The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Teams (SURF IT) is a new program designed to encourage, guide, and fund independent, interdisciplinary, team-based research in any discipline. Interdisciplinary or convergence research brings together teams of undergraduates and their faculty mentors from different disciplines – i.e., different departments or colleges – to study a complex problem. Together, the teams pose a research question/hypothesis, design an integrated approach through the lens of their respective disciplines, and analyze their findings/results to yield a unified conclusion.
Through a series of activities during the academic year and summer, SURF IT offers students a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience that is team based, spans traditional academic disciplines, and focuses on real-world problems. The program provides custom-designed training for succeeding as a team with diverse backgrounds, and resources to facilitate this type of research. Program components include:
Fall Semester: The SURF IT program begins in early fall with a workshop open to all interested students. Workshop participants will be introduced to the unique design of interdisciplinary, team-based research, including the common pitfalls of this type of research (and how to avoid them). The workshop will also prepare participants to start forming their own research teams. By the end of the semester, a Pre-Proposal Application is required of all teams interested in continuing to the spring semester and summer research phases of the program.
Spring Semester: Student research teams whose Pre-Proposal Applications are approved are required to enroll in the SURF IT INCO 590 course (2 credits, pass/fail), designed to prepare students to be effective members and leaders of interdisciplinary research teams. This course will also help students and their faculty mentors to write a full research proposal for submission to the Hamel Center’s Faculty Review Committee in late spring.
Summer: For teams who complete the spring INCO 590 course and submit a successful final research proposal, SURF IT supports 10 weeks of full-time summer research based at one of the UNH Durham campuses (Durham or Manchester). This may include research that contributes to a senior project or thesis.
Funding for Summer Research
Up to $15,000 total per student team:
- Stipend: for teams of 2 ($8000), 3 ($11,000), or 4 ($13,000)
- Research-related expenses: for teams of 2 ($1200), 3 ($1,700), or 4 ($2,000)
- 2-4 UNH undergraduate students with at least sophomore status and minimum 3.0 cumulative UNH GPA at the time of each application (pre-proposal in fall and final proposal in spring) *(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.)
- All team members must be enrolled in a UNH or UNHM baccalaureate program.
- Team members must be from different majors, but preference is for members from different colleges.
- All team members must complete interdisciplinary research team training (INCO 590) in the spring semester, in preparation for the summer research.
- All team members must be returning to campus for at least one more semester (with a minimum enrollment of eight credits) following the research summer.
- Minimum of 2 UNH faculty members
- Must be from different departments, but preference is for mentors from different colleges.
- Faculty mentors may attend any interdisciplinary research team training (INCO 590), but this not required.
SURF IT Workshops
Students who are interested in learning more about interdisciplinary research, and how to form their own research teams, are invited to attend one of the workshops below. Please click here to register. Walk-ins are also welcome.
- Thursday, September 28: 5:00-7:30pm, Paul College 135
- Wednesday, October 4: 5:00-7:30pm, Hamilton Smith 105
- Pre-Proposal: November 29, 2023
- Full Proposal: April 22, 2024 (for research during summer 2024)
Applications must be submitted to the Hamel Center office (118 Conant) no later than 4:30 p.m. on the deadline dates above.
SURF IT Pre-Proposal Application
Read the Pre-Proposal Application Guidelines before completing the application forms. A complete Pre-Proposal Application includes: 1) Application cover sheet for each team member, 2) Project Narrative (with Title page), 3) Pre-Proposal Letter of Support from UNH Faculty Mentors, 4) UNH Faculty Recommendation (non-mentor) for each team member.
1. Attend a SURF IT workshop in early fall. The workshop will provide an introduction to interdisciplinary, team-based research, including: what differentiates interdisciplinary research from interdisciplinary activity; how to start forming you own research team (who should be on the team and what skills they will contribute); common pitfalls of team research (and how to avoid them).
2. Identify team members from different disciplines (and ideally different colleges). The goal will be to identify student peers with similar interests for a shared research project, but also students who will bring different disciplinary perspectives, knowledge, and skills for achieving the project objectives.
