What is the MCDS Summer Research Academy?

The Summer Research Academy (SRA) is a new partnership between Madison Country Day School and Edgewood College. Students will have the opportunity to engage in authentic science research, mentored by practicing scientists.

There are three goals for this intensive program:

  • Learn about a new area of scientific research from experts in the field
  • Design and carry out your own scientific investigation
  • Reflect on the process of doing science and develop research skills that will be useful throughout your academic career

Who can participate?

SRA is open to motivated science students entering grades 9-12. Priority registration will be given to MCDS families, with remaining slots open to the general public.

Space is limited! Each session will be capped at 10 students.

MCDS High School Science

When is it?

There are four different programs that students can register for. Each program is two weeks long. Two workshops will meet concurrently during the first two-week session (July 11-22) and the other two workshops meet concurrently for the second two weeks.

Each workshop meets 9 a.m.–4 p.m. each day. On the final day of the session, the students will participate in a poster session showcasing their work. Families and friends will be invited to attend.

  • Session 1: July 11-15, 2022 & July 18-22, 2022
  • Session 2: July 25-29, 2022 & Aug 1-5, 2022

How much does it cost?

The cost is $800 for each two-week session.

Scholarships are available to eligible MCDS families.

Where is it?

The Summer Research Academy will be held on the campus of Edgewood College. Students will be working in university-level science labs, where they will use specialized equipment needed to conduct research in these fields. 

Field trips will be taken during each session to visit UW-Madison research labs, MCDS science labs, and/or other field locations in the area.


Contact Rachael Lancor, PhD
Research Program Coordinator, MCDS

MCDS High School Science

Session 1: July 11-15, 2022 & July 18-22, 2022

Choose ONE of these options:

Option 1: There’s bacteria in my food!? Exploring the microbes we eat and the ways they transform our food

Microbes are often the subject of news headlines as contaminants or pathogens in our food sources. However, microbes also allow us to make a diversity of delicious and beneficial food products including yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, beer, wine, cheese, chocolate, bread, and more. In this course we will explore the various ways microbes influence and transform our food. We will learn through inquiry-based experimentation and participate in these processes ourselves in the kitchen! Let’s learn, taste, experiment, and cook!


Heidi Horn, PhD
Dr. Horn is an assistant professor in the Division of Biological Sciences at Edgewood College. She teaches microbiology, genetics, and virology and loves exploring the ways microbes influence our daily lives. In her spare time, you can find her either cooking and baking or wandering through the Wisconsin prairie with her family.

Option 2: Do zebrafish red blood cells have stripes?

Blood, this vital organ, contains quite a few types of cells, each with a very important function. How do we tell them apart? How does their number change if we are exposed to a stressor, such as an infection? Do zebrafish have the same type of blood cells and do they look the same under the microscope? We are going to explore these and many more questions in this course. We’ll learn the anatomy and histology of zebrafish and set up experiments to investigate the response of the zebrafish blood cells to various stressors.


Donika Rakacolli, PhD 
Dr. Rakacolli is a lecturer in the Division of Biological Sciences at Edgewood College. She teaches Pathophysiology and Anatomy and Physiology. Preparing and observing cells under the microscope has been her passion for a long time. Outside school, she takes care of  her orchids and loves to bike.


Session 2: July 25-29, 2022 & Aug 1-5, 2022

Choose ONE of these options:

CANCELLED: Option 1: A city is an ecosystem too! The urban ecology of Madison

“The environment” is closer than you think!  Fifty percent of humanity lives in cities, so for many of us the environment that we interact with is our own backyards, neighborhoods, and urban green spaces.  Our proximity to these places brings both rewards and challenges, and the relationship is reciprocal.  In this session we will explore the benefits we receive from our local Madison ecosystems, and the impact that our choices and activities can have on them.


Jake Griffin, PhD
Dr. Griffin is an ecologist, Associate Professor, and Division Head of Biological Sciences at Edgewood College.  In collaboration with undergraduate students, his areas of research include ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, and ecosystem services.  Active engagement with our local WI ecosystems is a major theme of his research, with programs centered on the forests of Door County as well as the urban forests of Madison.  Dr. Griffin also regularly engages in community outreach and education programs for both students and adults including the ROSE program, Family Science Night, and the Science Olympiad, and looks forward to partnering with MCDS this summer!

Michelle Kramer, MS
Ms. Kramer teaches Chemistry and Environmental Systems & Societies at Madison Country Day School. She has an undergraduate degree in chemistry and a master’s in geoscience. She’s excited to be working in the field this summer!

SOLD OUT: Option 2: Cosmic Explorers

Did you know that you are constantly bombarded with invisible particles from space? In this session, you’ll have the opportunity to study cosmic rays! We’ll look at data from the IceCube neutrino observatory (located at the South Pole) and also design our own experiments to learn more about cosmic rays. You’ll have the chance to meet scientists working on the IceCube project and visit their research labs in Madison.  Together, we’ll explore the mysterious and strange lives of subatomic particles.


Rachael Lancor, PhD
Dr. Lancor is a science teacher and the Research Program Coordinator at Madison Country Day School. Prior to coming to MCDS, she taught physics at Edgewood College and Harvard University. Her master’s project focused on cosmic rays, and she is excited to collaborate with the IceCube outreach team on this summer research program.

Rob Young, MS
Rob Young is a physics teacher at Edgewood High School.  He has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Washington University, a master’s degree in physics from the University of Wisconsin, and loves to talk astrophysics and particle physics.