Summer Academies 2023




SFU Summer Academies are one-week, residential, immersive programs for high school students who are currently in grades 10 and 11 (and are at least 15 years old) and are interested in pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering, arts, or mathematics. This year we are offering programs in chemistry, theatre, engineering design, environmental science and watershed restoration, pre-med, and cybersecurity and computer science.


Registration for 2023 is now closed. 

Summer Academies 2023

Academies will be held the weeks of June 25-30 and July 9-14, 2023. Dates of academies are noted beside each academy. Thanks to generous funding, most academies are offered at the discounted rate of $550; the Environmental Science and Engineering Academy is $150. This includes all instruction materials, plus room and board on our beautiful campus. 


Participants will be eligible for a $1,000/year scholarship (up to four years) to SFU if enrolling as a full time SFU student within 28 months of high school graduation, and receive one college credit.


We are offering the following academies:

  • Chemistry Exploration Academy (June 25-30, 2023)
  • Improvising and Devising Theatre (June 25-30, 2023)
  • Pre-Med Academy  (June 25-30, 2023)
  • Computer Science and Cybersecurity Boot Camp (July 9-14, 2023)
  • Design of a Lunar Base (July 9-14,2023)
  • Environmental Science and Engineering Academy:  Water Reclamation (July 9-14, 2023)
*Academies will only run if a minimum number of students enroll. If a student's first choice does not run, participants will be offered a place in a different academy or their deposit will be refunded.
Explore our academies offered

Academic Details

  • Chemistry Exploration Academy

    June 25-30, 2023

    Have you ever wondered what a forensic chemist does? How did your chemistry teacher learn so much about elements? Can you turn your knowledge of chemistry into a career? Through our summer academy, we will show you the exciting avenues that are open to someone with a chemistry major!   

    Not only will you have the opportunity to conduct experiments and hands on activities relevant to cutting edge jobs, but you will also hear from SFU graduates who have turned their chemistry education into a career. Together, we will explore various tracks through which you can become a pharmacist, medical doctor, environmental, forensic, or fermentation chemist, chemistry teacher, or researcher in the emerging field of nanochemistry.

    Thanks to sponsorship from Art Springsteen for this academy.



    Dr. Ashley Smith

    Dr. Ashley Smith-Diemler

    Dr. Smith-Diemler is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry who earned her Ph.D. in Inorganic/Materials Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. She is also the director of the Rural Outreach Chemistry for Kids (R.O.C.K.) program, which travels to local schools and libraries to show K-12 students that science can be both fun and interesting. Her research interests include Green Chemistry methods for nanoparticle synthesis and ligand exchange and characterization on gold nanoparticles. 


    Dr. Rose Clark
    Dr. Rose Clark

    Dr. Rose A. Clark is a Professor of Chemistry who earned her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the North Carolina State University. Her research interests include investigating electron transfer proteins to better understand how they function in biosensors and characterizing biosensor surfaces with Atomic Force Microscopy.


    Jane Gleason
    Ms. Jane Gleason

    Ms. Jane Gleason, lab Instructor for Human, General and Organic Labs earned a BS in Chemistry from LIU-Southhampton, then worked as a Research Chemist for United Guardian, Inc. and as a Research Microbiologist for Estee Lauder. 


    Dr. Benjamin Smith

    Dr. Benjamin Smith grew up in Wisconsin and Kansas. He received his Ph. D. in chemistry from Penn State where he worked with Dr. Chris Keating. After graduation, he taught at Saint Francis University from 2013-2017 before moving between Ohio, Michigan, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. In 2022, he returned to Pennsylvania and SFU. Ben often teaches introductory chemistry lectures and labs. He is interested in nanotechnology: how do we make really small things, how do they interact, and how do we make them assemble? He is also interested in analytical chemistry: how much is in there and what is that made of? And, he is also interested in fermentation (cheese, yogurt, vinegar, beer, wine…): why does that taste so good and how do we make that? 


    Dr. Ed Zovinka
    Dr. Edward Zovinka

    Dr. Zovinka is a Professor of Chemistry who earned his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of California at Davis. He studies acid mine drainage (AMD) remediation, focusing on the surface chemistry between metal ions and calcite. He also studies the science of Paint Pouring, the artwork made famous by Jackson Pollack and the use of mechanochemistry in synthesis.

