Faculty Mini-Sabbatical

The Biology Department offers a 3-month summer sabbatical for faculty from minority-serving institutions (those with at least 20% underrepresented minority student enrollment) with limited research facilities, to conduct research in their area of interest at MIT. This faculty mini-sabbatical program is funded by an HHMI educational grant.  The program also funds one student from the faculty's home Institution to participate in the MIT Biology summer program and work under the supervision of the faculty. Scroll down for program description and eligibility.

Program Description

The primary goal of this summer mini-sabbatical is to provide the visiting faculty the resources and environment where they can expand their current research or investigate a new area of their choice, which they could continue at their home institution, or from which they could derive a new undergraduate teaching lab or lecture course. (See application details, below.) The faculty will work in collaboration with an MIT faculty host on a research project that is of mutual interest to both. Another goal of this program is to develop and promote interactions between faculty and scientists at MIT and at the visiting faculty's host institution, through further scientific collaborations, on-site visits, and seminars.

The program provides a summer salary and travel allowance for the faculty. Funding is also provided for one or two students from the faculty’s host institution to work closely with the visiting faculty on the research project at MIT. The students will be included in the Biology/BCS Undergraduate Internship and will need to meet the academic requirements of the program (see more details here).
At the end of the mini-sabbatical, the visiting faculty and his/her students will present a poster of their summer research and provide a 5-page summary of their research. In addition the faculty will give a seminar based on his/her summer research to members of the department.



Applicants must:

  • Be a full-time employee of an accredited minority-serving institution in the US.
  • Hold a tenure-track faculty appointment in a science department at their institution.
  • Teach full time and be actively involved in mentoring undergraduate science majors in biological and biomedical related fields (including chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, computer science).

Application process

Interested applicants should contact Dr. Mandana Sassanfar by email (mandana [at] mit.edu) and provide the following:

  • A completed application form (download form here)
  • A cover letter
  • A current CV
  • A 2-5 page research proposal for the 10-week summer sabbatical
  • A list of faculty at MIT who may be potential hosts
  • A letter of support from your department chair or Dean.
  • At least one recommendation letter from a senior colleague

Candidates will be invited to MIT to give a talk on their research proposal and to meet with potential host faculty between November and February.

Recent Participants

2011: Professor Mentewab Ayalew, from the department of Biology at Spelman College was hosted by Professor David Bartel, an HHMI investigator in the Biology department and a member of the Whitehead Institute. Her research area is in Plant Cellular and Molecular Biology, and more specifically understanding mechanisms of antibiotic resistance associated with a plant ABC transporter.  During her sabbatical in the Bartel lab Dr. Ayalew prepared RNA-seq libraries and optimized the isolation of polysomes from plant seedlings. At the same time, her student was receiving training in the analysis of RNA-seq and ribosome profiling data at the Whitehead Bioinformatics group.


2010: Professor Franklin Carrero-Martinez, from the department of Biology at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez was hosted by Professor Troy Littleton (Dept. of Biology, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory), and Professor Gustavo Lopez from the department of Chemistry at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez, was hosted by Professor Collin Stultz (Dept. of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science)