Call for Undergraduate Research Applications 2020

The SURF Reporting Form can be downloaded here.

The Division of Research Development (RD) in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) seeks applications for UM Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences (UM-SURE) in two tracks (UM-SURF and UM-SURGG), as well as for Undergraduate Research Travel Grants.

Note: This RFP was updated 3/13/2020 to provide additional guidance and instructions related to COVID-19 considerations. Track-1 SURF and Track-2 SURGG applications should each include two scenarios. Scenario A should be a plan for a primarily or partially on-campus student experience, with social distancing. Scenario B should be a plan for a primarily or exclusively remote/off-campus experience. Due dates have been moved back to 3/23/2020 to provide time for making these adjustments.

Track-3 (UGR Travel) applications will not be accepted, nor awards given, at this time.


Track-1: Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (UM-SURF)


This track is for applications from undergraduate students to conduct mentored research or creative scholarship projects on the Oxford campus in Summer 2020. Applications are sought from currently enrolled UM freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and not-yet-graduating seniors from a broad range of backgrounds, disciplines, and program affiliations.


Competitive applications will propose an experience in which the student makes a substantial independent contribution, and that will produce a significant finished product for the student by December 2020—for instance, authorship on a publishable manuscript, or the production or presentation of a creative work.


SURF Fellows will conduct projects during a 10-week experience from May 26 to July 31, 2020, for which they will receive a taxable $3,000 participation stipend payable in five or six semi-monthly installments throughout the 10 weeks.[1]  UM Faculty Mentors on 9-month contracts without other summer support may also receive a $1,000 mentorship stipend, if budgeted. Applications may request up to $500 to cover additional expenses required to complete the project. Thus, the max budget for each application is $4,500: $3,000 + $1,000 + $500.


SURF Applications should be developed and submitted by students in close consultation with their prospective faculty mentors, and must include:

·      Student Name, E-mail Address, Phone Number, current Classification, Program

·      Faculty Mentor Name, Department, and E-mail.

·      Departmental Chair Name and E-mail.

·      Project Name

·      Project Description (max 2,000 words). Describe the scholarly project and the activities in which the student will be engaged to carry out the project. Please give both a Scenario A (primarily or partially on-campus experience, with social distancing) and a Scenario B (primarily or exclusively remote experience). If the summer project is related to a larger piece of work such as a senior thesis, the description should address the role of the summer component in the larger project.

·      Role of the Project in contributing to the student’s broader academic or professional goals, as well as in expanding and diversifying undergraduate research and creative scholarship at UM.

·      Timeline for completion of the summer project and the anticipated final product (e.g., publishable manuscript, conference presentation, creative piece or performance, etc.).

·      Budget. A concise description of each anticipated project costs, and why each is needed.


Upon submission of the application by the student, the faculty/mentor will receive an e-mail prompt to fill out and submit, within one week, a confidential endorsement form via the portal. The endorsement form, downloadable from here (PDF) or here (.docx), will require:

·      A brief description of the scholarly project and both the mentor’s and the student’s roles in designing the project and in carrying it out.

·      An assessment of the student’s ability to complete the work.

·      A description of the nature of the mentoring relationship planned for the student during the funded period, including both Scenario A (primarily or partially on-campus experience), and Scenario B (primarily or exclusively off-campus experience). If the mentor is already supervising the student, the endorsement should include a description of the mentoring activities to date, and plans to develop or continue these activities during the funded period.

·      A description of the final product of the scholarly activity (e.g., publishable manuscript, research presentation, creative piece or performance).

·      A comment on the expense budget—including a confirmation that the project can be completed within the 10-week timeframe with the estimated budget.


SURF proposals will be evaluated by UM faculty volunteers recruited by ORSP, and scored based on the quality of the written proposal, the clarity of the plan/achievability of results, the student’s expected independent contribution, the strength of the faculty/mentor’s endorsement; the extent to which the project will contribute to the program goal of expanding undergraduate participation in research and creative scholarship; and the potential viability of the project as a primarily or exclusively off-campus experience. Funding decisions will be made based on the application scores, the diversity of disciplines represented, and the availability of funding. We anticipate funding up to five Track 1 awards in 2020.


Updated Section: Students should propose projects that will require a full-time (typically 8 hours/day) effort for the full 10-week program period (excluding weekends and university holidays). SURF Fellows and their Mentors should be in regular contact for guidance and duration during the project period. Given the uncertainty about what the University guidance will be this summer with regard to students being physically present for classes, or instruction being online, applications should anticipate and provide plans for two possible scenarios: A) an primarily or partially on-campus experience, or B) a primarily or exclusively remote experience.


Each SURF Fellow may also have the opportunity to participate (in-person or virtually) with other SURF Fellows in some UM-SURE programmatic activities (e.g., training sessions, networking sessions) to be scheduled during the summer. All SURF Fellows are required to give a presentation (in-person or virtually) on their project at the UM Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium on July 31, 2020.  At the conclusion of the fellowship, each SURF Fellow will complete the Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences assessment (DOI: 10.1187/cbe.07–06–0039), and submit an initial program report by August 31, 2020, a subsequent program report by January 31, 2021, and a final program report by March 30, 2021. In addition, SURF Fellows may be asked to participate in other on-campus or virtual research symposia, and/or news releases about the program or their individual projects.


Track-2: Summer Undergraduate Research Group Grants (UM-SURGG)


The Summer Undergraduate Research Group Grant (SURGG) will support a team of faculty members to offer intensive 10-week summer research or creative scholarship experiences under a common theme for a cohort of between two and five undergraduate students. Diverse teams of faculty from different disciplines are encouraged to apply.


The goal is to prepare faculty collaborators to submit competitive external funding proposals for undergraduate research activities by designing and conducting a pilot program. Applicants must identify a target external funding opportunity for a program that includes a substantial undergraduate research component, and submit a proposal within 12 months of the UM funded SURGG project.


Winning teams will recruit UM undergraduate participants into the program as SURGG Fellows. It is strongly recommended that each program begin May 27, 2020, and end July 31, 2020. All undergraduate participants will receive a $3000 stipend for the 10-week experience.[2] Proposal budgets may also include an additional $1,000 per faculty mentor (9-month academic appointees only), and an expense budget of up to $500 per anticipated student (or $2,500 maximum), detailed by expected expense, amount, and justification. Thus, the maximum proposal budget for program with 5 anticipated students and 5 anticipated mentors would be $22,500: 5x$3,000 + 5x$1,000 + 5x$500.


Track-2 Applications must include:

·      Project Director: Name, E-mail, Title, and Department

·      Faculty Mentors: Names, E-mails, Titles, and Departments

·      Student Participants (identified so far, if any): Names, E-mails, Programs, and Classifications

·      Targeted External Funding Opportunity for (or including) undergraduate research

·      Proposal Narrative (2-page limit): include statement of importance, background, hypotheses, methodology and continued research plans.

·      Mentorship Plan (2-page limit): detail specific ways in which undergraduates will be actively mentored under two scenarios, with special attention given to student learning outcomes and scholarly products resulting from the research experiences of the students.

o   Scenario A: Primarily or Partially On-Campus Experience. Include plans for ensuring social distancing, and describe what parts of the experience would be conducted by the students in-person/on-campus vs. remotely, as well as the mentoring approach for each.

o   Scenario B: Primarily or Exclusively Off-Campus Experience. Include plans to ensure meaningful progress can be made by the students while not physically present, any alternative approaches, and how mentoring would work at a distance.

·      Team Rationale (1/2-page limit): describe how individuals will work together to provide a unified collaborative research environment within a cohesive theme).

·      Program Timeline (1/2-page limit): show the timeline for program development, recruiting and selection, execution, and follow-up (including scholarly product creation)

·      External Funding Plan (1/2-page limit): show the plan and timeline for leveraging this award into an external funding submission, with an emphasis on how to sustain and expand the program.

·      Budget (1-page limit): detail all expected costs, including student stipends, mentor stipends, and other expenses, with a brief narrative justifying each cost.


SURGG proposals will be evaluated by faculty volunteers recruited by ORSP Research Development and scored based on conceptual clarity, level of feasible involvement of undergraduates in the research plan in both on-campus and remote configurations, potential for continued student involvement, and especially potential to sustain and expand the program through competitive external funding. Funding decisions will be made based on the application scores and the availability of funding. In the 2018 competition, two Track 2 proposals were funded from among five applications received. In 2019, one Track 2 proposal was funded from among two applications (50%). We anticipate making up to one Track 2 award in 2020.


Once awarded, faculty teams may solicit student applications and select student participants. The program should be conducted over 10 weeks in the summer as proposed. All SURGG Fellows will be required to give an in-person or virtual presentation on their project at the UM Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium on July 31, 2020. The awarded investigators will be required to submit a final report within one month of project completion. All student participants (SURGG Fellows) will complete the Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences assessment. (DOI: 10.1187/cbe.07–06–0039).



Application Instructions


All applications must be submitted via the Ole Miss InfoReady Review Portal.[3]

Questions about the program or application process should be e-mailed to, and addressed to Jason Hale or Sarah Krueger.  Check UM Today for updates.


Track 3: Undergraduate Travel Grants


Undergraduates may request up to $500[4] in funding to defray travel costs associated with presenting the products of their original research or creative scholarship at regional or national conferences. These travel grants are designed to provide undergraduate students with the valuable opportunity to present their research and scholarship and more fully integrate with the community of scholars in their field. We anticipate awarding 15 undergraduate travel grants in 2020. Award decisions will be made within two weeks of application. In order to ensure the broadest possible participation, a maximum of one award will be provided per undergraduate degree program in 2020. Where multiple students are co-presenting the same paper, or are presenting different papers at the same conference, they may submit a combined application for up to $1,000 to be split among the presenting students.


The Track 3 Undergraduate Travel Application should be submitted by the student and include:

·      Student Name, Program, Classification, and E-mail Address, and Phone Number.

·      Name and E-mail Address of UM Research Advisor/Mentor

·      Name and E-mail Address of the Chair of the student’s home department. Students with undeclared majors can instead provide the Chair of the department of their mentor.

·      Name and E-mail Address of Departmental Point of Contact—the person to advise student on navigating the UM travel authorization & reimbursement process and/or manage the student’s grand funds. This may or may not be Research Advisor/Mentor.

·      Title of Accepted Paper

·      Conference or Meeting to attend

·      Presentation Abstract, in laymen’s terms, suitable for sharing with general audiences.

·      Full Citation Information of accepted paper (if known)

·      Date of Presentation

·      Confirmation of Acceptance of paper(s) for presentation at a research conference.

·      A detailed Travel Budget and Schedule

·      Evidence of Co-funding from other sources, if necessary, to cover any costs over the requested grant amount.

·      High-res Student(s) Head Shot Photo, to be used in UM news or web stories. If multiple students are traveling to co-present on this research, the photo should be of the group, and need not just be a head shot.

·      Short Student(s) Bio (< 125 words per student), suitable for displaying on a public-facing web page if awarded for the grant, including home town information.


The faculty mentor, departmental point of contact (if different from mentor), and departmental chair will each receive an e-mail prompt from the InfoReady Review Portal to endorse the application before it will be considered for funding.


NOTE: During the period where UM is strongly discouraging non-essential domestic university-related travel to prevent the spread of COVID-19, no Track 3 applications will be accepted or awards given.

[1] NOTE: It is expected that most SURF Fellows will NOT be enrolled for UM course credit during either summer term. SURF Fellows who do plan to enroll for summer course credit should make an appointment with Ms. Cindy May in the UM Office of Financial Aid to discuss whether SURF participation will jeopardize their total 2019-20 aid package.

[2] NOTE: It is expected that most SURGG Fellows will NOT be enrolled for UM course credit during either summer term. SURGG Fellows who do plan to enroll for summer course credit should make an appointment with Ms. Cindy May in the UM Office of Financial Aid to discuss whether SURGG participation will jeopardize their total 2019-20 aid package.

[3] Ole Miss InfoReady Review Portal: