High School Youth Researcher Summer Program (HYRS)


The Alberta Innovates High School Youth Researcher Summer Program (HYRS) offers paid, six week summer research experiences for Grade 11 students in health and medical sciences, including priority areas in digital health, data-enabled health transformation, and health innovation. The objectives of the HYRS program are to: 

  1. Encourage HYRS participants to pursue high impact careers in health research & innovation
  2. Introduce students to cross-disciplinary research & innovation in emerging technology areas
  3. Build a network of highly-talented individuals that can advocate on behalf of the research & innovation ecosystem in Alberta.

Students who are selected to participate in the HYRS program are placed with UAlberta researchers in a variety of health and medical research areas, including cardiology, cell biology, genetics, biomedical engineering, epidemiology, health education, digital health, and other priority areas identified by Alberta Innovates. In addition to gaining first-hand research experience, students also participate in a range of skill development and career exploration activities. This program is ideal for students who have an interest in science and health, and are looking to explore careers in health research and innovation.  

Alberta Innovates Priority Areas

Alberta Innovates routinely adjusts the HYRS program guidelines to increase emphasis on capacity development in areas of strategic relevance to the province. As a condition of our funding from Alberta Innovates, 25% of HYRS placements will align with one or more of these priority areas: Digital Health, Data Enabled Health Transformation, and Health Innovation and Technology Acceleration. Please see the definitions below.

Digital Health – the convergence of digital and emerging technologies with health, healthcare, living, and society. It has the potential to enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery through personalizing medicine, enabling better access to care and empowering citizens to manage their own health.

Data Enabled Health Transformation - the creation, amalgamation, analysis, and application of large quantities of complex information to improve health /or healthcare decision-making. Examples include: data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence platforms.

Health Innovation and Technology Acceleration - while not all discoveries have a clear path to adoption and use, research can be approached in ways that increase the potential for uptake, such as by considering marketplace need, industry pull, technology partnerships, scale-up requirements, and the types of evidence needed to mobilize support for further development. Increasing the availability of talent that can accelerate the development of innovations - particularly related to the Internet of Medical Things, xR, wearables, personalized health, and health economics – is of high priority.

The HYRS program at UAlberta is administered by the Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI), and accepts applications from students residing north of Red Deer only. Applicants residing south of Red Deer should apply to the HYRS program at the University of Calgary or University of Lethbridge, as appropriate. 

Program Information 

The 2022 program will run, in person, from July 4 to August 12, 2022. Dates for the 2023 program are yet to be confirmed, but will be a similar timeframe.  

Students accepted to the HYRS program will be paid a stipend of $2700 for 6 weeks. Additional costs, including health benefits, travel and living accommodations, are the responsibility of the student. A limited number of partially-subsidized residence spaces will be available for students who reside outside of the greater Edmonton area.


To be eligible to apply for the HYRS program at the University of Alberta, students must:

  • Be currently enrolled in Grade 11, and must have completed, or be currently enrolled in Mathematics 20-1 or 20-1, Biology 20, and one other Grade 11 science course  
  • Reside north of Red Deer  
  • Be legally eligible to work in Canada
  • Demonstrate an interest in health/medical sciences, and an open-mind toward exploring careers in health research and innovation. 

Students must normally have a combined average of 85% in Mathematics 20-1 or 20-2, Biology 20, and one other Grade 11 science course. High school grades are not considered beyond the 85% threshold. Students who do not meet the 85% threshold may be considered for the HYRS program if there is a strong justification on the basis of equity or program accessibility (e.g. limitations on 20-level science course offerings, or other extenuating circumstances).  

HYRS encourages applications from members of groups with historical and/or current barriers to equity, including, but not limited to, First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, and all other Indigenous peoples; members of groups that commonly experience discrimination due to race, ancestry, colour, religion and/or spiritual beliefs, or place of origin; persons with disabilities; persons who identify as women; and persons of marginalized sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. We recognize that many of these identities intersect and that therefore, equity, diversity and inclusion can be complex. We value the contributions that each person brings, and are committed to ensuring full and equitable participation for all in our community.

Application Process

Applications for the 2022 program are now closed and all positions have been filled. 

