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Undergraduate Summer Research Award

Student awardeesThe Undergraduate Summer Research Award provides funding for UC San Diego undergraduates majoring in the physical sciences (chemistry & biochemistry, mathematics, physics) to conduct a summer research project under the guidance of a UC San Diego faculty member. The program immerses students full time, in a research topic for 10 weeks (Summer 2021). Students are awarded a $7,500 stipend in support of their time and efforts conducting a summer research project. Housing is not provided; students must secure their own summer housing. Scholarships are competitive. Women, military veterans and students from underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Students applying for this program are required to work with a faculty member to develop and endorse a research proposal.

Undergraduate Summer Research Awardees are expected to provide a written report of their accomplishments at the end of the 10-week term, as well as participate in a public poster session presenting their research. The program dates are June 28, 2021 - September 3, 2021.   

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  • The summer research program accepts applications from undergraduate students with majors in any of the departments of the Division of Physical Sciences (Chemistry & Biochemistry, Mathematics, Physics).
  • Student applicants can be enrolled in any year. Senior students graduating before the summer research period are eligible to apply if they commit to 1) performing summer research under faculty mentorship which may require working on campus (typically during summer sessions I and II, July and August), depending on the nature of the project, 2) participating in the final poster presentation to award donors, student peers, and faculty, which takes place typically in week 5 of the summer session II.

Financial Aid

  • Students are awarded a $7,500 stipend in support of their time and efforts conducting a summer research project. Housing is not provided.
  • Awards are intended to be allocated specifically during summer months for research and will not displace financial aid for the academic year unless the student is enrolled in Summer Session and receiving financial aid.
    • Please note that if you plan to enroll in Summer Session and receive Summer financial aid, you may not be eligible to receive the $7,500 award from the Division of Physical Sciences. Per Federal regulations, each student is subject to a limited amount of aid (which includes this summer research award). Students should discuss potential impacts on their financial aid with a counselor at, (858) 534-4480.

Application Instructions

  • Students applying to this program need to provide the name and a nonconfidential endorsement letter of a faculty member who commits to serve as a mentor and host for the summer research.
  • Mentor faculty can be affiliated with any department or school at UC San Diego. They need not to be affiliated with the Division of Physical Sciences.
  • For the mentor endorsement letter, it is sufficient to include a simple statement that the faculty agrees to host the student for research on the project over the summer. The faculty letter is not confidential and does not need to contain an evaluation of the student. (Statements from the faculty letter will not be considered for award review and selection)

Review and Selection

  • Applications are reviewed by faculty committee with participation from previous years’ awardee mentors.
  • Review is done by one of three committees, depending on the subject area, consisting of faculty from, respectively, the departments of chemistry & biochemistry, mathematics, or physics.
  • Applications are evaluated in 5 categories:
    • The Personal Statement is evaluated for expressing awareness and motivation for the importance of individual research experience.
    • The Research Plan is evaluated for 1) sufficient description of the broader background for the project, 2) clear statement about the activities the student will perform, 3) description of the expected outcomes, and 4) whether the project goals are realistic for the summer research period.
  • Each application is reviewed by at least 2 faculty.

Tips For Submitting A Successful Proposal

  • Start early to identify a mentor for your summer research. Faculty often has ideas about summer research projects. Before preparing an application, speak to faculty and discuss possible research projects.
  • Do not submit an application without approval by the mentor faculty mentioned in the application.




william-lee-profile.jpgInitially conceived and started with funding from UC San Diego alumnus Bill Lee, MS 79, PhD 82, the Undergraduate Summer Research Awards provides substantial stipends to enable students to conduct research under faculty mentorship during the summer. Launched in 2018, the program places students in the role of private investigator, designing and pursuing new research, and learning not only from their successes, but also from experiencing failure as an intrinsic element of the scientific process.