Caltech's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF)

Caltech’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF)

Caltech’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program introduces students to research under the guidance of seasoned research mentors at Caltech and JPL. Students experience the process of research as a creative intellectual activity.

SURF is modeled on the grant-seeking process:

  • Students collaborate with potential mentors to define and develop a project
  • Applicants write research proposals for their projects
  • Faculty review the proposals and recommend awards
  • Students carry out the work over a 10-week period during the summer
  • At the conclusion of the program, students submit a technical paper and give an oral presentation at one of several SURF Seminar Days, symposia modeled on a professional technical meeting.

Fellows receive a $6,000 award for the ten-week period. Award payments are distributed in equal installments in late June and late July.

To enrich the research experience, SURF Fellows are invited to attend the following:

  • Weekly seminars by Caltech faculty & JPL scientists and engineers
  • An academic and professional development series on developing a research career, graduate school admissions, and other topics of interest to future researchers
  • Various social and cultural activities
  • Weekly small student-faculty dinners
  •  Special field trips

Eligibility Requirements for Caltech Students

To be eligible for SURF you must:

  • Be a continuing undergraduate student
  • Have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • Complete the third term at Caltech, or at another school under a program approved by a Dean
  • Be eligible for fall term registration before beginning your SURF project and no later than July 10
  • Not be under any academic or disciplinary sanction

Eligibility Requirements for Visiting (Non-Caltech) Students

To be eligible for SURF, you must:

  • Be a continuing undergraduate student and eligible for fall term registration*
  • Have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5/4.0
  • Complete the second semester or third quarter at your college or university
  • Not be under any academic or disciplinary sanction

Students must identify and contact a mentor in advance of submitting an application. A mentor must agree to support your application, help you to develop and define a research project, and assist you in the writing of the research proposal.

This early interaction is a very important part of the application process. Visiting (non-Caltech) students usually have to accomplish this discussion via e-mail, phone, or Skype. If a student is in the area, we encourage him/her to visit the campus and meet the mentor.

Please refer to the Finding a Mentor page and Tips for Meeting with a Potential Mentor for additional information.

All application documents must be submitted directly to the SFP Online system. SURF applications are due on February 22.

The application contains:

  • An online application
  • A proposal written by the student and uploaded to the application
  • Confidential letters of recommendation
    • Caltech students must submit two confidential letters (at least one from a faculty member). The second may be from an RA, TA, coach, or employer.
    • Visiting (non-Caltech) students must submit three confidential letters from faculty (at least two in the relevant discipline)
  • An unofficial transcript for visiting (non-Caltech) applicants

We will contact the applicant’s mentor for a confidential evaluation after the application is submitted.

Official Link: https://www.sfp.caltech.edu/programs/surf/program_description

Deadline: 22nd February, 2017