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High School Special Topics Program

What is the Special Topics Program?

Selected high school students will complete a program on a topic of their choosing, meeting approximately one hour each week throughout the semester with our volunteer STEM & Leaf Mentors and other program participants. Our mentors come from a variety of backgrounds, including undergraduate and graduate students from several departments. This is an unparalleled opportunity to learn about topics traditionally unavailable in high schools, showcase your talents on a collegiate level, and create projects that will have impact in your local community!

The meetings have been conducted virtually since the beginning of the pandemic, but we are excited to announce the launch of in-person, hybrid, and online options for students this semester! Any high school student from any part of the world may participate in the online programs (but please note that meeting times will be set in CST). 

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Important Dates: Spring 2023 Session

Student Application  Opens

Student Application  Deadline *EXTENSION*

First Week of Sessions

Last Week of Sessions

Wednesday, January 11th

Friday, February 10th at 5PM CST

Week of January 31st

Week of May 1st

Week of January 26th

What are the Topics?

Topics for the Spring 2023 semester can be viewed here. Below are examples of previous topics from our program.

  • Creative Writing (Discussion + Writing) [Spring 2022]

  • Healthcare Philosophy and Policy (Discussion) [Spring 2022]

  • Culture in Spanish Speaking Countries (Discussion) [Spring 2022]

  • Political Organizing: Running a Campaign (Discussion) [Fall 2021]

  • Creative Writing (Discussion + Project) [Fall 2021]

  • Artificial Intelligence & the Philosophy of Mind (Lecture + Discussion) [Fall 2021]

  • Health Philosophy & Policy (Discussion) [Fall 2021]

  • Introduction to Cancer Biology (Discussion + Research + Publication) [Fall 2021 and Spring 2022]

  • Introduction to Modern Agriculture (Discussion + Research) [Fall 2021]

  • Ancient Greek Philosophy (Discussion) [Fall 2021]

  • Healthcare Informatics: The New Frontier (Discussion) [Fall 2021]

  • Mathematical Linguistics (Research) [Spring 2020]

  • Computational Biology (Project-Based) [Fall 2020]

  • Computational Linguistics (Research) [Fall 2020]

  • Music and Memory (Discussion + Research) [Spring 2021]

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Student Eligibility

  • Students must be 13 years or older

  • Students must be in high school

  • Parent/Guardian permission required

  • Parent/Guardian must submit application


"​The STEM & Leaf Corps gave me an unique opportunity to dive deeper into biological topics through an interesting project. I learned valuable information about coding, which I had little knowledge of beforehand, so it was an amazing learning experience!"

~Prashamsa Ghimire, Computational Biology, Fall 2020

Meet Our Coordinators!


Anna Schmieding

B.S. Animal Science: Pre-Vet '23

B.A. Spanish '23


Heath Hampton

B.S. Biology '23

Minor in Spanish

We are so excited to be a part of this program! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.


If you are an undergraduate or graduate student (from any university), we would love to have you as a mentor! Mentor recruitment takes place during the summer and winter breaks, so keep an eye out for the application during those times. We have finished recruiting mentors for the Spring 2023 sessions. 

Other Questions?

If you have any questions about the modality of the Special Topics Programs, Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, Mentor Commitment, or any concerns of any kind, please do not hesitate to reach out to either of the Special Topics Program coordinators directly or email

If you are an undergraduate or graduate student and interested in leading a special topics program, please complete the mentor interest form and email the program coordinators.

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