BioSURF Program FAQ

About the Program

How much is the BioSURF stipend?

The stipend is $4000. Students are expected to be working 40 hours per week in their lab for a minimum of ten weeks during the summer. During this period Fellows may not be enrolled in any course or employed elsewhere. 

Is there a housing allowance?

No. Fellows will pay for and arrange their own housing.

May I take a vacation in the middle of BioSURF?

Possibly. You may negotiate with your mentor to take a vacation during your BioSURF as long as you contribute a MINIMUM of 10 weeks of full-time research within the set program dates in May and August.

What else is required besides the summer research?

Fellows are required to attend a Research Ethics Workshop. Also participation in the Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium is mandatory.  If you are studying abroad during the fall semester, you will present in the spring.

Are there other summer research programs available for Washington University students?

Yes, information on a variety of other programs is available on the OUR's Research Opportunities page.

About the Application Process & Eligibility

How do I start the application process?

The BioSURF application will go live in early January. In the meantime, you should be finding a mentor/lab and developing a summer project with them.

What are my chances of being awarded a BioSURF?

 In the past, about 50% of applicants have been awarded a BioSURF.

May I apply for more than one Fellowship or undergraduate research program?

Yes, you may apply for more than one Fellowship, but you may only accept one.

I was previously given a BioSURF award. May I apply for a second BioSURF award?

A second BioSURF is rarely awarded, except in the case where the mentor is unable to support the student or under other special circumstances. Please inquire, relating your circumstances, before applying for a second BioSURF. In your application and in the mentor's letter of recommendation, you and your mentor must clarify the special circumstance or explain the funding issue. If the circumstances warrant it, we will consider, without prejudice, a second application.

I am working on a project that is clinical. Can I still apply for BioSURF?

BioSURF funding is intended for basic biological and biomedical research, and clinical studies are not eligible for this support. Disease-related research is often eligible, but patient outcome research is generally not. If you are unsure about whether your project is eligible for support, please inquire before submitting an application.

I'm currently a senior. May I apply?

BioSURF is for continuing undergraduates only. However, if you will be a fifth-year senior during the following fall term, you are eligible for BioSURF.

I'm a freshman. Do I have any chance of getting a BioSURF?

Over 10% of last year's BioSURF participants were rising sophomores. Fellowships are awarded to both those new to research and those already experienced in proportion to the applications received.

About Your Mentor

My potential mentor works at another university, am I eligible for a BioSURF?

No; the BioSURF program only supports students working under the supervision of Washington University faculty. (The mentor may be a professor on the Danforth or Medical School campus.)

Is there a limit to the number of applicants my potential mentor can recommend for a BioSURF?

Washington University faculty may recommend no more than three applicants from their lab.

About the Research Proposal & Recommendation Letters

How long should the proposal be?

1-2 pages, double-spaced, written by you. Your proposal should include critical material to inform the review committee how you're going to approach the project.  See “Research Proposal Guidelinesto help you. Ask your mentor to review your proposal for completeness well before the final deadline.

Are examples of successful past proposals made available to applicants?

No. We do not release past proposals.

You ask for two letters of recommendation. I'm a freshman and all the classes I've taken had large enrollments so my professors don't really know me. What should I do?

This is an excellent opportunity to get to know your professors! Draft a short (one-page) resume of your activities, your interest in research and the BioSURF program, what you hope to do in your project, and make an appointment to meet with your advisor, a teacher, a resident advisor in your dorm, your dean, or others. Faculty members like to see students take this kind of initiative and generally are willing to write a recommendation. Remember, ONE letter of recommendation MUST come from your mentor.

In at least one of my classes the TA knows me and my work better than the professor does. May I ask a TA to write one of my letters of recommendation?

Yes. One letter may come from a graduate TA and one from your mentor.

Still have questions? Reach out to a member of our team. 

Send us an email