Surdna Foundation Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program
Phase One Application Deadline: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at noon
Phase Two Application Deadline: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at noon
Description. An undergraduate research fellowship program originally established in 1959, this fund was renamed in 1968 the Surdna Foundation Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program in recognition of gifts from the Surdna Foundation. The income from the fund established by these gifts underwrites the program's costs. Each Surdna Fellow participates in a research project under the direction of a faculty/staff member(s) who is independently interested in the area under study.
Eligibility. Students apply as juniors. Fellowships are awarded to highly qualified students and are carried out either the summer preceding the fellow's senior year or during the fellow's senior academic year.
APPLICATION PROCESS: Scholarly mentoring is crucial for a positive research fellowship experience. Interested students are encouraged to talk with faculty early in the process so that they can identify a faculty member who will be available and willing to mentor the student throughout the fellowship period.
Please note: If students wish to apply for more than one institutional research fellowship, they need submit only one application indicating which fellowships they are interested in. For example, if a student wishes to apply for a Doherty, Rusack, and Surdna Fellowship, s/he will submit just one application and in that application indicate that s/he would like to be considered for all three fellowships.
PHASE ONE APPPLICATION: The phase one online application (see deadline above) will require you (the student) to provide:
- student name and e-mail address
- contact information for your faculty mentor
- an uploaded PDF of your unofficial academic history from Polaris
- a brief paragraph describing your proposed research (This will not be considered during the evaluation process; it is purely for the benefit of your faculty mentor.)
When you submit your phase one online application, your mentor will receive an e-mail explaining how to submit a letter of support by the phase two deadline, and you will receive a confirmation email with a link to your phase two application. The phase one deadline pertains to student applicants only; the letter of support from your faculty mentor is due by the phase two deadline. If you have any problems or questions, please contact Corey Colwill.
If you are even considering applying for an institutional fellowship, you are encouraged to submit a phase one application. You can withdraw from the process by contacting Corey Colwill and your faculty mentor. There is no need to complete a phase two application if you are no longer interested in being considered for an institutional research fellowhsip.
PHASE TWO APPLICATION: Once you submit your phase one application, you will receive an email with a link to your phase two application. The phase two application will ask for:
- more detailed student identifying information (such as Student ID, SU Box, etc.)
- a two-page, single-spaced project description (for detailed instructions on what your project description should include, please refer to the "Selection" tab of this web page)
- if applicable, budget and justification for up to $500 of research-related expenses
- if your project is based in the humanities, a bibliography of representative primary materials and scholarly studies that will inform your project and that you plan to work with during the period of the fellowship. This bibliography should include at least six items (books, scholarly articles, or similar materials), but should be limited to one single-spaced page. Be sure to follow a bibliographical format (e.g., Chicago MLA) appropriate to your discipline.
Additionally, faculty mentors will be expected to email their letters of recommendation to Corey Colwill (email@example.com) by the phase two deadline.
Please note that there is limited funding available, and the application pool is extremely competitive. As a result, the Internal Student Fellowships Committee has to make very difficult decisions, resulting in some strong applications being left unfunded. An application, however, will be more competitive if it adheres to the following guidelines.
Selection Criteria. Members of the Internal Student Fellowships Committee review applications and base their award decisions on the following:
- Fit with fellowship criteria. The extent to which the proposed project meets the aims of the particular fellowship to which the student is applying should be explicitly stated.
- Relevance and significance of the proposed project. How the proposed activities relate and make an original contribution to the broader scholarly or creative field should be clear.
- Description of the proposed project. The research question or goal should be clearly stated and the methodology, processes and procedures plainly explained. The description should be concise, free of unnecessary jargon (or with specific terms defined) and easy to understand by a non-specialist.
- Feasibility/scope of the proposed project. Evidence that the student has sufficient expertise, gained through previous coursework or research experience, to carry out the proposed project should be clearly outlined. In addition, what the student aims to complete, and by what dates, should be evident. The project should have a reasonable expectation of being completed.