3. Make sure all team members are eligible. To be considered for the Hamel Center’s SURF IT program, each team member must be enrolled full-time in a UNH or UNHM baccalaureate degree program; must be at least sophomore status (in second year of full-time college coursework); must have a minimum UNH GPA of 3.0 at the time of each application (pre-proposal in fall and final proposal in spring); and must be returning to campus for at least one more semester (with a minimum enrollment of eight credits) following the research summer. *(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.)
4. Identify at least two UNH faculty mentors for your research team. Each SURF IT project team must have a minimum of two (2) UNH faculty mentors. Mentors must be from different departments, but preference is for mentors from different colleges. *Note: For the AY2023-24 pilot program, all tenure-track, research, clinical, and extension faculty are eligible to mentor a SURF IT project. Student teams should share the Role and Responsibilities of SURF IT Faculty Mentors memo with their mentors.
5. Meet with your mentors as a team to talk about the following questions:
- Is your research topic or research question sufficiently clear and well-focused?
- What additional materials should your team read to increase your knowledge of what has already be done on the topic?
- What sources/resources will your team need to use for this topic?
- What specific steps must your team take to investigate and carry out your project?
- What background/skill sets will your team need in order to complete those steps?
- How should your team plan to prepare further for the project during the spring semester (i.e., before the summer project begins)?
- How much time will this project require (both length of time and hours per week, depending on the number of team members)?
6. Make plans for submitting a draft of your pre-proposal to your mentors well before the deadline.
7. Secure a joint letter of support from your UNH faculty mentors. The “SURF IT Mentors Pre-Proposal Letter of Support” form can be found with the SURF IT application materials online. Complete the top portion of the form and give it to your UNH faculty mentors as soon as possible.
8. Secure a letter of recommendation from a UNH faculty member for each student team member. In addition to a joint letter of support from your faculty mentors, each student member of the team will need an individual letter of recommendation from a UNH faculty member who is not one of your team mentors. Complete and sign the top portion of the “SURF IT Faculty Recommendation Form” and give it to your individual faculty recommenders as soon as possible. The form can be found with the SURF IT application materials online.
9. 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 REAP 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.
10. Have each student member of the SURF IT team complete an Application Cover Sheet for inclusion with the team application.
Students are expected to collaborate as a team when writing the SURF IT pre-proposal. Students are also expected to write the pre-proposal themselves, in its entirety. Of course, students should consult with their mentors before writing the pre-proposal and ask their mentors 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.
- Project Title
- Student Team Members: name, major, and college of each
- Faculty Mentors: name, department, and college of each
Project Narrative (Please use the following questions as section headings)
- What is the topic of the project? What is the overall problem or issue to be addressed?
- Provide a concise description of recent, relevant research on the topic/problem/issue. What are the gaps in knowledge?
- What is your specific research question/hypothesis/objective?
- Provide a rationale/justification for why a team-based, integrated interdisciplinary approach is needed to answer your research question or achieve your research objective.
- What is your research plan? Describe the approaches/methods to be used, and the specific contributions by each member of the research team.
- What methods will be used to analyze results, so that unified conclusions can be drawn from your integrated analysis?
- Is your proposed team project feasible within the summer research window (10 weeks, full time)? Please provide a brief timeline of the team’s research activities and the amount of time required to answer your research question(s) and/or achieve your project objectives. What are the milestones you expect to reach during the 10-week summer research period?
- What is the significance of the project, e.g., relevance to a real-world problem, contributions to the respective fields of knowledge?
Preparation and qualification of each team member to undertake the project
- Coursework, jobs, extracurricular experiences; other research, training, or performance experience that each team member will bring to the project
- Why were team members from these specific academic disciplines/areas of experience chosen for this particular project?
- What plans do you have in the spring semester to prepare yourselves further before undertaking the proposed summer project? i.e., How do you plan to address possible deficiencies in your individual skill sets or in your approaches/methodologies in order to enhance your readiness for conducting the project as a team?
- If any member of your team has received a Hamel Center grant previously, please proved a 2-3 sentence description of how the current proposed research relates to (or differs from) the previously funded research.
- Illustrations or diagrams, if these complement the Project Narrative
- 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 Project Narrative 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.
