Role and Responsibilities of SURF Faculty Mentors

Thank you for your support of undergraduate research at UNH. As you begin serving as a faculty mentor, we urge you to review all SURF application guidelines and program requirements on the Hamel Center website and to contact us with questions or concerns as soon as they arise. What follows is some basic information that may be useful as you start out, especially if you have not served as a mentor before. 

It is the student applicant’s responsibility to complete and sign the top portion of the SURF Faculty Mentor Recommendation Form before giving it to you. You will then be responsible for completing the bottom half of the form, writing a letter of recommendation using the prompts on the form, and submitting both the form and your letter through the online portal (at the bottom of this page) by the application deadline. 

Mentor Eligibility: 

  • All tenure-track faculty members at UNH and UNHM are eligible, as well as non-tenure-track research, clinical, and extension faculty.   
  • Non-tenure-track lecturers, adjuncts, affiliate and visiting faculty may become mentors with the prior approval of the Hamel Center director and the appropriate department chair.   
  • Faculty members at other institutions, and individuals who are not faculty members but have expertise appropriate to the proposed research project, may become mentors with the prior approval of the Hamel Center director and the student’s UNH faculty mentor. 

See the complete list of mentor eligibility guidelines

Additional Notes about Mentor Eligibility and Availability:  

  • Eligibility for all mentors also assumes the mentor’s availability to work with the student researcher throughout the entire undergraduate research process – i.e., availability not only during the actual research period, but also before the research begins (to assist with project design and proposal writing) and after the research has been completed (to assist with analysis of final results and presentation of research). Faculty mentors whose availability may be compromised (e.g., by sabbatical leave, extensive travel/absence, a new job/position or relocation) should contact the Hamel Center director before the application deadline in order to determine eligibility. 
  • We strongly encourage faculty members to mentor no more than two student projects per research period – i.e., during the academic year or summer (including REAP, SURF, IROP, and Undergraduate Research Awards combined) – to ensure that individual students receive sufficient guidance and supervision for their research.  For faculty mentors who believe they have a strong rationale for mentoring more than two student projects per research period, we ask you to contact the Hamel Center director before the application deadline. 

Mentor Responsibilities: 

  • Explore possible research topics that reflect the student’s interests and preparation.*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 be given 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. 
  • Help your student define and focus the project, including the development of a timetable to assure that the project can be managed within the time frame allotted. 
  • Identify the knowledge, experience, and skills the student needs to complete the project – and develop a plan for the student’s acquisition of these before the research period begins. 
  • Discuss with the student the details of how the proposed research, scholarly, or creative project will be carried out and the features of a strong project proposal. A description of SURF proposal requirements, as well as the criteria for review of applications, can be found on the SURF webpage
  • Help your student determine if his/her project will require approval from a University review committee.  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.  (In some cases, the faculty mentor may already have obtained approval for the research, but the student will need to be added to the research protocol.)  The Hamel Center must receive confirmation of research approval before dispensing award money.  For more information about the research approval process, see the Hamel Center’s Responsible Conduct of Research page.  
  • Review and critique the student’s proposal. While it is the responsibility of the student to write the proposal in its entirety, it is important that the mentor review the proposal in time for modifications to be made before submission. Keep in mind that the proposal should be understandable by faculty review committee members who are not from the specific field of study represented by the proposal. 
  • If the student is conducting research away from UNH, discuss and identify the resources that will be available at the research location, including specific individuals to whom the student can turn for guidance.  
  • After reviewing the proposal and evaluation criteria, complete a recommendation letter using the prompts on the “SURF Faculty Mentor Recommendation Form.” Note: The student applicant must complete and sign the top portion of the form before giving it to you. Please submit the form and your letter through 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. 
  • Develop a time frame and a system of communication with the student during the project period that will allow for an appropriate balance of mentor guidance and student independence.  
  • Complete the Faculty Mentor Evaluation at the end of the research period. (The evaluation will be provided to you electronically.)  
  • Assist the student in identifying appropriate forums in which to share his/her experience and research. Students who are awarded a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) are required to present their work during the academic year following the summer research period.  Many SURF recipients choose to participate in UNH’s Undergraduate Research Conference (URC), but other conferences or departmental forums are also appropriate.