Information for Faculty and Graduate Mentors

The SURF program aims to provide a hands-on research experience for undergraduate students that will stimulate their interest in advanced education and research careers. The program is an opportunity to attract top undergraduates to Purdue’s graduate school. It is a 10-week program spread across an 11-week duration where students participate in research activities, attend professional development seminars, and complete assignments for approximately 40 hours a week. The professor outlines the student's research schedule and appoints a graduate student mentor for the undergraduate. The program facilitates SURF participants in planning their future career, writing professionally, and presenting at a technical conference.

Recruiting Undergraduate Researchers

  • Faculty members post a research project on the SURF website if they want to select a student from a pool of applicants.
  • Students are encouraged to contact faculty members with potential SURF opportunities. Faculty members are also encouraged to identify a student to apply for SURF.
  • Faculty members review applications and qualified students are then identified to interview for their project, after which faculty members will recommend a student for their project.
  • EURO office reviews all recommended applicants and finalizes the participant list.

Funding of SURF students

  • SURF participants receive a $6000 stipend
  • The SURF funding model splits the cost equally between — the professor, the professor’s school/department, and the professor’s college. Each entity contributes $2000 towards one SURF student.
  • If a PI wish to recruit more than one student or have more than one project, PI is responsible for 2/3 or the full stipend depending on the departmental agreements.
  • In addition to the stipend contribution, PIs recruiting external students are requested to contribute $1000 towards external student housing costs.

Timeline for SURF program

  • Student/application review and selection period starts January 10, 2023 through March 31, 2023
  • Request students by the third week of March 2023
  • Offer letters will be sent by EURO throughout the last week of March

Post a SURF project between

  • November 23, 2022 - January 9, 2023: To ensure all the students (especially the early birds) see your project. This is the recommended timeframe for submitting the projects as it maximizes the number of applicants you will receive for your project(s).
  • January 10, 2023 - February 15, 2023: A project can still be submitted in this timeframe. However, the students would've already started applying for apply for SURF and you might miss out on some good candidates. If you choose to submit in this timeframe, please do it ASAP to maximize the number of applicants you will receive for your project(s).
  • February 16, 2023 - March 31, 2023: Students applications will end by this time. A project can still be submitted but you will receive no student applications directly for your project. You can still choose the students from our database. However, other faculty might have already selected some of the best applicants.

Selecting students via the SURF portal

You can download a step by step guide to request the SURF students from the SURF portal here. Please note that you must have a project posted (and approved by EURO staff) before you can make student selection.

Confidentiality of the Project

Please note that students are required to present their research in a public forum and the abstract of their work will be made public in the form of an abstract booklet. Because their work will be presented to the public, research projects that have confidentiality restrictions are not suitable for students in this program.

Mentoring a SURF participant

Your role as mentor plays an important role in the student’s decision to pursue a research career. Some tips for engaging undergraduate researchers include:

  • Assess your student’s skills, knowledge, and interests
  • Create an open environment and encourage your student to ask questions
  • Explain the overall goals of the project, and the student’s role
  • Meet with the student on a regular basis, a fixed weekly meeting is recommended
  • Clearly define your expectations and outline the student’s tasks and responsibilities
  • Work with the student to develop a schedule to complete various aspects of the project within the length of the program
  • Explain the role of other members of the team and the reporting structure
  • Provide guidelines and expectations regarding the lab notebook and data collection
  • Provide constructive feedback, employ active listening skills
  • Get to know your student on an informal basis. Talk to your student about career options, research as a career, graduate school options.
  • Review the schedule of SURF activities and encourage your student to actively participate

Additional Resource: Graduate Students Mentoring Undergraduate Students: Opportunities, Expectations, and Strategies (PDF); Presentation by Dr. Sean Brophy, Purdue University

Safety in the Laboratory

Every SURF student must become familiar with laboratory safety practices. SURF faculty and graduate student mentors are responsible for providing a safe environment and should:

SURF participants are not employees of the University and therefore are not covered under Workman’s Compensation. During the summer, each SURF student is covered with limited medical insurance through the Risk Management Office. This coverage is primary but does have limitations. Any unapproved and unpaid medical expenses will be the financial responsibility of the student.

If the student needs medical assistance, contact the SURF office as soon as possible.