Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF)

Jolene Harju, Music Performance, and mentor, Professor Peggy Vagts

The  SURF USA  program offers a  $4000 stipend and up to $600 in research expenses for 10 weeks of summer research on campus or at other research sites within the United States. (For summer research outside the U.S., see  IROP.)  Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships are designed to provide support for students doing independent research.  So, while students may participate in a faculty member’s research, they should not serve merely as research assistants. If participating in a faculty member’s research, students should develop a specific research problem to investigate on their own with the advice and assistance of their faculty mentors. Students should have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of professional research: from the design and development of the project to the analysis and conclusions. 


  • SURF grants may support research that contributes to a senior project or thesis.   
  • Students may not accept both Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and other awarded funding for the same research during the same time period (e.g. NSF, Pfizer, Space Grant, or other grant that awards money for research).  If you have any questions, please consult with Hamel Center staff. 
  • SURF recipients may not be enrolled in summer courses during the award period unless they receive prior approval from the Hamel Center director. 


  • Undergraduate at UNH or UNHM  
  • Enrolled in a UNH or UNHM baccalaureate program 
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative UNH/UNHM GPA at the time of application.  (Transfer students must have completed at least one full-time semester at UNH or UNHM at the time of application, with a minimum 3.0 GPA earned from UNH/UNHM courses.)  
  • At least sophomore status (in second year of full-time college coursework) at time of application, returning to campus for at least one more semester (with a minimum enrollment of eight credits) following the research summer   

Application Deadline

March 6, 2024 for summer 2024 

For help with your application, consult our advice for writing an effective proposaland consider attending a proposal writing workshop. 

Applications must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. on the deadline date above. 

SURF Application Guidelines

Read the Application Guidelines before completing the application forms. A complete SURF application includes: 1) Application Intake Form (to be completed through the online application portal), 2) Proposal, 3) Budget (if requesting expense funds), 4) UNH Faculty Mentor Recommendation, 5) UNH Faculty Recommendation (non-mentor). Please refer to the SURF Application Checklist which outlines each step of the application process. 

We strongly urge you to take several steps before you write your proposal and complete your application. Some homework up front will minimize confusion at deadline time and will increase your chances of success! These steps are: 

  1. Review the information in these guidelines for detailed information about the program and the application process.  
  2. Make sure you are eligible. To apply, you must be a UNH or UNHM undergraduate enrolled in a baccalaureate degree program, with a minimum 3.0 cumulative UNH/UNHM GPA at the time of application.  If you are proposing a group project, make sure all applicants are eligible.  *Note: First-year and transfer students must have completed at least one full-time semester at UNH or UNHM at the time of application, with a minimum 3.0 GPA earned from UNH/UNHM courses. 
  3. Talk with a Hamel Center staff member about your proposed research and any questions you may have – including how to identify a faculty mentor. *Note: Students may participate in a faculty member’s research; however, students should not serve merely as research assistants. If participating in a faculty member’s research, students should develop a specific research problem to investigate on their own with the advice and assistance of their faculty mentors. Students should have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of professional research: from the design and development of the project, to the analysis and conclusions.   
  4. Make sure you have a firm commitment from a UNH faculty mentor.  Complete and sign the top portion of the “UNH Faculty Mentor Recommendation Form” and give it to your mentor as soon as possible. You should also plan to give your mentor any personal background information you think might be useful toward the recommendation letter (e.g., a resume or list of relevant coursework, jobs, skills or knowledge; educational and career goals). *Note: All tenure-track, research, clinical, and extension faculty are eligible to mentor an undergraduate research project funded through the Hamel Center without prior approval.  Other non-tenure-track faculty may be eligible with prior approval.  See complete guidelines on faculty mentor eligibility.
    • For a group project, the UNH Faculty Mentor should write and submit a separate recommendation letter for each student applicant.
    • In a co-mentoring arrangement, the two faculty mentors should prepare a joint recommendation letter that addresses the shared mentoring plan.
  5. RE: Need for an off-campus mentor:  Students who are planning to conduct their research at a non-UNH site off campus (e.g. during January term or in the summer) may require a second mentor at the off-campus site, depending on the nature of the research.  A student doing off-campus field research for a UNH-based project, for example, would not need a second mentor at the off-campus site.  A student working on research sponsored by another institution or one of its faculty, however, will need an off-campus mentor, in addition to a UNH faculty mentor.  This arrangement will require the approval of the Hamel Center director and the student’s UNH faculty mentor prior to application.  Students with these kinds of off-campus research projects should contact the Hamel Center office before applying.  More information is available here.  
  6. Secure a second letter of recommendation from a UNH faculty member who is not your mentor.  Complete and sign the top portion of the SURF USA “UNH Faculty Recommendation” form and give it to your second recommender as soon as possible. 
  7. Consult the Hamel Center website for advice on writing an effective proposal, and allow ample time to complete all application materials.  *Note: If you are planning a group project, be sure to contact the Hamel Center office before applying. 
  8. Attend a proposal writing workshop. The workshop presenter will go over the required elements of the proposal and will be available to answer any questions.  The schedule of workshops will be posted online at the start of each semester. 
  9. You may also make an appointment with a Hamel Center staff member who can look over your proposal draft to see if it meets requirements for format and style.  (Note:  It is your mentor, not a Hamel Center staff member, who can critique your draft with regard to its discipline-specific content.) 
  10. Ask your faculty mentor to review your proposal draft.  Be sure to allow sufficient time for your mentor’s review and comments before the deadline. 
  11. Determine if your project will require approval from a University review committee.  Certain types of research are subject to federal regulations and University guidelines. For example, any projects involving interviews, surveys or questionnaires – i.e., all having to do with human subjects – must receive approval from UNH’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) before the research begins.  Similarly, research involving vertebrate animals, infectious agents, DEA controlled substances, lasers, x-rays, hazardous chemicals, radioactive materials, carcinogenic material, recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules, NMR/superconducting magnets, and/or patents and copyrights must receive approval from the appropriate University review committee before the research begins.  If you have questions about how to obtain research approval, talk with your faculty mentor or a Hamel Center staff member.  You do not need to submit written evidence of this approval with your SURF application; however, if you are granted an award, the Hamel Center must receive confirmation of approval from the appropriate University review committee before dispensing your award money.  So, it is in your best interest to begin the approval process before or at the time of your application.  Read more about responsible conduct of research here.  

The project proposal is the most important part of the application. To prepare a competitive proposal, students should follow the Proposal Outline carefully and adhere closely to the formatting guidelines.  Ideally, all SURF applicants should use the Proposal Outline as a guide in organizing their proposal, using the subheadings indicated below. However, since research varies among the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and performing/fine arts, students may adapt the outline to their project and field of study when appropriate.   

Students are expected to write the SURF proposal themselves, in its entirety.  Of course, students should consult with their mentor before writing the proposal and ask their mentor to critique it once they have written a draft.  Even with mentor input, however, the final proposal should reflect the students’ own work.  **Students should allow sufficient time for revision. 

Proposal Outline 

1.   Title page: including the project title, your name and major, your faculty mentor’s name and department, and the program for which you are applying 

2.  Abstract:  a brief summary of your proposed project, not to exceed 200 words. 

3.  Project History and Definition  

  • general problem, theme, or issue to be addressed  
  • historical or theoretical context  
  • most relevant previous research, scholarship, or artistry on this topic by other researchers, scholars, or artists  
  • project’s specific question, hypothesis, or objective(s) 

