SURF Student Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs for SURF Students

Check out this page or this PDF for frequently asked questions.

What are the key details for SURF 2024?

Students are awarded the $5,000 stipend through the Office of Undergraduate Research & Inquiry and are expected to conduct about 30 hours of research per week for ten weeks (May 28th to August 2nd). Students are expected to treat SURF as full-time commitment and be dedicated to the program M-F from 9-5. In addition to conducting thirty hours of research per week, they will spend five to ten hours on programming, including weekly workshops and graduate student advisor meetings and completing written assignments, posters, and reflections.

Can I take a class during SURF or participate in SURF part-time to accommodate other summer commitments?

Students are expected to treat SURF as a full-time commitment. Courses, programs, or travel prevent students from dedicating time to research. Activities that do not overlap with the SURF dates (such as O-week advising) are allowed.

Where does the funding for the $5,000 stipend come from?

OURI awards the $5,000 stipend from funding allocated by the Office of the Provost. The stipend will be awarded in two parts with the first part paid by early May.

Will housing be provided?

Housing will not be provided as a part of the program. Students will be responsible for determining and paying for their housing needs. Students can apply for on-campus housing through Housing & Dining. A limited number of housing subsidies for on-campus housing may be available; students can indicate interest on the application.

Do I have to be in Houston?

Yes, in-person attendance throughout the program at workshops, advising, and a symposium is required for students. Research mentors cannot excuse students from these program requirements. SURF workshops and advising will not meet the week of July 4; students may travel during this week if the research project permits.

Who is eligible for SURF?

The SURF program is only open to returning Rice undergraduates who will complete the 1-credit UNIV 201: Research Readiness course before June 2024.

SURF is designed to address some of the disparities in research specifically at Rice University. Therefore, the program prioritizes first-generation college students and students from limited-income backgrounds without prior research experience. While our office is attempting to serve students who have not had access to research, we welcome students to express any barriers to research participation due to identity in the Personal Statement.

International students are eligible for SURF.

Am I required to choose a mentor from the provided list of faculty?

When applying, students can choose to list their mentor preference from a list of provided faculty and projects OR apply with a mentor of their choosing. If the student applies with a non-listed mentor, students will be required to obtain agreement from the mentor prior to applying. If selected for the SURF program, OURI will contact the mentor for a project description before any final acceptances.

Who completes the application?

Students are required to complete the application independently. The program application includes: • A personal interest essay that shares how being a SURF fellow will benefit the student personally and enrich their experience at Rice. • The project description (only will be required if the student is applying with a non-listed faculty mentor). • Resume.

When will the selection committee notify applicants of their decision?

Applications will open January 26th and close Sunday, February 18th. The selection committee will notify applicants of the decision during spring break (March 11th-March 15th).

How does SURF faculty mentorship work?

While the exact meaning of mentorship often differs depending on the discipline and parties involved, we expect SURF mentors to offer guidance through the research process and their specific summer project. This relationship involves helping the mentee develop skills related to the discipline. What these skills might include are different depending on what is appropriate for the project and subject matter (such as technical skills, writing skills, specific software usage, etc.). Because this will be a new experience for you, weekly workshops and graduate student advising will support your development of a strong mentor relationship and help you navigate challenges throughout the summer. Mentors can also be in various positions (such as faculty, graduate students, or post-docs).

What is the SURF Mentor Mixer?

OURI is hosting a SURF Mentor Mixer to allow students to meet with potential mentors before submitting an application. We are inviting a diverse set of students to a comfortable space to approach professors. This mixer is designed to be an opportunity for students to learn more about research projects and interact with faculty that they may select to be their SURF mentor. The mixer is February 6, 2023 from 4-5 PM in the Grand Hall. Space will be limited. All eligible students will be asked about interest at the end of January to determine if RSVPs are necessary.

How are faculty mentors assigned?

Students will be assigned based on student preference and the qualifications listed by the mentor. Faculty will have an opportunity to discuss projects and interact with potential SURF mentees before confirming the match. We do this to ensure we can match student interests while at the same time allowing faculty to review if the student meets any skill qualifications necessary to complete the work. Potential SURF applicants and faculty have an opportunity to discuss projects and interact at the SURF Mentor Mixer on February 6th.

What programming is available?

Workshops and program events will help students understand the roles and responsibilities of undergraduate researchers, set personal goals for the research experience, learn about graduate school and research careers, and practice research communication.

Additionally, students will meet in small groups with a graduate student advisor for individual advising on these topics. (check-ins about their research project and mentor relationships).

A research symposium is held on the final day of the program, August 2, for students to present their work.

Research mentors cannot excuse students from these in-person program requirements.

For any additional questions or concerns,
attend SURF Office Hours (schedule TBD) or email Jay Bethea (