  • Improvising and Devising Theatre

    June 25-30, 2023

    Want a week of playing games, building community, and creating interesting, unique, and hilarious scenes?! The Improvising and Devising Theatre Academy is the place for you! Grounded in the Michael Chekhov Technique of acting, this week will entail exercises building skills in acting and improvising using what Chekhov terms “creative individuality.” Students will accrue skills through improvisation games, guided explorations, and exercises in telling stories through acting. These skills will be supplemented by engaging critical and creative thinking in text analysis to foster growth in understanding narrative and plot structure.

    Thanks to the Theatre program at Saint Francis University for their support of this academy.



    Lance Mekeel Profile Image

    Dr. Lance Mekeel

    Lance Mekeel is an Assistant Professor of Theatre, with a PhD from Bowling Green State University. He is a Certified Teacher of the Michael Chekhov Technique through the National Michael Chekhov Association. His approach to theatre uses improvisation and story adaptation to create a supportive environment in which to build skills in critical, creative, and empathic thinking.

  • Pre-Med Academy

    June 25-30, 2023

    If you are interested in the healthcare field, then consider participating in this one week academy to gain a better understanding of the human body. During this academy, you will participate in the simulation of testing for an infectious disease, gain a greater degree of knowledge of your five senses, get hands-on experience with genetic testing, metabolic diseases, and cancer care. You will also learn blood typing, blood pressure regulation, cellular and physiological stressors. Importantly, the academy will discuss best practices for gaining admission into medical school and other healthcare programs.

    Thanks to UPMC for helping to fund this academy.



    Dr. Irene Wolf

    Dr. Irene Wolf

    Dr. Wolf is an instructor for vertebrate physiology, anatomy and physiology, and advanced molecular biology. She has an active research lab examining the effects of metformin and dexamethasone on cervical cancer cells. Outside the biology department, Dr. Wolf serves as the Honors Program Director. In her spare time you can find her running, camping, and spending time with her family and numerous pets.

  • Computer Science and Cybersecurity Boot Camp

    July 9-14, 2023

    The Computer Science and Cybersecurity Boot Camp will put you right in the middle of the fastest growing and most important industry (we're biased).  You'll learn what it takes to protect critical government or healthcare data, what to do when enemy countries attack our cyber infrastructure, and even conduct a hands-on digital forensic investigation.  At the end of the camp you'll put your new skills to the test as you compete in a Capture the Flag (CTF) contest against your fellow classmates.

    Thanks to support from the Saint Francis University Joseph and Marguerite DiSepio Chair in Computer Science Endowment for this academy.




    Kevin Slonka Profile Image

    Dr. Kevin Slonka


    Dr. Slonka is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science & Cybersecurity.  He has been in higher ed. since 2007 and has worked in industry since 1999.  He consults with a local technology company where he is in charge of cyber security.  Dr. Slonka has various certifications, the most important being the Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), a certification for penetration testing (hacking).


    Michael Zambotti

    Mr. Michael Zambotti


    Michael is an Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity at St. Francis University. He earned his BS in Finance from Penn State University and Master's in Cybersecurity from Utica College.  Michael also works as an Adjunct Professor at Utica College. In addition to teaching, Michael is a Client CIO for Miles Technologies in Southern New Jersey. His goal is to identify solutions to technical and security challenges that companies may be experiencing. Michael has a passion for cybersecurity and is always ready for a conversation about the field. His specific interests in cybersecurity are Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and privacy related issues.

  • Design of a Lunar Base

    July 9-14, 2023

    How do you do a lunar base?  With the success of the recent Artemis mission, the United States appears to be on its way to returning to the moon with the intent of a more permanent presence. How do we get there? Once there, how do we create shelter? How do we get electricity or water or food? How do we become self-sufficient? A lot of “hows” need to be answered. What we will learn about during our 5 days together is how these “hows” can be answered! Each day we will learn about a how, and then design a solution to the how. By the end of the week we may be able to answer the “how” asked by the academy title.

    To do this, we will use the Kerbal space game to define a world (our world for the week), and by playing this game we will learn the design process required to establish our base. We will then apply the physics of our own world to see how our base might actually take shape. We will make devices, fire rockets, and fabricate materials along the way. We welcome you to our adventure!

    Thanks to funding from Gwin, Dobson, and Foreman Consulting Engineers for this academy.



    Dr. Tim Miller

    Dr. Timothy Miller
  • Environmental Science and Engineering Academy: Water Reclamation

    Water is life. Without it, life on earth would not exist as we know it.  According to the 2022 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals report, the world's water related ecosystems are being degraded at an alarming rate. By 2030, over 1.6 billion people in the world will lack access to clean drinking water and over 2.8 billion people will not have access to facilities that safely handle their wastewater. This is such a big problem that the National Academy of Engineering has also identified access to clean drinking water as one of their 14 game changing goals for improving life on earth in the 21st century. In this academy, students will learn how environmental scientists and engineers can use math, science and technology to protect and restore water resources. Along the way, students will learn about careers in water reclamation and how use math and science to help solve a local water pollution challenge.

    Thanks to funding from the Woodard and Curran Foundation, we can offer this academy for just $150.



    Dr. Travis Tasker
    Dr. Travis Tasker

    Dr. Travis Tasker grew up in Butler, PA. He received his dual B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science from Allegheny College in 2013 and continued his education at the Pennsylvania State University where he received his M.S. and Ph.D. in environmental engineering. His research interests are in tracing the environmental and human health impacts of anthropogenic activities (i.e., hydraulic fracturing, mining, etc) in addition to developing novel solutions for water and wastewater treatment. He also enjoys interacting with students through teaching, research, and mentoring. Outside of Saint Francis, he spends his time outdoors hiking, camping, fishing, and playing soccer.

Application Process

  1. To apply for the program, please write a single paragraph explaining your interest: why would you like to participate in the summer academy at Saint Francis University?
  2. High school transcript (unofficial transcripts will be accepted - you may upload yourself, or submit your school's email to upload)
  3. Teacher recommendation letter (you will enter your teacher's email in the application and they will receive an email from us with the request)
  4. Non-refundable application fee of $25 is required (to complete your application)

Registration is now closed

Contact Us

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the academic value that students receive?

    Selected students will be provided with room and board, all course supplies and materials (up to a $2,000 value). Students with an interest in pursuing a career in the sciences or technical fields are encouraged to apply.

  • How are students introduced to the college experience?

    Academy participants will live in a college residence hall with SFU Student Mentors. The mentors are selected based on their expertise in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and their maturity and experience mentoring younger students. SFU Student Mentors will mentor the participants in and out of the classroom to support the goals of the summer academies and to provide the students with an excellent experience.

  • The Application Process - Who is eligible to apply to Saint Francis University Summer STEAM Academies?

    We accept applications from rising juniors and seniors (currently sophomores or juniors that will be juniors or seniors the school year following the summer academy) in high school who are in good academic standing and are interested in the sciences, engineering, technical, or mathematical fields.

  • The Application Process - When is the application deadline?

    All completed applications must be submitted no later than April 15, 2023 at

  • The Acceptance Process - When will applicants hear about their application status?

    Summer STEAM Academy applicants will receive notice via email of their application status by May 13, 2023.

  • The Acceptance Process - What if a student is notified that they are on the waiting list?

    Students are accepted into the Summer STEAM Academies based upon the materials in their application packet (application form, letter of recommendation, transcript, etc.). After reviewing the applications, the selection committee ranks the students who qualify for acceptance into the program. Those students are then assigned a slot in the program by their ranking until the maximum number has been reached. If a student who was assigned to the program does not complete their acceptance documents and submit the balance due by the due date provided, they decline their position and their slot is then offered to the next person on the waiting list.

  • The Acceptance Process - What are the acceptance packets and why are they important?

    Once a student is accepted into one of the Summer STEAM Academies they will be notified via email by June 5, 2023. Followed by an acceptance packet via email, the student will be provided with further instructions on completing the necessary forms and submitting them by the due date provided. Failing to return the completed forms along with the balance due by the due date will result in the student declining their acceptance into the program. The student's slot will then be given to the next student on the waiting list. Students who have not completed and returned their forms and balance due will not be permitted to enter or stay in Saint Francis University housing or attend any aspect of the academy.

  • The Acceptance Process - What is the deadline to return the acceptance packet?

    Acceptance packets (including all completed forms and payment of balance due) MUST be received by June 5, 2023. Failing to return the acceptance packet will result in the student declining their acceptance into the program. The student's slot will then be given to the next student on the waiting list.