4.  Approach/Methodology  

  • methods, procedures, theories, or lines of thinking and/or creating you will use to address your research topic and answer the question(s) you pose  
  • if you plan to conduct interviews or surveys: what assumption/hypothesis/general principle you will test; the number of participants you will seek and how you will recruit/select them; sample interview/survey questions 
  • materials and sources you will need to study in order to pursue your project 
  • how you will analyze, interpret, and/or evaluate your findings (i.e., the material you study, the data you collect, or your creative experience) 
  • how and why your mode of analysis will enable you to accomplish your objectives and/or answer your research question(s)  
  • foreseeable challenges, obstacles, or difficulties – and how  you are prepared to address them 

5.  Significance/Meaning/Implications  

  • contribution of your project to the problem and your field 
  • wider implications of your research or artistry (e.g., social, cultural, intellectual, creative, practical, theoretical) 
  • if this project is a portion of a more comprehensive research project being conducted by your UNH faculty mentor, include an explanation of how it fits into the whole 

6. Personal Outcome  

  • tangible product(s) of your project (e.g., report, paper, thesis, presentation, production, exhibition, film, etc.) 
  • contribution of the project to your educational goals, including how this project will enhance your understanding of your particular field 
  • contribution of the project to your long-term career goals  

7. Location 

  • principal location of project work  
  • other research or artistic sites and source locations to which you will travel  
  • if you will travel to an off-campus research site, describe specific resources and/or contacts at the site that will be instrumental to the project and to accomplishing your objectives 
  • if you need prior approval to gain access to your research site and its sources, describe how and when you will obtain written permission 

8. My Role/Preparation/Experience 

  • your specific role during the research period (if a group project, the role of each student on the project) 
  • your preparation and qualifications to undertake the project (e.g., previous coursework, jobs, extracurricular experiences; other research, training, or performance experience)  
  • your plans for further preparing yourself before undertaking the project (e.g., coursework in research methods or related subject matter, additional in-depth research on the topic, skills acquisition/training, practical experience, other resources) 
  • if one of your methods will be interviews and/or surveys: how you will prepare yourself to design and conduct these (e.g., coursework, training by your mentor, etc.) 
  • role of your faculty mentor and others (graduate students/technicians/collaborators), including the plans you and your mentor have made to communicate on a regular basis during the research period  

9. Timetable  

  • time allotted to each portion of your project (e.g., week by week, or stage by stage), with as much detail as possible  
  • brief explanation of research activities and timetable for your entire project, if the SURF-funded portion is part of a larger project (e.g., senior capstone or thesis) 
  • Note: A successful SURF project will require a substantial amount of time, effort, energy, and focus to complete. Your estimated SURF Timetable should anticipate 10 weeks of full-time research. 

10.  Appendices 

  • Statement of Previous Hamel Center-Funded Research (if applicable) 

Students who have received Hamel Center funds previously (e.g., REAP, Undergraduate Research Award, SURF, IROP) must submit with their application a “Statement of Previous Support.”  This statement (no more than one page, double spaced per award) should include the following information about previously funded research:  1) Hamel Center grant received, 2) Project Title, 3) Faculty Mentor, 4) project start/end dates, 5) a brief description of how the current proposed research extends and/or differs from research previously funded by the Hamel Center, including how the results of that former research might inform the research now being proposed (if applicable). 

  • Attachments  
    • illustrations, diagrams, or video/audio recordings as necessary 
    • one- to two-page bibliography of primary and secondary sources that you will use toward this project (e.g., books, journal articles, films, interviews, media sources, master classes).  Note: Be sure that all sources which you consulted in preparing the proposal are cited in the proposal text and listed in the bibliography.  Format the in-text citations and bibliography according to the style guidelines for your discipline.  
    • surveys, questionnaires, and interview questions, if these are part of your research  

Proposal Format and Style   

The proposal should: 

  • be typed and double spaced, using Times New Roman 12-point font (black)  *Note:  You may single-space your Timetable. 
  • have one-inch margins on all sides (top, bottom, left, right)  
  • be no more than 8 pages long (for a group project, no more than 10 pages long) – this length excludes the title page, abstract, and appendices/attachments 
  • include page numbers 
  • follow the Proposal Outline carefully, using clear subheadings (as above) for each section 
  • include definitions of words specific to your field or research, if faculty members outside your field are not likely to be familiar with them.  Note: In general, you should keep in mind that Faculty Review Committee members represent a range of disciplines, so your proposal should be written in a way that can be understood by an educated reader who is not necessarily a specialist in your field.    
  • Save your proposal as a PDF to be uploaded to the online application portal.  Use this naming format: Lastname_Firstname_SURF_Proposal 

Please review the following instructions before completing the Budget Form

In consultation with your Faculty Mentor, determine as accurately as you can your estimated expenses.  List each item and its exact cost per unit, and briefly note its importance to your project. Identify the most critical items in your budget. You may request up to a maximum of $600 for expenses directly related to the completion of your project. (For group projects: submit one budget, for expenses up to a maximum of $600 per group member.) Expense awards only cover costs directly related to the completion of your project.  They do not cover the cost of copying your thesis or research paper, or costs associated with presenting your research, such as research posters. 

Note: The Hamel Center may not be able to fund all your project expenses. It is understood that the budget represents your best estimate of the costs. Your budget should represent the total amount without which your project will not be possible.  If this total exceeds $600, please use the “Contributions from Other Sources” chart on p. 2 of the Budget Form to indicate the sources (including personal) from which the remaining expenses will be drawn.    

  • Supplies: These include, but are not limited to: note-taking supplies (e.g. paper/notebooks, pens/pencils), art supplies, supplies for lab or field work (e.g. chemicals, lab animals, etc.).  You should provide the exact cost of each item. You may do this by talking to your faculty mentor, looking through supply catalogs, or shopping around. If you are ordering supplies from a company off-campus, be sure to include the cost of shipping and handling. 
  • Travel Expenses: Travel using a personal vehicle will be reimbursed at the IRS Standard mileage rate in effect at the time of travel. The current rate is available at?Procedure?07-002 Website for Travel References. Compute mileage for travel by car based on this rate. Include only those travel expenses related to the completion of your project.? Please take note of these particular guidelines: 
    • For summer research, travel expenses may include commuting from your summer residence to your research site(s). These may include sites on the UNH campus or off campus (e.g., libraries, archives, museums, and the field). Where possible, you are strongly encouraged to consider public transportation, which is often cheaper.   
    • If UNH will be your primary summer research site, your travel expenses may include a $50 summer parking pass.   
    • Travel expenses may not include food/lodging expenses (e.g., if a hotel stay is necessary during research).   
    • If you wish to present the results of your research at a professional conference or meeting, there is a separate Research Presentation Grant for which you may apply after your research is complete. 
  • Other Expenses: This category refers to any expenses in the following areas – photocopies, phone calls, postage, special fees for access to research sites, fees for instrument time, or services rendered – along with any expenses that might not be covered within the other categories. Most of these items should be calculated by the number needed for your research project and the cost for each. For example, 100 photocopies multiplied by 10 cents each will give you the total amount of $10 needed by you. For “services rendered,” you should contact the person or department where the work will be done for an estimate of the cost. 
  • Permanent Equipment: While the Hamel Center is willing to provide support for permanent equipment necessary to your research project, we may request that your home department share the cost of such equipment. Non-expendable items purchased with SURF funds (e.g., books, computer software, music recordings/sheet music, electronics, mechanical equipment, durable lab equipment) are University property and must be returned to the University once the project is complete.  Please take note of these particular guidelines:    
    • Software: The Hamel Center will approve the cost of software only in special instances, and where the student provides a clear rationale for needing to purchase the software – as opposed to accessing the software through other University resources. Several software applications (including SPSS) are available for use at no cost by the entire campus through a central UNH network license. Faculty and students can access these licensed applications through their own personal computers or through the campus-wide computer clusters. Thus, students who are requesting Hamel Center grant funds to support the cost of software must include in their application a clear explanation of why the purchase of software is necessary to the success of the research project.  For more information about UNH Academic Software Applications available through network license, see   
    • Books:  If you include books among your expenses, you must verify that these books are not available through the UNH Library system, including Inter-Library Loan (ILL) and the Boston Library Consortium (BLC).  See for more information.  
  • Save your Budget as a PDF to be uploaded to the online application portal.  Use this naming format: Lastname_Firstname_SURF_Budget 

Complete the top portion of the SURF Faculty Mentor Recommendation Form and give the form to your mentor well in advance of the application deadline.  Your mentor will be responsible for uploading the form and their letter of recommendation to the online portal no later than the application deadline. 


  • For a group project, the UNH Faculty Mentor should write and submit a separate recommendation letter for each student applicant. 
  • In a co-mentoring arrangement, the two faculty mentors should prepare a joint recommendation letter that addresses the shared mentoring plan. 

Complete the top portion of the SURF Faculty Recommendation Form and give the form to your second UNH faculty recommender well in advance of the application deadline.  Your faculty recommender will be responsible for uploading the form and their letter of recommendation to the online portal no later than the application deadline. 

The Hamel Center’s Faculty Advisory Committee reviews all applications. Each proposal is read by at least three faculty reviewers drawn from one of the following two general areas of study: 1) departments in COLSA and CEPS, and 2) departments in COLA, CHHS, and Paul College.  An application may receive a maximum of 25 points from each reviewer. 

1. Quality of the Proposal: 12 points  

  • Is the proposal well written, well defined, convincing?  
  • Is the proposal complete? Are all parts clearly explained in accordance with the proposal outline? 
  • Is the proposal understandable to a general, educated reader who is not a specialist in the proposed research field? 
  • Is the project manageable and appropriate for the SURF time frame (i.e., anticipating 10 weeks of full-time research)?  

2. Qualifications of the Applicant: 5 points  

  • Are the qualifications, preparation, and experience of the student adequate for carrying out the project? 

3. Appropriateness of the Budget: 2 points  

  • Is the budget itemized?  
  • Is it clear why the items are necessary to the project? 

4. Faculty Recommendations: 6 points  

  • Past or present experience supervising the student in coursework, research, or independent work. 
  • Preparation of the student to undertake the project in the time period allowed.  
  • Significance of the project and its potential educational value for the student. 
  • Relationships between the student’s project and the faculty mentor’s own research, scholarly, or creative work or areas of expertise. 

Notification:  All applicants and their faculty mentors will be notified of the review committee’s decision in writing within approximately six weeks of the application deadline (i.e., no later than April 15).  If your application is successful, you will then be asked to sign a Letter of Intent and will receive further program information, including procedures for receiving your stipend and expense award. 

In addition to the expectation that you will conduct/complete the research project proposed in your application, the SURF USA award comes with the following requirements: 

  1. Final Report: describing your project and your findings (~2000 words). 
  2. Final Evaluation: to be completed electronically by you and your faculty mentor.   
  3. Letter of Appreciation: to be written by you to your sponsoring donor(s). 
  4. Presentation of Research: presentation of your research results in an appropriate forum (e.g., to a class, to department majors and/or faculty, at an on- or off-campus conference). UNH’s Undergraduate Research Conference, held each spring, offers an excellent opportunity for presenting your research.   

SURF students are also encouraged to consider publishing a research brief, commentary, or article in Inquiry, UNH’s online undergraduate research journal, and/or to contribute to the Hamel Center’s Undergraduate Research Blog

Submitting Your SURF Application  

Students: Please have your completed PROPOSAL and BUDGET (if requesting expense funds) ready for upload before submitting your application here >> 

UNH Faculty Mentor Recommendation for SURF

Faculty Mentors: Please follow the instructions in the SURF Faculty Mentor Memo >> 

UNH Faculty Recommendation (non-mentor) for SURF

Faculty Recommenders (non-mentor): Please submit the UNH Faculty Recommendation Form and Letter of Recommendation through the online portal.