Can I get both a stipend and academic credit for my project?
You may not receive both a stipend and credit for the same research during the same time period.
If you decide to do an Undergraduate Research Award (URA) project for credit (which is arranged through your department, not the Hamel Center), you are not eligible for a stipend. You are, however, eligible for an expense award up to $600. If you will not be doing research for credit, you may apply for both a stipend and an expense award.
The SURF program offers a $3500 stipend, with the expectation that you will be conducting your research full-time for 10 weeks during the summer. As a SURF recipient you are also eligible for up to $600 in expenses, but you may not receive academic credit for your work.
Where do I find a faculty mentor?
There are a number of ways to get help in identifying a mentor. Staff members at the Hamel Center will be happy to talk with you about your interests and about potential mentors and put you in contact with the undergraduate research liaison for your department. You can also ask a favorite professor, your advisor, or department chair. If you already know of a faculty member whose research interests you, talk directly to him or her. Finally, take a look at the website for your department; many websites list the research interests of individual faculty members.
Do I have to work on the same research as my mentor?
Not necessarily. While some students apply for support to work as part of a laboratory or other team doing research directly linked to that of a faculty member, others are interested in doing a more independent project. As long as your faculty mentor is sufficiently knowledgeable of and interested in your topic—and your plan is reasonable and clearly described—you should be able to pursue your project.
Does my research have to be “scientific?”
No. Students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply to the Hamel Center for support of their research, scholarly, and creative projects. Take a look at the profiles of former participants and see for yourself the variety of fields represented.
What is the time commitment involved in doing a Hamel Center-supported project?
It depends. SURF recipients are expected to spend ten weeks doing full-time research; however, the summer may in fact be part of a longer period of research (or scholarly or creative activity). Similarly, as a URA recipient you will undoubtedly spend at least a semester on your project—just as you would a regular course—but in fact you may be involved in a project that extends beyond a semester. Talk with a Hamel Center staff member if you have questions about your particular situation.
Can I receive support for senior thesis research?
Yes, many students receive support for work that is preparation for or part of their senior thesis project.
I’m a senior. Can I apply for a SURF award?
One of the requirements of SURF is that you will be returning to campus for at least one semester after completion of the program (in part because another requirement is that you share your experience and findings in an appropriate forum—often on campus). So if you will be a first semester senior in the spring semester, you can apply to participate in SURF during the summer. If you will be graduating in May, you are not eligible for SURF and might instead consider applying for an Undergraduate Research Award (URA) for research to be conducted before you graduate.
How competitive is the application process?
The Hamel Center does not fund a set number of projects or have quotas for projects from different areas of study. If you follow the proposal guidelines, write a clear proposal for a “doable” project, meet the eligibility requirements, and have the strong support of a faculty mentor, your chances of being supported are excellent.
Where can I present the results of my project?
Sharing your experience and findings is a valuable part of the research, scholarly, or creative process. You can do this on campus in a department forum, in a class, or at the annual Undergraduate Research Conference in the spring. Depending on your project, you may choose to give an oral presentation, be part of a poster session, or stage a performance. You may also want to submit a report of your project to Inquiry journal, UNH’s online undergraduate research journal. Some students present their findings at conferences or professional meetings off campus—and receive a Research Presentation Grant from the Hamel Center for some of their expenses. IROP recipients participate in a special International Undergraduate Research Symposium held during the fall after their return.
What is the difference between the International Research Opportunities Program (IROP) and traditional study abroad programs?
IROP (a nine-week research program) presents undergraduates with significant challenges and rewards different from traditional study abroad opportunities. The central difference is independence.
During their junior year, IROP grant awardees prepare with their UNH mentors to travel, unaccompanied, to their research sites abroad in the summer preceding their senior year. At the research site, these student researchers work under the direction of their “foreign mentor.” Unlike UNH managed programs, however, there is neither a UNH-affiliated on-site faculty director nor other UNH students to cushion the experience of another culture. Management of both research project and daily life in another country are the sole responsibility of the student.
The rewards of this autonomy are considerable. IROP grant recipients regularly report new confidence and self-determination as the most valuable aspects of an international research experience.