BioSURF Program

The Washington University Biology Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program (BioSURF) introduces WashU undergraduate students to research in the life-sciences under the guidance of WashU faculty mentors. BioSURF is competitive and modeled on the grant-seeking process, with faculty from the WashU Biology Department and Medical School reviewing applications. Students gain a sophisticated and practical knowledge of the research enterprise as they enter the research environment and network within the community of scientists. Students experience the process of research as a creative intellectual activity and gain a more realistic view of the opportunities and demands of a professional research career.

Program Highlights

  • Student recipients receive an award of $4000.
  • Work is carried out full-time for ten weeks between May 17 - August 13.
  • Students give an oral or poster presentation at the Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium patterned after a professional scientific meeting. Students also attend a required Research Ethics Workshop.
  • Students build professional relationships within the research group and the broader research community.
  • The BioSURF program is intended to support only WashU students working with faculty from WashU campuses, including the Medical School.

Learn about the OUR Summer Research Programs

Check out the recording of the OUR Summer Research Info Session to find important info about WashU's BioSURF, as well as helpful details about SURA and uSTAR summer research programs.

OUR Summer Info Session

How to Apply

The BioSURF application process is modeled on the grant-seeking process. In collaboration with a WashU faculty mentor, the applicant will write a project proposal that will then be reviewed by a faculty committee. Awards are made on the basis of recommendations of the reviewers and available funding.


  • Open to all continuing WashU undergraduate students
  • Must be able to conduct research full-time for a minimum of 10 weeks between May 17 - August 13.
  • Only for basic biological and biomedical research; clinical studies are not eligible. 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.
  • Research mentorship from a WashU faculty member in the natural sciences or a member of the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences. Support is available for research in laboratories on the Danforth Campus and the Medical School (and some other local institutions). All BioSURF mentors must hold a faculty appointment at Washington University. Bench mentors may be graduate students or post-docs, but the recommendation and ultimate supervision must come from a professor. PLEASE NOTE: ALL RESEARCH MENTORS MUST COMMIT TO A 50% COST-SHARE WITH THE BIOSURF PROGRAM ($2000).

BioSURF Application Review Criteria

Fellows will be selected on the basis of their interest in and aptitude for research in the biological/biomedical sciences. Applications will be assessed based on:

  • quality of the proposal
  • contribution and significance of proposed research to your field
  • commitment to the project
  • quality of letters of recommendation
  • prior experience and academic record


The application for BioSURF is a two-step process:

  1. Step One collects general information about your proposed research, past experience, and recommenders and is due by February 1.

  2. Step Two will be emailed to you upon submission of Step One of the BioSURF application. You will receive an email with a URL unique to you where you will upload your proposal. FOR SUMMER 2021: YOU WILL ALSO BE ASKED TO PROVIDE A DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF YOUR RESEARCH PLANS IF CONDITIONS WARRANT A RETURN TO FULLY REMOTE RESEARCH. Please read our guidelines for writing your proposal. Letters of recommendation and Step Two of the application are due February 15 at 5PM.  

Before proceeding to Step One below, please have ready:

  1. Names, phone numbers, and email addresses of the two people writing letters of recommendation. A request for letters will be automatically generated and sent to your mentor and second recommender when you complete Step One of the application. Make certain the email addresses you enter are correct and that you have discussed your intent to apply for BioSURF with each of your recommendation letter writers BEFORE you submit your application.
    • One letter MUST be from your mentor (i.e. your lab PI) who must be a professor at Washington University. ALL RESEARCH MENTORS MUST COMMIT TO COST-SHARING YOUR AWARD WITH THE BIOSURF PROGRAM.
    • The second letter cannot be from someone else in your lab. It does not have to come from someone at WashU. 
  2. Current and prior research experience information (if applicable), including PI’s name and department, and the research area of your prior work.
  3. A preliminary title for your project.

Research Proposal Guidelines

Want to write the perfect research proposal to increase your odds of being funded? 

Learn More

Have questions? Visit the BioSURF FAQ.