in the summer is NOT eligible for the optional summer research component. Students should be 16 by June 1st to ensure timely administrative processing for summer research. 

  • It is not necessary to have taken many science courses in school.


The most important thing we look for is a genuine interest in learning how to think and ask questions like a scientist, not to know a lot of scientific or biological facts!

Meet the PSI Team:


Sofia Vignolo

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Program Coordinator

Sofia Vignolo is a 4th-year MD-PhD student in the OHSU Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program.

Her research focus is on bone regeneration with a clinical application in reconstructive surgery. She has experience in teaching under the Science Made Sensible program at the University of Miami as well as involvement in tutoring and mentorship throughout her career development. She aims to take an active role in inspiring the future generation of researchers to advance their scientific curiosity. 

Previous leadership:

The PSI program has a long history spanning over two decades. It was previously directed by a distinguished line of individuals: James Rosenbaum, MD, Edward Neuwelt, MD, Richard Rosenbaum, MD, Tammy Martin, Ph.D., Leslie Muldoon, Ph.D., and Hayleigh Ast, ND.


Viviane Cahen

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Teaching Assistant

Viviane Cahen is a 4th-year MD-MPH student in the OHSU School of Medicine Program. Her research focus is on various areas of public health including depression, healthcare access, and addiction medicine. She has experience in teaching as a former Upward Bound College Coach at Tulane University and as an academic tutor. She continually provides mentorship throughout her career. She aims to encourage future generations to believe in their capabilities, pursue a career in STEM, and be leaders in their field. 

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Erin Santos

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Teaching Assistant

Erin Santos is a 2nd-year PhD student in the OHSU Neuroscience Graduate Program. Her research focus is on studying the role of glial cells in regulating neural circuits and their impact on brain function. With an academic background in education, she collaborates nationally to provide mentorship and academic support to underserved communities. Passionate about increasing the accessibility of STEM opportunities, Erin encourages lifelong learning and  enthusiasm for science. 


Brittny Flynn

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Teaching Assistant

Brittny Flynn is a 4th year MD student in the OHSU School of Medicine and is preparing to begin her residency in surgery in the Summer of 2024. Her research focus includes improving access to healthcare and helping to minimize the impact of social determinants of health through advocacy and legislation. She is passionate about creating a supportive environment for students to thrive in. She helped to implement the peer support program for medical students at OHSU and teaches a course to train students to become peer supporters.

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