Applications for the 2023 program will be available beginning in February 2023.

The HYRS application consists of several parts: 

  • An online student application (Google Form). The Google Form will ask for you to upload your high school transcript (Detailed Academic Record or official, stamped school progress report), and submit a personal essay, which can be written (max. 500 words), audio, or video (max. 3 min). The form will also collect information about your interests and other information to help match students with suitable placements.  

  • TWO references from science/math teachers, to be submitted directly by the teachers via the Teacher Reference Google Form. 

  • ONE community reference (e.g. employer, supervisor, coach, etc.) to be submitted directly by the reference via the Community Reference Google Form. 


Additional information for applicants

Available Placements
The HYRS program has a limited number of available placements each year, which can vary depending on the amount of funding available and the capacity of researchers to host students in their labs. Typically, the HYRS program can accommodate 25-30 students each summer. As the HYRS program receives many more applications than available placements each year, it is not possible to place every student, even if applicants are highly qualified. 
School Representation
The HYRS program will accept up to a maximum of 2 students from the same high school in a given summer. 
Grade Requirements

The 85% threshold for math/science grades helps to ensure that students are well-prepared for their lab placement. Grades are not considered in the selection process beyond the 85% threshold. 

Students who do not meet the 85% threshold may be considered for the HYRS program if there is a strong justification on the basis of equity or program accessibility (e.g. limitations on 20-level science course offerings, or other extenuating circumstances). Students should provide justification for consideration of grades below 85% in their application. There is also an opportunity for teacher references to provide justification for consideration below the 85% threshold.


Applicants must be willing to fully commit to the entire six weeks of the program (e.g. no holidays or conflicting commitments). 

Personal Essay

The HYRS student application asks for students to submit a personal essay in response to the following prompts. The essay can be written (max 500 words), video (.mp4) or audio/podcast (.mp3) no longer than 3 minutes in length.  Please ensure that you upload the appropriate media file to the Google Form to ensure that we can open it.  

In your personal response, please address all THREE questions/prompts given below. Your response can draw on both your lived experiences and your educational experiences. Outside research/sources (e.g. a bibliography) is NOT required.  

  • Using examples from your experience, please describe why you are interested in science and human health, and your motivation for applying for the HYRS program. 
  • What do you hope to gain by participating in this program?
  • Research aims to address questions or problems whose answers are unknown. How do you deal with uncertainty or feeling "stuck"?

Applicants are responsible for providing the appropriate Google Form links (available at www.uab.ca/hyrs) to their teacher and community references.  Each applicant is required to have TWO references from math/science teachers who have taught them, and ONE reference from a community member who can speak to the student’s personal attributes and ability to successfully complete the HYRS program. Community references can be from an employer or supervisor, coach, mentor or other community member who knows the applicant in a non-academic capacity.  Family members may NOT provide references. 

If you have any questions about the HYRS program or the application process, please contact us at hyrs@ualberta.ca.
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Q: The application says I need 20-level math, biology & one other 20-level science course. I have taken 30-level math & science courses. Can I include them in my application? 
    A: Yes. Biology-20, Math 20-1 or 20-2, and one other Grade 11 science course are the minimum requirements to apply.
  • Q: Are the student & reference forms automatically linked? Does it matter who submits their form first?
    A: The student application and reference forms function independently. You can submit the forms in any order. The HYRS team will link the reference responses to your application after the deadline.
  • Q: I don't have final grades for the courses I'm currently taking. What should I do? 
    A: Include any interim grades for those courses, if they are available. Be clear in the application that these courses are in-progress. 
  • Q: What if my grade 11 math/science teachers can't be my reference, or I've taken more advanced courses (e.g. Math-30 or a 30-level science course)? Can my 30-level math/science teachers write a reference?
    A: Yes. We prefer to have references from math or science teachers who have taught you recently (or are currently teaching you) in courses relevant to the HYRS application.
  • Q: Does the HYRS program accept out-of-province students?
    A: No. The HYRS program at the University of Alberta will only consider applications from students who reside in Alberta, specifically in or north of Red Deer.
If you have any additional questions about the HYRS program or the application process, please contact us at hyrs@ualberta.ca.