Part of an international collaboration between the USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health, Operation Smile and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, this annual research placement offers two scholars the opportunity to assist in researching the genetic and environmental factors in the etiology of oral clefts in children.

Selected fellows will join a research team currently recruiting families from a number of low- and middle- income countries to conduct an extensive maternal and paternal risk factor questionnaire and collect saliva samples for genetic analysis. Students will assist in maintaining and developing the research study and will be given an in-country funded travel opportunity.

Scope of Work

  • Complete Human Subjects, Good Clinical Practices and HIPAA certifications
  • Assist with questionnaire development
  • Conduct literature reviews and background research
  • Assist with data cleaning and analysis
  • Prepare research materials for international shipping
  • Maintain study documents
  • Assist development of iOS app for data collection
  • Prepare for trip
  • Travel
  • Conduct training with local in-country researchers
  • Collect data, ensuring quality control
  • Enter sample data post-trip
  • Finalize post-trip paper and/or presentation


  • Enrolled part- or full-time USC students only
  • MPH graduate students preferred, exceptional undergraduates considered. Medical students not eligible however please email for information on opportunities available for med students with Operation Smile.
  • Flexible, independently motivated, organized, reliable, detail-oriented and culturally sensitive
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Fluency in other languages preferred
  • 5-15 hours per week for both fall and spring semesters
  • Flexible scheduling and work hours
  • Special consideration given to students during university holidays, breaks and final exam periods
  • USC Health Sciences Campus – Norris Harlyne Cancer Research Tower & USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health offices at the Soto Building.
  • Please note this experience is unpaid but the funded trip will cover all costs related to travel including flight, accommodations, ground transportation, visas and related expenses.


Applications are now closed. Please check back again next year!

View past Operation Smile Fellows »


Learn more about the fellows »