2 female students examining a human lung sample

SPARK: Students Pursuing Applications, Research, and Knowledge

Welcome Invited SPARK Freshmen

Congratulations on your admission to Illinois and the opportunity to apply for the AHS SPARK Undergraduate Research program!

SPARK provides a gateway for creating a comprehensive educational experience for students. High-caliber freshmen are paired with faculty members who will integrate the freshmen into their research programs. SPARK students can earn up to a $2,500 work stipend by participating in undergraduate research. It is a great opportunity to discover the field of research and earn some money at the same time. No prior research experience is required or expected. Faculty are looking for curious, motivated and hard-working students that are excited to learn and be trained. Based on interests and career goals, we try to match students appropriately with a research group.

SPARK strives to help students:

  • Build a solid academic foundation
  • Develop effective research skills
  • Improve interpersonal communication skills
  • Prepare for the workforce, graduate school, or professional school.

Are you ready to apply for SPARK?

Only invited incoming freshmen in AHS are eligible to apply

To participate in SPARK, invited students must:

• Accept the Offer of Admission to the University of Illinois: Accept offer

• Complete the Online Interest Form by June 1. Interest Form


SPARK Research in Review

The culmination of SPARK is the presentation of slides on each student's research efforts. We are thrilled by the hard work completed by all the SPARK students. Below the Showcase you can see more information about the SPARK students and the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Congratulations SPARK students!

Message from the Dean

SPARK Research in Review

Undergraduate Research Symposium 2024

These are the SPARK students participating in the 2024 Undergraduate Research Symposium.

  • Ava Amabile: Investigating Topic Maintenance and Organization to Advance Understanding of Kindergarten and First Grade Opinion Writing
  • Saiesha Bollapragada: Public Health Preparedness Among UIUC Students During Extreme Heat Conditions
  • Tess Giddens-White: Speech Intelligibility with Airpods Pro
  • Shaun Gillespie: Testing Speech Intelligibility Using Firefighter’s Two-Way Radios
  • Kate Gronlund: Latina and Latino Experts’ Perceptions of Activity-Friendly Routes to Everyday Destinations
  • Claire Grossen: Online Adult Entertainment Platforms: Understanding Motivations and Differences between the Users and Non-Users
  • Kate Harty: Vocal Effort in Dining Halls to Optimize Speech Intelligibility
  • Brianna Osmon: Entrainment to Naturally and Rhythmically Spoken Speech: Effect of Age and Hearing loss
  • Megan Thing: Effects of Age, Hearing Loss, and Test Modality on Memory for Backward Digits
  • Alexa Worthley: Usability Testing of a Digital Medication Self-Management Tool for Persons with Mild Cognitive Impairment
  • Max Zagorski: Differences in the Multidimensional Sexual Self-Concept between Transgender and Cisgender Individuals


If you have any questions about the SPARK program, please contact Dr. Tonya Pulley, tonyap@illinois.edu.