- Sample of survey or interview questions, if these are part of your proposed research
The pre-proposal should:
- be typed and double spaced, using Times New Roman 12-point font (black)
- have one-inch margins on all sides (top, bottom, left, right)
- be no more than 7 pages long (excluding the title page and attachments)
- include page numbers
- include definitions of words specific to your disciplinary fields, 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 team’s disciplinary fields.
Share the Role and Responsibilities of SURF IT Faculty Mentors Memo with your mentors.
Complete the top portion of the SURF IT Faculty Mentors Pre-Proposal Letter of Support form and give the form to your mentors well in advance of the Pre-Proposal Application deadline. Your mentors should attach this form to their Letter of Support; place it in a sealed, signed envelope; and give it to the student team for submission to the Hamel Center with the complete Pre-Proposal Application.
Each student team member should complete the top portion of the SURF IT Faculty Recommendation Form and give the form to their individual UNH faculty recommender well in advance of the Pre-Proposal Application deadline. Each faculty recommender should attach this form to their Letter of Recommendation; place it in a sealed, signed envelope; and give it to the student team for submission to the Hamel Center with the complete Pre-Proposal Application.
The Hamel Center’s Faculty Advisory Committee reviews all applications. Each pre-proposal will be read by at least three faculty reviewers drawn from departments in CEPS, CHHS, COLA, COLSA, and PAUL. An application may receive a maximum of 30 points from each reviewer.
Quality of the Pre-Proposal: 14 points
- Is the pre-proposal well written, well defined, convincing?
- Does the pre-proposal provide a compelling justification/rationale for why a team-based, interdisciplinary approach is needed for the project?
- Does the pre-proposal adequately describe the interdisciplinary integration of the team toward shared project goals/objectives?
- Is the pre-proposal complete? Are all parts clearly explained in accordance with the project narrative?
- Is the pre-proposal understandable to general, educated readers who are not specialists in the proposed research fields?
- Is the project manageable and appropriate for the SURF IT time frame (i.e., anticipating 10 weeks of full-time research)?
Qualifications and Preparation of the Applicants: 10 points
- Does each student on the team possess sufficient disciplinary background/experience/preparation to conduct the research?
- Have the students developed a reasonable plan to further prepare themselves for the proposed summer research during the spring semester?
Faculty Letters: 6 points
- Does each student have the necessary preparation to undertake the project in the allotted time period?
- Does the project have relevance to a real-world problem and also educational value for the students?
- Is there a strong relationship between the students’ proposed project and the UNH mentors’ own research/scholarly/creative work or areas of expertise?
- Will the students receive adequate support from the UNH mentor team during the spring preparation and summer research periods?
Notification: All student teams and their faculty mentors will be notified of the review committee’s decision in writing by December 13, 2023. If the pre-proposal application is successful, the students will be required to enroll in the required spring INCO 590 course.
- Student research teams whose Pre-Proposal Applications are approved will be required to enroll in the SURF IT INCO 590 course (2-credits, pass/fail) in the spring semester. Each member of the team must complete the course in order for the team to remain eligible for funded summer research.
- As part of the INCO 590 course, student teams (with the help of their faculty mentors) will develop a full research proposal for submission to the Hamel Center’s Faculty Review Committee. Full proposals will be due no later than April 22. (Students will receive complete application guidelines as part of the INCO 590 course.)
- Successful SURF IT teams will be expected to conduct/complete the proposed research project in summer 2024 (10 weeks, full time).
- The SURF IT award (stipend and research expenses) comes with the following final requirements:
- Final Report: describing your project and your findings (~2000 words).
- Final Evaluation: to be completed electronically by each student and each faculty mentor.
- Letter of Appreciation: to be written by you to your sponsoring donor(s).
- Presentation of Research: 1) presentation of your team’s “work in progress” at a mid-summer gathering of all SURF IT participants, and 2) presentation of your research results at an appropriate forum (on or off campus) during the academic year. UNH’s Undergraduate Research Conference, held each spring, offers an excellent opportunity for presenting your research.
- SURF IT teams 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 Pre-Proposal Application for SURF IT
Students: please follow these instructions for submitting your application for SURF IT >>