Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) Awards support 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).
To be eligible to apply for a SURF Award for summer 2017, students must:
- Currently be pursuing a bachelor’s degree at UConn, and plan to graduate with that bachelor’s degree no earlier than December 2017. This includes students pursuing Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of General Studies, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Science in Engineering degrees.
- 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 2017 or April 2018.
- 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.)
The 2017 SURF Application will open December 1, 2016. All application materials must be submitted by January 30, 2017.
Please ensure that you have all of your responses and documents prepared for upload before initiating your application. The display logic of the application may prevent you from going back to modify prior responses, so we recommend that you refer to the application outline to prepare all necessary responses in advance.
Students selected for SURF awards must submit a summary report of research activities to the OUR (online) by August 31, 2017.
How to Apply
The 2017 SURF Application will open December 1, 2016. All application materials must be submitted by January 30, 2017.
Please ensure that you have all of your responses and documents prepared for upload before initiating your application. The display logic of the application may prevent you from going back to modify prior responses, so we recommend that you refer to the application outline to prepare all necessary responses in advance. Please note that character limits include spaces.
Application Process: 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. Note that if you are proposing international travel as part of your SURF project, you must complete the Supplemental Questions – International Travel form and upload it as part of your SURF application; more information is available here.
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!
Please be aware that the final question on the application will ask you to certify that you have prepared your application materials in accordance with University standards for academic integrity. Learn more about academic integrity.
If you have questions about the SURF award program or the application process, contact the Office of Undergraduate Research at (860) 486-7939, email@example.com, or schedule an appointment with an OUR Advisor via AdvApp.uconn.edu under “Enrichment Programs.”
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. Faculty 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 project. Is this a project that was created by the student and you are serving as an advisor? Or is this a component of a larger project that is part of your ongoing research/creative activity? In the latter case, the committee seeks evidence that the student has contributed to the design and development of the component serving as the SURF project.
- Your evaluation of the student’s academic and personal traits which would contribute to a successful SURF experience.
- 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.
- Your plan for supervision and mentorship of the student, including your ability and availability to commit to advising this student throughout the project. If you will be working in a different location from this student, please address your plan for communicating with and supervising this student from a distance.
Faculty members writing the second letter of recommendation for students, please address the following items in your letters of recommendation for SURF applicants:
- For how long and in what context(s) you have known the student, as well as your knowledge of and familiarity with 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 his/her field.
- Your estimation of the student’s personal characteristics that would contribute to a successful SURF experience.
- Your assessment 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 11:59 p.m. on Monday, January 30, 2017.
Completed letters of recommendation should be submitted electronically to the Office of Undergraduate Research at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: SURF Recommendation – Applicant’s name.
Any questions or concerns about recommendations should be emailed to email@example.com. You may also contact OUR by calling 860-486-7939 – we are happy to answer any questions you might have!
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.
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.
The review committee uses the Rubric for SURF Applications to assess proposed projects. Applicants are encouraged to review the rubric as they draft and revise their application materials to ensure that they meet the criteria associated with strong proposals.
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 grounded in the research of the field.
- The proposal delineates the student’s central role in project activities.
- The proposal identifies specific products or outcomes (e.g., presentation, publication, exhibition) anticipated to result from the project.
- 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 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:
- Letters strongly support the project, as well as indicate support for the quality of the student.
- Letters provide a positive assessment of the student’s ability to undertake the project in the time period specified in the proposal.
- Letters provide a positive assessment of the significance of the project and its potential educational value for the student.
- The faculty advisor’s letter connects the student’s project with the faculty member’s own research or areas of expertise.
- The faculty advisor’s letter outlines a mentorship plan and indicates that the student will be advised throughout the project period.
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.
You may not receive a SURF award and a UConn IDEA Grant concurrently. If you are offered and accept a Summer 2016 UConn IDEA Grant, you are expected to contact OUR in order to withdraw your Summer 2016 SURF application from consideration.
Beyond the situations described above, receipt of OUR awards does not affect your eligibility for SURF.
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 2017 that includes $500 in support for research expenses, you may only receive an additional $500 in supply support during academic year 2017-18, whether through the ISA Honors Award for Undergraduate International Studies Research 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.
No. SURF award recipients must plan to graduate no earlier than December 2017 and students graduating in December 2017 will be expected to present their projects at Fall Frontiers in October 2017.
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.
Yes, UConn Health faculty can supervise SURF projects.
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.
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.
Your faculty advisor (and 1st recommender) must be a full-time member of the UConn faculty. The preference of the review committee is for both letters to come from faculty members. If you feel that a non-faculty recommender is better able to speak to the topics to be addressed in the second recommendation letter (see the Information Sheet for Faculty Recommenders for more detail), you may elect to ask that person to submit a letter on your behalf, but please be aware that this might be a point of concern for reviewers.
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.
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.
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.