Seventy-nine undergraduates to spend the summer engaged in research

Many SURF recipients go on to present their work at the annual spring Celebration of Undergraduate Research. (photo by Donn Young)
Many SURF recipients go on to present their work at the annual spring Celebration of Undergraduate Research. (photo by Donn Young)

Seventy-nine undergraduate students at UNC will spend the summer engaged in research, thanks to 2013 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURFs) awarded by the Office for Undergraduate Research.

Some of their projects include:

  • “Desegregation to 2013: Chapel Hill Schools.”
  • “Aspiring for More: A Study of the effects of LGBTQ Youth Bullying on Educational Outcomes.”
  • “Decision Fatigue and Self Control.”
  • “Effect of Physical Activity on Glucose Management in Children and Youth with Diabetes.”
  • “God, War and Prayer: Examining Prayer in the Context of Ingroup-Outgroup Conflict.”

Undergraduate majors include biology, environmental health, geology, exercise and sport science, religious studies, journalism and mass communication, political science and many others.

Competition for the award was quite intense, as 199 undergraduate students submitted research proposals for review. A multi-disciplinary committee evaluated each recipient’s proposal based on feasibility, originality, background knowledge and skills.

Each SURF will engage in undergraduate research, scholarship or performance for at least nine weeks, for a minimum of 20 hours per week, between May 13 and Aug. 16. Projects will be supervised by a faculty research advisor, and collaborations with graduate students or postdoctoral fellows is encouraged.

SURF award recipients receive at least $3,000. Funding for the SURF program comes from many sources including Honors Carolina, the Cancer Center, Carolina First campaign, and the Carolina Parent’s Council. Successful applicants are also expected to present their research at UNC’s annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research held in April.

Past SURF recipients have gone on to do exciting things:

  • Alex Biggers, 2012 SURF, designed a financial program for the Community Empowerment Fund, called Renter’s Savings IDA.
  • Reed Turchi, 2010 SURF, founded Devil Down Records, plays in a blues band and is director of Ardent Records.
  • Alia Khan, a 2007 SURF, blogged for The New York Times.

SURF awards are open to all currently enrolled undergraduate students who wish to engage in undergraduate research, scholarship or performance. The SURF program attracts a variety of students, from the novice researcher, the student who always seeks to discover something new, and those preparing for their honors thesis. Applications are reviewed at the end of February.

The Office for Undergraduate Research offers several undergraduate summer programs. These programs vary in scope from those that target rising sophomores and transfer students majoring in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines, to those seeking to become future teachers or scientists and clinicians.

The SURF program is unique in that it aims to support the diversity of student projects at each stage of the undergraduate’s career. Projects vary by discipline, and some scholars travel abroad.