Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)

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The SURF program is one of many programs administrated through OUR and designed to enhance the educational experience of undergraduates by engaging them in research opportunities. The SURF program is made possible by funding from many campus units. Please visit the SURF contributors link on this website to read more about the many contributors to this program.

Eligibility:

All currently enrolled UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduate students in good academic standing who will graduate after November 2015 and who wish to engage in undergraduate research, scholarship or performance for at least 9 weeks, with a minimum 20 hours/week, between May 13, 2015 and August 16, 2015 are eligible to apply. Students must be enrolled the semester before (spring) and the semester after (fall) completion of the SURF. The projects must be carried out under the supervision of a UNC-Chapel Hill faculty research advisor, and additional collaboration with a postdoctoral fellow or graduate student mentor is encouraged.

Students wishing to submit a proposal for an Honors Carolina SURF should follow the instructions on this page and submit their materials to the Office for Undergraduate Research. All successful SURF applicants who are in Honors Carolina will be considered for a Taylor award. Students whose projects qualify for the Pine Tree Fund SURFs should also follow the standard instructions for submission; successful applicants with appropriate projects will be considered for a Pine Tree Fund SURF. Students who are interested in being considered for the ACCIAC Summer Research Scholarship should follow the instructions below and note the requirement for a second recommendation letter; successful applicants with appropriate projects will be considered for the ACCIAC Summer Research Scholarship.

Each student may submit only ONE SURF application per year. Students who have received a SURF award in previous years are not eligible to apply. SURF recipients may not accept a Burch Fellowship or a NASA grant for the same summer.

Anticipated Number and Amount of Awards:

We expect to make at least 60 individual awards of $3,000 each. Selected students will receive $2,000 at the start of the summer, and the remainder of the award after they have submitted the required final materials and the materials are approved by OUR.

Honors Carolina expects to make at least 8 Taylor Fellowship awards of $4,000 each. Taylor Fellowship recipients will receive $3000 at the start of the summer, with the remainder awarded after the required final materials have been submitted and approved by OUR.

The Program in Sexuality Studies expects to make at least two Pine Tree Fund SURF awards of $4,000 each for work in LGBTQ studies. Pine Tree Fund SURF recipients will receive $4,000 at the start of the summer. Students are required to submit final materials.

The ACCIAC Summer Research Scholarship provides funding for one SURF award of $5,000 for a mentored research project with a faculty member from another ACC university (see the list of ACC universities here). If you are interested in this opportunity, please include a second recommendation by your proposed mentor from the partnering ACC university, in addition to a letter from your UNC faculty mentor. ACCIAC Summer Research Scholars are required to be located physically at the partnering university for the duration of the summer research. ACCIAC Summer Research Scholar recipients will receive $4,000 at the start of the summer, with the remainder awarded after the required final materials have been submitted and approved by OUR.

If a graduate student will be involved in mentoring the undergraduate, then the grad student should be encouraged to apply for the Graduate Student Mentor Award. If a postdoctoral fellow will be involved in the mentoring, then s/he should be encouraged to apply for the Postdoctoral Scholar Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduates.

Proposal Development:

You must identify a suitable and willing faculty research advisor for your work. Discuss your initial ideas with your faculty research advisor, narrow or expand the scope of your work as appropriate, and ask for feedback on your written statement from your faculty research advisor and/or a postdoctoral/graduate mentor. In addition, SURF Peer Writing Advisors will be available by appointment to assist you with the application process and with communicating your proposal more effectively. These peer advisors are former SURF students who have received training from the Writing Center. For more information, see the SURF Peer Advising Program (pdf).

To sign up to meet with a peer advisor in your area of interest, please submit the short, online SURF Peer Advisor Request Form. Note that you will need a rough draft proposal for your first meeting with your peer advisor. You may also want to look at our Proposal Writing Resources page. We will begin assigning Peer Writing Advisors in December 2014. No Peer Writing Advisors will be assigned after February 19, 2014.

Applying for a SURF

Application Materials:

There are four parts to a complete application. All parts must be received by Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 4:00 pm.

  1. The online application, which includes information about the student, faculty advisor, and the project title (100 character maximum).
  2. The written proposal must be submitted by email to our@unc.edu. Please submit your proposal in .pdf form and name it “LastNameFirstNameSURF2014Proposal,” where LastName and FirstName reflect your name. The written proposal should be 1200 words maximum, excluding items f and g, and should include the following:
    1. the goal of the work: the research question or a description of what you intend to create, invent or discover
    2. the potential significance of the project
    3. any preliminary work accomplished and/or relevant experience of the applicant
    4. the methods or theoretical/critical frameworks you will use, with appropriate citations
    5. a statement noting if IRB approval is needed or not needed. This statement is required for all proposals. For more information about the IRB requirement, please visit the IRB guide for students and faculty.
    6. a list of the references you cited in your proposal. This list is not included in the 1200 word limit.
    7. a list of all scholarships and other awards that you have received at Carolina. If you have received none to date, please say so. This list is not included in the 1200 word limit.
  3. A letter of support from the faculty research advisor who will oversee the research project. The letter of support should include your advisor’s assessment of the potential significance of your project and a review of your qualifications to carry out the project. In addition the letter should address any academic weaknesses. If your research is part of a larger project, the letter should indicate what aspect of the larger project will be set aside for your own independent research. All letters of support must include a statement noting whether or not your project requires or has IRB approval. Finally, the letter of support should be written on departmental letterhead, saved in .pdf format and named “LastNameFirstNameSURF2014Letter,” where LastName and FirstName is your name. Letters should be submitted by email to our@unc.edu. Note: Faculty advisors are encouraged to review the SURF Rubric used by the selection committee.
  4. A copy of your official UNC transcript from the Registrar’s Office. The official transcript must be delivered to Graham Memorial Room 221. Please note that the Registrar’s Office requests a minimum turn-around time of two weeks; order your transcript early.

All four parts of the application must be received by Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 4:00 p.m.

Format Requirements:
  1. Your written statement and faculty letter of support should be single-spaced.
  2. Please put the title of your application on the first page of your written statement, and include your name and PID number on each page. Please do NOT include a cover page, Appendix materials, separate CV, or budget.
  3. Please adhere to the 1200 word limit (excluding the list of references you cited and the list of any scholarships and awards you have received at Carolina).
Application Submission:

Please complete the on-line application, submit your proposal via email, and then bring your transcript to:

The Office for Undergraduate Research
c/o SURF Program
Room 221 Graham Memorial
CB # 2800

Faculty should submit letters of support via email to our@unc.edu.

The deadline for receipt of all materials is Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 4:00 p.m.

After Application

Selection Process:

A multidisciplinary faculty committee will meet to select the SURF recipients based on the written application and the faculty research advisor’s recommendation letter. The committee will assess each proposal based on the criteria described in this SURF Rubric. The committee also aims to have a balance of disciplines represented, and also a balance of students at all stages of their academic careers. Once the SURF selection committee has chosen which projects to fund, a sub-committee of the Honors Carolina Faculty Advisory Board will select the Taylor Fellowship recipients from the group of successful SURF applicants. All applicants will be notified via e-mail of the SURF selection committee’s decision by April 1.

Acceptance Checklist:

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships are paid in two installments, one at the beginning of the summer, and one at the end. In order to process your first payment, we must receive all required items listed on checklist #1.

Final Payment Checklist:

In order to process your second payment at the end of the summer, we must receive all required items listed on checklist #2.

Reporting Requirements:

At the end of the summer, each student must submit a summary statement and evaluation. In addition, each student must prepare a PowerPoint presentation for display on the OUR website. To view previous PowerPoint displays, please visit the Past Student Projects page on this website. In addition, successful applicants will be expected to participate in an undergraduate research symposium, UNC’s Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research, prior to graduation to discuss their results. Finally, successful applicants should acknowledge support from the Office for Undergraduate Research in any publications resulting from the project. Please see our guidelines for acknowledging OUR support for information on formatting acknowledgments.