- Candidate's academic record. No GPA minimum is required; however, the transcript should provide evidence of sufficient coursework in the area of the proposed project and grades should indicate a strong understanding of the subject matter and likelihood of being able to carry out the project.
- Potential for learning. How the project will significantly enhance the student’s academic development (e.g., completion of an honor’s project) and possibly career and personal development (e.g., presentation at a conference, preparation for graduate school) should be clearly stated.
- Faculty mentor's letter of recommendation. The letter of recommendation should evaluate the student’s qualifications to carry out the proposed project and assess the appropriateness of the project’s scope within the context of the discipline. Letters should also describe the faculty-student mentoring relationship in some detail (e.g., how often will the mentor and student meet, what are the mentor’s expectations for the student) and why this plan is appropriate for the project. Faculty mentors will be expected to review student proposals before submitting their letters.
- Budget (when applicable). The budget should be comprehensive, specific, and reasonable. All costs should be relevant and essential to the project and be justified in the budget narrative. In general, budgets demonstrating frugality will be more competitive (e.g., shared accommodations, use of public transportation). Information about domestic and international travel costs can be found on the websites of the U.S. General Services Administration and U.S. Department of State, respectively. Students are advised, however, that the rates provided on these websites are in the higher range of what the Internal Student Fellowships Committee would expect to see in a student’s budget.
- Proposed activity’s contribution to the broader field or community not clearly stated.
- Procedures omitted, vaguely stated, or unrelated to the project; project unrealistic or unlikely to succeed.
- Failure to speak adequately to the student’s development.
- Failure to demonstrate the student’s and the mentor’s engagement in the project.
- Inflated or unreasonable budget, or narrative or notes that do not clearly support the budget.
In addition to the above, please also keep in mind:
- Inadequate attention to style raises questions about the student’s commitment to the project and likelihood to succeed.
- Brevity and lack of detail in the faculty member’s letter of recommendation raise questions about the degree of faculty support for the project.
Stipend/Research Related Expenses. The Surdna Fellowship carries a $3,200 stipend. Summer fellows agree to commit eight weeks full-time toward the completion of their proposed projects and to refrain from employment during their period of appointment. Academic year fellows agree to carry out their project on a part-time basis over two semesters (i.e., effort approximately equivalent to that of summer fellow).
If requested and approved during the application process, summer and academic year fellows may also be reimbursed for up to $500 for justified research related expenses (e.g., laboratory/art supplies, analytical costs, and travel beyond the local area to conduct field work or to visit an archive).
Should a faculty mentor feel that a fellow is not making sufficient progress toward the research goals set forth in the fellow's proposal, the College reserves the right to discontinue funding.
Housing. Summer Fellows, who are in good disciplinary standing with the College, are eligible to stay in campus housing during the summer. If you elect to live in campus housing over the summer, the College will cover the $600 cost and you will not pay rent. (Please note that for some students this benefit may be taxable.) Summer fellows who live off-campus, whether by choice or due to their standing with the Office of the Dean of Students, will not receive any support for their housing costs. Academic year fellows do not receive any support for housing.
Human/Animal Subjects. Bowdoin College is committed to the proper and humane treatment of all human and animal research subjects.
- Research involving vertebrate animals must be covered by a protocol approved by Bowdoin's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) before any research can commence. Often a student’s research project will fall under the auspices of a faculty member’s existing protocol. Talk with your faculty mentor and visit the IACUC website to learn whether you must submit an application to Bowdoin’s IACUC. If you are required to submit an application, it must be approved prior to beginning your research and before you can receive your first stipend payment. Please plan to submit your application two months prior to beginning your research.
- If your research involves human subjects, you may be required to submit a protocol application form to Bowdoin’s Institutional Research Board (IRB). Please talk with your faculty mentor and visit the IRB website to determine if your project requires IRB review. If IRB review is required, your application must be approved prior to beginning your research and before you can receive your first stipend payment. Please plan to submit your application two months prior to beginning your research.
If you are unsure whether your project needs approval, please contact either the IACUC or IRB chair, depending on whether your research involves vertebrate animals or humans, respectively. The chairs can be contacted via the IACUC and IRB websites.