SURF application

The School of MCB is grateful to be able to award a number of Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURFs) to students each year thanks to the generosity of our alumni, friends, and corporate sponsors.

The fellowship offers undergraduates the opportunity to work in a laboratory with faculty, graduate students, and research staff over the course of eight to 12 weeks during the summer. Fellows will spend between 20 and 40 hours per week conducting research. They will also participate in laboratory meetings, journal clubs, and seminars. At the end of their research experience, students write a brief summary to share with faculty and sponsors. They are also encouraged to present at the MCB Undergraduate Research Symposium, held annually in the fall.

Interested students should apply for a SURF using the common application form. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Monday, February 14, 2022. No late submissions will be accepted.

MCB is dedicated to increasing the participation of underrepresented populations in research and actively encourages applications from these groups. Students currently receiving financial aid or other scholarships should be sure to check with a financial aid officer to understand how accepting a fellowship might affect other awards.

Who is eligible for a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Students may be eligible for multiple fellowships, but each student may accept only one per summer. Basic eligibility requirements are listed below, but some donor-sponsored fellowships may have additional requirements, including GPA or departmental lab specificity. Applicants will be reviewed for all fellowships for which they are eligible.

  • Must be officially declared as a Biology, MCB, or Biochemistry student for the semester immediately preceding the fellowship.
  • Must be continuing as an MCB or Biochemistry major in the fall semester following receipt of the fellowship. Students graduating in May or August 2022 are not eligible.
  • Must be conducting MCB 290 or BIOC 290 research in an approved lab during the preceding spring semester or have written approval of the faculty research advisor to participate in a summer research fellowship in their lab.
  • Student must agree to continue their research project for course credit during the following fall and, if applicable, spring semester and submit a senior thesis prior to graduation.
  • Student must be available to work in a lab a minimum of 20 hrs/week from June 13, 2022 to August 4, 2022. Depending on the project, faculty may require an earlier start date or later completion date and up to 40 hrs/week in lab. 
  • The recipient cannot accept more than one School of MCB research fellowship per summer.

How to apply for a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Your application must be completed in its entirety and submitted prior to the deadline of 5 p.m. February 14, 2022, for full consideration. All documents (excluding the P.I. nomination letter) should be saved as one single PDF before uploading. Students are responsible for ensuring that the submitted proposal conforms to all of the formatting requirements and instructions. The online submission system will NOT notify you if your application fails to conform to the formatting guidelines. As such, students are strongly encouraged to review their proposals before submitting. Applications that fail to conform to the formatting requirements and instructions will not be considered.

Please be sure to click SUBMIT to complete your application. If you simply SAVE AND FINISH LATER, we will NOT get your submission and you will NOT be eligible for any of the fellowships. You should receive an email confirmation, which includes your responses after clicking submit (check spam folders). Please save this email for your records. If you do not receive an email confirmation, then your submission did not go through and you should try again. Problems ensued after a second attempt should be reported to Tina Knox at tmknox@illinois.edu

SURF proposals will be evaluated using a rubric that incorporates the strength of the proposal, the letter of support from the faculty advisor, the student’s GPA, and the number of semesters that the applicant has been conducting research in their current laboratory. Applications that fail to follow the formatting guidelines or are incomplete, including the advisor’s letter of support will not be considered. While transdisciplinary projects are encouraged, the proposed summer research project must include the study of biological problems at a molecular and cellular level.

Students selected for a fellowship will be notified on or after March 21, 2022, but no later than April 1, 2022. Recipients will be expected to work in lab a minimum of 20 hrs/week, typically from June 13, 2022 to August 4, 2022. Depending on the project, faculty may require the work to start earlier or continue longer than the suggested dates above. Students cannot accept more than one School of MCB research fellowship per summer.

The application includes the following:

  1. One-page proposal (excluding any necessary references) of research to be conducted. The proposal should be typed using 11-point Arial font (or equivalent), single-spaced with 0.5-inch margins on all sides, and include a title/topic of research project. It should describe the overall goals and objective of the project along with the specific research that will be undertaken by the student. This document should be an original and professional document prepared by the student with input from the principal investigator (P.I.) of the laboratory.
  2. Current CV/Resume for applicant.
  3. Unofficial undergraduate transcript available from Enterprise Student Self-Service (Registration and Records/Student Records and Transcripts/View Academic History).
  4. Nomination letter from Principal Investigator (PI) supporting the applicant's research, uploaded as a PDF at the following site, by the 5 p.m., February 14 deadline.

Contact us

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    Contact Tina Knox, assistant director of advising and recruiting, with questions about Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships.