The USD SURE program is designed to support student-based research projects under supervision of a USD faculty mentor. Eligible students are USD continuing undergraduates in good standing who will not have graduated before the award period begins. Eligible faculty mentors must be employed at USD or hold formal affiliated status with USD (e.g., Research Associate). Faculty mentors can oversee projects conducted by students outside of their own department or program. Currently, previous recipients of a SURE award are eligible to receive SURE funding for a second summer. There is no "renewal" process, and a new application for the current cycle must be submitted by the deadline. Students who receive funding for summer research through other sources (Hayes scholarship, McNair program) may not also receive SURE funding. SURE recipients are expected to spend 40 hours per week conducting their project; therefore students should not have other major schedule obligations such as taking summer classes or working at a job or internship.
The SURE program is open to all undergraduate majors, therefore the types of projects that may be funded with SURE awards vary widely. Projects must have a clear research or scholarship focus, and should be conducted in line with disciplinary standards of inquiry. SURE projects must be 10 weeks long and are performed in collaboration with a USD faculty mentor.
Policy on IRB and IACUC Project Approvals
Any awarded SURE project that involves human (IRB) or animal (IACUC) subjects must receive formal approval from the appropriate USD research ethics committee before the project begins. When the SURE award notification is received, the student should immediately work to submit the required materials to the appropriate committee. A copy of the ethics approval form (showing all necessary signatures) must be received by the Office of Undergraduate Research before any awarded project funds will be approved for distribution.
Research Integrity Training
All students and faculty mentors who are awarded a SURE grant must attend the Office of Undergraduate Research's one hour Research Integrity Training before any money can be awarded. Research Integrity Training is valid for 3 years. Faculty and students who have previously taken the training do not have take it again.
Overview of the SURE Application
SURE applications are comprised of four components:
1. a project proposal (up to 1000 words)
2. a personal statement (up to 250 words)
3. a letter of recommendation from the faculty mentor
4. a letter of recommendation from a faculty member other than the faculty mentor
5. (Optional) letter of support from a collaborating lab, school, research site, field site, or other entity that is an essential part of the proposed work
The project proposal should explain to a general audience the motivation for the work, what will be done, how, and when, and how the results of the project will be disseminated. The proposal must delineate a concrete timeline and must specify which activities will be carried out by the student and which activities will be carried out by the faculty mentor. The personal statement should address how the SURE project is in line with the student's career goals and current academic activities, and how the experience will benefit the student professionally.
Both the project proposal and personal statement should list the title of the project, student's name, and faculty mentor's name and department. These items are not calculated in the word count. Relevant figures may be included in the project proposal document. Please use a legible font. Documents that exceed the specified word limit will not be considered by the selection committee.
The SURE program is a student-oriented program, meaning that students are expected to write their own project proposals and personal statements. It is assumed that the faculty mentor will help shape the conceptual aspects of the project and will provide feedback to the student on the feasibility and impact of the proposed work. However, the project proposal and personal statement must be written by the student.
Submitting Letters of Recommendation
The online submission system allows faculty recommenders to submit their letters of recommendation directly to the selection committee. The online system will send an email reminder to the student's letter writers once the final application has been submitted, but it is the student's responsibility to talk to the recommenders in advance of the deadline to ensure that they are willing to write the letters of recommendation and that they are aware of the submission deadline.
Projects with Multiple Students
A SURE project proposal may include more than one student. Every student listed on the project is expected to have participated significantly in the writing of the proposal. For a given project only a single stipend amount will be provided if the proposal is funded, to be distributed proportionally among the students. The project proposal must clearly justify and define the roles of each student. When sumbitting the application, each student should submit an individual application and be sure to check the box for mutliple student collaborators on the online form. All students on the team should submit identical project proposals, whereas each student should write and submit their own unique personal statement. The faculty mentor of the project may submit a single letter of recommendation. However, each student is responsible for finding an additional USD professor to write the non-mentor letter of recommendation.
Should your project be funded through the SURE program, a limited amount of money is available for supplies and project-related costs. Supply funds cannot generally pay for books or similar personal expenses. SURE funds also do not generally pay for permanent equipment. Travel expenses for field projects may be requested, including converting stipend to cover travel costs (this is advantageous, because the stipend is taxable, whereas reimbursed travel expenses are not). Students who are awarded a SURE grant will be asked to submit a supplies request. Please do not include supplies budget information in the application documents.
SURE does not fund travel to professional meetings, or other expenses associated with such meetings. SURE may fund travel expenses when travel is required to perform research (see above).
A discounted on-campus housing rate is available to SURE recipients.
The review committee is composed of one faculty member from each department/program. Due to the considerable work of evaluating proposals, no feedback regarding rejected proposals will be provided by the review committee. Concerns or questions about the evaluation process should be directed to the Office of Undergraduate Research,and not to proposal review commitee members.
Distribution of Awards
The philosophy of the SURE program review committee will be to fund as many viable student projects as possible. The number of proposals has been rising every year, while available funds for awards has generally remained at the same level. Past funding rates have been around 50%.
SURE project awards cannot be changed once awarded, except under extreme circumstances, such as serious illness. Only the student who submitted an approved proposal is allowed to receive SURE grant funds. Substitution of a different student or students onto an already-awarded grant project is not allowed. If the student is unable to carry out the project, the award is to be declined.
The faculty mentor and the student are jointly responsible for beginning and continuing work as described in the approved project, including the agreed upon start date and length of work. Any significant changes in student or faculty participation should be reported to the Office of Undergraduate Research (for example, changes of more than one week for a 10 week project). If either faculty mentor or student or both do not begin the project, or stop working during the project, this must be reported immediately.
Faculty and student stipends are taxable and subject to withholding. The USD Payroll office can provide students information about possible exemption from withholding.
Each SURE awardee and faculty mentor is required to submit a progress report on their project. Progress reports are due no later than 5:00 PM on the day before the first day of Fall classes. They are to be submitted by email attachment to email@example.com. The progress report should be a one-page typed narrative of the progress made on the project. Failure to submit a progress report may result in: a) withholding of any remaining stipend payments; and/or b) disqualification of eligibility to participate in the SURE program. Information about late or delinquent progress reports are kept on file and provided to the SURE review committee in subsequent years.
USD Undergradaute Research Conference Presentation
SURE awardees are expected to present their research at USD's Undergraduate Research Conference in the spring following their summer research. Students should acknowledge the SURE program as a funding source and include a SURE logo on their posters.
Standard Timeline of SURE Activities and Deadlines
|Call for proposals:||End of Fall semester|
|Submission deadline:||Thursday, February 14, 2013|
|Progress report:||Before Fall classes begin|
|Project presentation:||12:15-2:15 p.m. Thursday, April 18, 2013, at the Undergraduate Research Conference in the Hahn University Center Forums|
History of the SURE Program and Funding Sources
The SURE program is funded annually by the Office of the Provost. On occassion, SURE may also be funded partly by external grants which may have restrictions on the types of projects funded.
The SURE program originally supported only science-based research primarily from the six founding departments of the program (Biology, Chemistry, Marine Sciences, Mathematics/Computer Science, Physics, and Psychology). Beginning in 2009, SURE funding was opened to students in all disciplines. SURE funding is not intended to fund assistants for faculty, but intellectually-engaged partnerships between students and faculty.
SURE Program Contact Information
If you have questions regarding the SURE program, please contact the Office of Undergraudate Research or 619-260-4553.