  • Preparing for Saint Francis University - Is a laptop computer required?

    No.  Summer STEAM Academy students will be provided with a laptop to use during their participation in the program.  The laptop will be set up for each student to use with all of the software needed while attending the academy.

  • Preparing for Saint Francis University - Is there a dress code?

    Jeans, shorts and tee-shirts can be worn for most of the program instruction and activities.  Long pants, shirts with sleeves, and closed-toe shoes will be required for labs. The Summer STEAM Academies require that students pack closed-toe shoes and pants they do not mind getting wet or dirty.

  • Preparing for Saint Francis University - Will students need to purchase books?

    All course materials and supplies are included in the program fee.  The student will not be required to purchase books or course materials while they are participating in the Summer STEAM Academy.

  • Preparing for Saint Francis University - Do students need to have spending money?

    Summer STEAM Academy students may want to bring some spending money with them.  The campus bookstore will be open and available for students to purchase items.  There are also snack and soda machines around campus that students may want to purchase from. 


    Occasionally the group will agree to take a recreational field trip to a local park or sporting event.

  • Do students need to bring their own bedding?

    Yes, students do need to bring their own linens.

  • Are residence halls air-conditioned?

    No, the residence halls are not air-conditioned. It is recommended that Summer STEAM Academy students bring a fan.

  • Preparing for Saint Francis University - Do students need to bring food?

    Summer STEAM Academy students may want to bring snacks, though breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided.  The mentors will have a small amount of snacks for the students to enjoy throughout the week.  Students may bring their own snacks.

  • Do the dorms have refrigerators?

    The dorm rooms do not have refrigerators. The residence hall does have a refrigerator accessible to everyone.

  • Preparing for Saint Francis University - What if a student has an allergy or needs to take a certain medication?

    List all allergies of the student and any medication they take on the Medical and Emergency Contact form included in the acceptance packet.  The student will be responsible for securing and taking their medication during their participation in the Summer STEAM Academy.

  • Preparing for Saint Francis University - What time is check-in/check-out?

    Summer STEAM Academy students are to arrive on campus the Sunday of the start of the program between 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm. A short informational session about the program with instructor, mentors, and student introductions will take place around 4:00 pm with light refreshments. Students will be able to settle into their dorm room and return to the check-in area before 4:00 pm. The Summer STEAM Academy students will have pizza provided to them later that evening. Check out/Farewell will take place on the last day of the academy at 2:00 pm where families are invited to celebrate student's accomplishments in the academy. Students will give a brief presentation on their projects for the week. Detailed information will be provided in the acceptance packet.

  • Preparing for Saint Francis University - What is the extent of supervision that students receive?

    All students are closely supervised by their assigned Summer STEAM Academy Mentor. Mentors live in the residence halls with the high school students, arrange evening activities, help the students find their way around campus, and assist the academy instructors. A non-undergraduate adult is also in the residence hall between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.

  • While on Campus - Are students permitted to commute to campus or stay overnight off-campus with family or friends?

    No. Summer STEAM Academy students are required to live on campus and in the designated residence hall. Housing is required for all participating students and is included in the program fee. Students are required to stay on campus during the entirety of the program as they will be participating in group activities or working on group projects and/or evening assignments. Requests for students to leave campus to participate in other activities will be denied.

  • Will students have access to a fitness facility or pool on campus?

    The fitness facility and pool will not be accessible to the students. The Summer STEAM Academy students have a full schedule that begins with breakfast at 8:00 a.m. and continues into the evening hours. The students will be required to work on group projects or after class assignments most evenings. The Mentors will also have group activities planned in the evening hours.

  • Preparing for Saint Francis University - Can I earn a scholarship?

    At completion of the academy, participants are eligible for a $4,000 Scholarship ($1,000/year over 4 years) if enrolling as a full time SFU student within 28 months of high school graduation.

  • Preparing for Saint Francis University - Can I earn more than one scholarship?

    No, only one scholarship per student will be awarded at the completion of the academy. If you attend academies two years in a row, you are still only eligible for one scholarship.

  • Preparing for Saint Francis University - How can I stay in touch with the instructors, other students, and Saint Francis University?

    There are a variety of ways to reconnect with everyone involved in the program including Facebook, email, and the Saint Francis University website.  Like the following pages of interest on Facebook: