With generous funding support from the CI Foundation, we are pleased to announce the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow (SURF) program.

The Summer SURF Program provides for a Spring Faculty Development Learning Community and an eight-week faculty-mentored student research collaborative during the Summer.

We will be monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic as time progresses to determine the mode (virtual or in-person) for Summer of 2021. Still, in your proposal, you should consider how you would carry out your project in a virtual setting.

Please read the entire Request for Proposals before beginning your application.


To create meaningful research (by “research” we mean research and creative activities) and professional development opportunities for students who are working on faculty-centered, faculty-mentored research projects.

Faculty benefits

  • Faculty development activities throughout the program
  • Student research assistance during the summer
  • Sustained focus on their research agenda during the Summer
  • SURF Faculty receive a $5,200 stipend for participation in both the Spring and Summer SURF program

Students benefits

  • Engaging in an intensive and meaningful research experience
  • Professional development opportunities throughout the Summer
  • Presenting their research on campus and at an appropriate conferences
  • SURF Students receive a $3,000 stipend
  • Students may be able to forgo less meaningful summer employment and focus on research

Campus benefits

  • Faculty-mentored Summer research presented during the Fall energizes students and faculty, and promotes future interest in faculty-mentored student research
  • SURF Faculty Fellows become ambassadors and mentors for other faculty interested in student research
  • CI joins the ranks of campuses that offer a Summer Research Programs [1]

Faculty Eligibility

  • All faculty (tenure-track and lecturers).
  • Previous SURF Faculty Fellows are eligible to apply.
  • Projects that involve multiple faculty members are eligible for this program. Collaborating faculty will divide the stipend. Both are required to attend and engage in faculty workshops and other SURF events.
  • Members of the selection committee and the SURF coordinators are not eligible to apply
  • The call is open with regard to discipline. The Summer SURF Program aims to reflect our campus commitment to interdisciplinarity.

Student Eligibility

Any undergraduate student who plans to return to CI in Fall 2021 is eligible to be a Summer SURFer. Seniors graduating in May 2021 are not eligible. Students must be in good academic standing.

Summer SURFers are selected by SURF Faculty Fellows directing the research project. We will publicize Faculty Fellow projects and allow for applications from any eligible student. However, the choice of Student SURFers is at the sole discretion of the Faculty Fellow.

The number of SURFers is subject to budgetary constraints - this year we anticipate funding three students per project.

Faculty Roles & Expectations

Faculty Fellows meet multiple times during the Spring Semester (see timeline, below). The focus of the SURF Faculty Fellows Learning Community is to think about creating Summer research experiences for students, discuss strategies, share advice and experiences, develop strategies for embedding meaningful research opportunities in program curriculum, building capacity for faculty-mentored student research on campus, and thinking about how to assess student research experiences.

Faculty must participate in the Spring Learning Community.

As part of the SURF program, Faculty must:

  • Attend the SURF Orientation Program (tentative date, Monday, June 7).
  • Require students to attend and actively participate in the Summer SURF Interdisciplinary Research Learning Community and Professional Development Workshops (held on Wednesdays during the summer program)
  • Work closely with students. Minimum contact is an average of 10 hours per week
  • Meet biweekly during the Summer for continuous faculty development and community building
  • Attend the SURF Summer Celebration (tentative date  -July 28)
  • Present at the CSUCI Fall Student Research Showcase (September 2021)

Note: Faculty stipends will be adjusted if a faculty member does not fulfill elements of the Faculty Fellowship (e.g. missing faculty-development workshops, Program Orientation, SURF Celebration, etc.)

Student Roles & Expectations

Students are expected to devote the majority of their effort during the Summer to their faculty-mentored research. Students should avoid additional work responsibilities that conflict with the purposes of the program.

Students must:­­­

  • Attend a virtual meeting with the Spring Faculty Learning Community
  • Attend the SURF Program Orientation (tentative date - Monday, June 7, 2021)
  • Be available Monday through Friday, June 7-July 30, to engage in their research project
  • Participate fully in the Summer Interdisciplinary Research and Professional Development Learning Community (Wednesdays)
  • Attend and present at the SURF Summer Celebration (tentative date - July 28)
  • Present their research in the CSUCI Fall Student Research Showcase (September 2020)

Faculty Application Process

The deadline for applications is Sunday, November 22, 2020 at 11:59 PM.

To apply you will need:

  • A response about the role of mentoring: "How does research mentorship fit into your support for student success, equity, and inclusive excellence at CI?" (about 300 words)
  • An abstract of the project that you are proposing. Keep in mind:
    • your abstract is the primary means of identifying the projects that will be supported
    • identify how you might carry out the project in a virtual environment
    • the selection committee is composed of an interdisciplinary group of administrators and faculty—your project description should be comprehensible to people with diverse intellectual backgrounds
    • the abstract should contain a statement about the role that student researchers will play in the project
    • the abstract cannot exceed 4000 characters (about 600 words)

Application Evaluation

Applications are evaluated based on:

  • The intellectual and/or creative merit of the proposal based as expressed in the project abstract
  • The potential for student involvement in the project as expressed in the project abstract
  • Due consideration for disciplinary representation

I’m Ready to Apply!


November 22—Faculty Applications Due

Week of November 30 —Faculty Fellows Announced

December 2020 —Faculty Agreement Deadline

January 2020 —Student Application Live

Late February 2020 — Student Applications Due

SURF Faculty Learning Community (Feb-Apr 2021)

  • Dates/times to be determined

Early March 2021 – Student Selections Complete

Late March – Student Agreement Deadline

April 10 – Student-Faculty LC Meeting

SURF Orientation - Monday, June 7 (tentative)

IRLC Dates: Wednesdays, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM (tentative)

Evaluation Plan

Evaluation of the Summer SURFer program will proceed at two levels, both with pre-post design.

  • SURF Program evaluation: The program evaluation will reflect NSF best practices for student research developed at, and documented by, Buffalo State College. The core outcome categories are: Communication, Creativity, Autonomy, Resilience, Practice and Process of Inquiry/Creative practice, Disciplinary Knowledge, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Ethical Conduct, Intellectual Development, Culture of Scholarship, Content Knowledge/Appropriate Methodologies.


What qualifies as “student research?”

We use the term research to encompass “research and creative activities.” The key components of student research involve faculty mentoring students through a meaningful, discipline-appropriate, activity intended to produce an “outcome” consistent with disciplinary standards.

I already engage in student research. Why do I have to be part of the Faculty Learning Community?

The Faculty Learning Community is not intended to “teach you how” to do student research. It is intended to share experience and knowledge among faculty participants and help us to improve our practice of student research. Already do student research? Great! We have a lot to learn from you.

I was a SURF Fellow last year. Can I apply again?


I was a SURF Fellow last year. Do I have to participate in the Learning Community?

Yes. We hope that any repeat fellows will help to mentor new SURF Fellows.

I would like to collaborate with another faculty member. Can we apply as a team?

Sure! You will share the Summer Stipend equally. Both mentors are also required to attend spring faculty learning community workshops and other SURF events.

Who chooses the SURF Faculty Fellows?

Volunteers from the Student Research Advisory Committee (SRAC). None of the reviewers are eligible to receive an award.

Who chooses the student SURFers?

We will allow all students to apply for your project. Putting out a call to all students potentially allows you to identify students who might not be in your immediate network. 

I have a student who is graduating this Spring. Can they participate in the Summer SURFer program?

No. Our various funding sources do not allow us to fund students who will not enroll at CI in the Fall.

Do participating students need to be rising Seniors?

No. In fact, choosing students who are Sophomores and Juniors allows their long-term involvement in student research. Students do need to be in good academic standing.

Who is paying for this?

Funding comes from several sources. The largest contribution is from the CI Foundation, from the sale of the University Glen apartments. 

It seems like this is costing a lot of money. Why are we spending all this money on this?

On a per-student basis, the cost of the program is similar to what the IRA Committee contributes for students engaged in UNIV 392 courses. Like UNIV 392, student research is considered a High-Impact Teaching Practice. The stipulation of President Rush’s earmark was to fund “such programs as undergraduate research, faculty development, and faculty research.” Funding levels are on par, and were informed by, similar programs on other campuses.

Who put this program together?

Faculty and administrators on the SRAC designed the program. The previous members of the Subcommittee on Budget and Funding Opportunities are Ruben Alarcon, Ahmed Awad, Matt Cook, Scott Frisch, Colleen Harris, Jason Isaacs, Kimmy Kee-Rose, Sean Kelly, Mary Laurence, Sohui Lee, Kathryn Leonard, Jason Miller, and Amanda Quintero.

Why did these people get to design the program?

They volunteered for the SRAC and the Subcommittee on Budget and Funding Opportunities.

I want to be involved in these kinds of decisions and/or the SRAC. Who do I contact?

Contact Luis Sanchez (luis.sanchez@csuci.edu)

Will students live on campus?

Students who need to stay on campus will be able to arrange accommodations through Housing. Students are not required to live on campus.


[1] The Council on Undergraduate Research includes summer research programs among its Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research They observe that:

A robust summer research program is essential to a vibrant undergraduate research environment. For students, the summer months offer a time when they can concentrate exclusively on a research project, without competing interests and responsibilities. For faculty at more teaching-intensive institutions, the summer months provide the only time during the calendar year when faculty can focus their efforts exclusively on research. For faculty at all institutions, this is a time with fewer external and institutional commitments, and it can afford the opportunity for more intensive mentoring of undergraduates (16).

Universities in our region that offer similar programs range from Mount St. Mary’s and Whittier College to UCLA and USC.

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