University of Connecticut

SURF: Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) Awards

Garden HarvestProgram Overview
Eligibility
Application Deadline
How to Apply
Information for Recommenders
Information for Supervisors and Mentors
Criteria for Review and Selection
FAQ


Program Overview

The UConn Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) supports University of Connecticut full-time undergraduate students in summer research or creative projects.

SURF awards are available to students in all majors at all UConn campuses. SURF project proposals are reviewed by a faculty committee representing various Schools and Colleges, and SURF award recipients are chosen through a competitive process.

The maximum total amount awarded for SURF awards is $4,000 ($3,500 stipend for the student researcher and up to $500 for consumables associated with the research project).

SURF Project Examples
Past SURF recipients have studied transcatheter aortic valves, the concept of nation in selected literature, artists’ books, and runners’ post-race thermoregulatory responses. Get inspired: read about the 2013 and 2012 SURF awardees’ projects.


Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for a SURF Award for summer 2014, students must:

  • Plan to graduate no earlier than December 2014.
  • Be supervised by a UConn faculty member. (You don’t have to work on campus, but someone at UConn must be actively engaged in the supervision of your work.)
  • Agree to present SURF-funded project findings at Frontiers in Undergraduate Research in October 2014 or April 2015.
  • Have not received a SURF award in a previous year. (Only one SURF award may be used by an undergraduate during their UConn undergraduate years.)

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Application Deadline

Applications for SURF 2014 are now closed.

Students selected for SURF must submit a summary report of research activities to the OUR (online) by August 30, 2014.


How to Apply

Your application will be submitted online and you will have the opportunity to upload a PDF document that presents your project in detail as well as a timeline and budget. Get started by reviewing our detailed information on preparing a successful application, which includes all of the information that will be collected in the online application and what you should include in your PDF proposal document, timeline, and budget.

Plan to spend time working through your proposal, budget, and timeline on your own and in conversation with your faculty advisor and other mentors. Starting early and planning ahead will make the process a lot less stressful!

SURF 2014 Applications are now closed.
The Summer 2015 Application will be available this coming Fall.

 

If you have questions about the SURF award program or the application process, contact contact the Office of Undergraduate Research at (860) 486-7939, our@uconn.edu, or schedule an appointment with an OUR Advisor via AdvApp.uconn.edu under “Enrichment Programs.”

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Information for Recommenders

The UConn Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) supports University of Connecticut full-time undergraduate students who are engaged in summer research or creative projects under the supervision of a University of Connecticut faculty member.

The strongest SURF applications are those that are written by the student with the guidance and support of the faculty advisor. While the writing of the proposal should be done by the student, the faculty advisor may offer comments and feedback on the research project proposal and references. The faculty advisor should also review the applicant’s budget and timeline for feasibility and accuracy.

Students must include two letters of recommendation from faculty members. It is the student’s responsibility to contact these individuals, discuss the final SURF proposal, and secure their willingness to complete and submit the letters of recommendation by the deadline. In 2014, recommendations will be collected electronically. The Information Sheet for Faculty Recommenders lists the topics each recommender should address and outlines the procedure for submitting letters.

Faculty advisors, please address the following items in your letters of recommendation for SURF applicants:

  • Your knowledge of and familiarity with the research or creative project;
  • Your role in the research or creative project – Is this a project that the student has created on his/her own and you will be advising? Or is this project a component of a larger project that is part of your ongoing research/creative activity?
  • Your evaluation of the student’s academic and personal traits which would contribute to a successful SURF experience;
  • Your ability and availability to supervise the student and your commitment to advise the student throughout the project. If you and the student will be working in different locations over the summer, please outline a plan for communication with the student and for supervision from a distance;
  • Your assessment of the student’s chances for success and why the student’s project proposal would be important to the field and to the student’s development as a scholar.

Faculty members writing the second letter of recommendation for students should address the following items in their letters of recommendation for SURF applicants:

  • The student’s academic qualifications for this award;
  • The quality of the student’s proposal and the contributions the student’s research or creative project might make to the field;
  • The student’s personal characteristics that would contribute to a successful SURF experience;
  • Your estimation of how this award would be important to the student’s development as a scholar.

Note: Normally, the first letter of recommendation will come from a UConn faculty member who is supervising the SURF project. Occasionally, SURF proposals will be approved for research to be done at another institution under the supervision of someone who is not a UConn faculty member. These occasional exceptions to the normal rule will only be approved if (1) the faculty member elsewhere has a close research relationship with UConn (e.g., a shared grant or a cross-institutional affiliation and (2) the project will have a secondary supervisor who is a UConn faculty member and that individual provides the second letter of recommendation.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION
Letters of recommendation should be received no later than 4 p.m. on Monday, February 3rd, 2014.

Completed letters of recommendation should be submitted electronically to the Office of Undergraduate Research at our@uconn.edu with the subject line: SURF Recommendation – Applicant’s name.

Any questions or concerns about recommendations should be emailed to our@uconn.edu. You may also contact OUR by calling 860-486-7939 – we are happy to answer any questions you might have!

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Information for Supervisors and Mentors

Effective supervision is a key factor in a successful SURF experience. Students benefit from the guidance of their mentors when they learn new techniques, encounter and seek to overcome roadblocks, work to interpret their findings, and map out next steps. We recommend that SURF recipients and their faculty supervisors discuss when and how they will communicate (e.g., in person, via Skype, via telephone, via email updates) over the course of the student’s work on the project. These advance arrangements are particularly important when the student and mentor will be working in different locations.

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Criteria for Review and Selection

All SURF applications are reviewed by a committee of faculty members representing various Schools and Colleges at UConn. Primary and secondary reviewers with expertise in the subject area of the student’s proposal are assigned to each SURF application.

Reviews and recommendations to fund SURF project proposals are made by the SURF faculty review committee. All projects are reviewed based on the following criteria:

Quality of the proposal:

  • The proposal is well written, well defined, and convincing.
  • The proposal is thorough and complete. All parts are clearly explained.
  • The proposal is manageable and appropriate for the time frame; if the research is part of a larger project that will extend beyond the summer, this is noted in the proposal and the goals for the summer are delineated in the timeline.
  • The proposal is grounded in the research of the field.
  • The student has secured or is securing IRB/IACUC approval if necessary for the research.
  • The budget is clear and uses funding appropriately according to SURF funding guidelines.

Qualifications of the applicant:

  • The qualifications, preparation, and experience of the student are adequate for carrying out the project.
  • The research experience, as described, will contribute significantly to the student’s education.
  • The academic record of the student indicates the potential for success.

Support from faculty letters of recommendation:

  • Strength of letters of support by faculty recommenders (do they strongly support the project, as well as indicate support for the quality of the student?).
  • Assessment of the student’s ability to undertake the project in the time period allowed.
  • Assessment of the significance of the project and its potential educational value for the student.
  • Evidence that relationships exist between the student’s project and the faculty mentor’s own research or areas of expertise.
  • Evidence that the student will be supervised during the project period by the faculty mentor.

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FAQ

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I have already received another award from OUR. Can I still apply for SURF?

If you have previously accepted a SURF award, you cannot apply for a second SURF award. If you were offered a SURF award and declined it, you may reapply for a SURF award. Receipt of OUR awards other than SURF does not affect your eligibility for SURF.


Does receiving a SURF award affect my eligibility for other OUR awards?

OUR policy restricts students to a maximum of $1,000 in supply awards over a single year (with the year beginning in the summer and ending with the spring semester). This means that if you receive a SURF award for summer 2014 that includes $500 in support for research expenses, you may only receive an additional $500 in supply support during academic year 2014-15, whether through the Life Sciences Honors Thesis Award or an OUR Supply Award. Beyond that restriction on supply funding, receiving a SURF award does not otherwise affect your eligibility for other OUR awards.


I’m completing my degree requirements over the summer. Can I get a SURF award?

No. SURF award recipients must plan to graduate no earlier than December 2014 and students graduating in December 2014 will be expected to present their projects at Fall Frontiers in October 2014.


I know I want to do part of my research abroad, but haven’t decided what country I want to travel to; do I need to know this before I apply?

Yes, you do. Those students proposing international travel as part of their SURF applications will need to answer additional questions about how they determined that the country (or countries) to which they intend to travel is appropriate for the project, their plans for navigating language barriers (if applicable), and intended travel and living arrangements while in country. Please see our section on International Travel for further information.


My project supervisor is based at the UConn Health Center. Does s/he qualify as a faculty supervisor?

Yes, UCHC faculty can supervise SURF projects.


I know that another student working with my advisor is also applying for a SURF Award. Does this hurt my chances? Can a single faculty member advise more than one SURF awardee?

The review committee’s evaluation of your SURF application focuses on the quality of the proposal, the strength of your qualifications, and your recommenders’ support of both you and the project. Your chances of receiving a SURF award are not affected by the number of other applicants working under the same faculty advisor. Faculty advisors may supervise more than one SURF awardee.


My recommender is unable to submit his or her letter by the application deadline – does this hurt my chances of getting a SURF Award?

Applicants are encouraged to speak with recommenders early in the process, allowing them ample time to write and submit letters of recommendation. We understand that extenuating circumstances and busy schedules can make it difficult for recommenders to submit letters by the deadline. Applicants need to make every effort to ensure letters are submitted and their application is complete by the deadline. To ensure fairness to all applicants, complete applications will receive priority consideration for funding.


Can I start my project in the spring semester and continue it into the fall semester?

Yes, your SURF project can be part of longer-term involvement in research or creative activity. In preparing your SURF application, it is important that you articulate the goals and outcomes specific to the summer portion of the larger project and build your timeline and budget to reflect the milestones and costs of your summer work.


Can I use all or part of the $500 in research expense funding to compensate participants?

Yes, participant compensation is an allowable use of research expense funding. You will need to submit a copy of the approved IRB protocol that delineates the plan for compensating participants. The amount you request must be consistent with that compensation plan and the number of participants you have indicated you expect during the period of the SURF project. It is important that you keep records and receipts, per IRB guidelines, in order to document these payments.


I have questions about SURF; is there someone I can speak with?

If you have questions about SURF or the application process, contact the Office of Undergraduate Research at our@uconn.edu or schedule an appointment via AdvApp.uconn.edu under “Enrichment Programs.”


I was not selected to receive a SURF Award. Can you tell me why?

OUR staff are available to meet with applicants to provide feedback about the strengths and weaknesses the review committee identified in their proposals. We will not provide rubrics, scores, or name the reviewers of particular proposals.

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