Carnegie Mellon University

Information for Faculty Mentors

Every student who applies for a SURG grant must have a faculty mentor to oversee/supervise the student during the research process. Your recommendation figures prominently in the decision-making process by the OURSD selection committee. This is a competitive process.  

Once a student completes an application form for SURG and lists the faculty mentor for the project, an automated email will be sent to the mentor with a link and instructions to upload the letter of recommendation.  The mentor can review the application materials if necessary, then upload the letter and click the "Faculty Approve" button to send the application forward for review.

Letter of Recommendation:

Mentors should give feedback to the student as she or he drafts the SURG proposal and write a letter of recommendation for the SURG Selection Committee stating whether or not:

  • the proposed project is feasible and worthwhile
  • the student is capable of pursuing the research
  • you, as the mentor, are willing to provide oversight
  • you will meet with the student regularly during the course of the research project

The letter of recommendation comments not only on the student's abilities but also specifics on the mentoring process: the research expectations for the student; how the relationship between mentor and student will be structured and defined; how often mentor and student will meet; if there are graduate student mentors involved; who will take over if the mentor is out of town for a short time; the timetable of the project; and the nature of the student's contribution.

Please see more information on Enhancing Education at Carnegie Mellon.

After the project is completed at the end of the semsester, the studen will ask you to sign the Final Report Form, which includes a record of used funds.

We also hope that you will attend our undergraduate research symposium, Meeting of the Minds, in early May and see your student(s) present.

Review a Draft

Students are strongly encouraged to work with their faculty mentor on their proposal, attend a Proposal Writing Workshop run by the OURSD (dates available on our main page,) and to meet with the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholar Development representatives at least once prior to submitting a SURG proposal to review a draft.

Committee Review:

Proposals are read and evaluated by a selection committee of faculty and staff representing all the colleges on campus. Four members of the committee will read each proposal, but only one of the readers will have some expertise generally in the field.  Students should target their proposals to a broader audience so that all readers can understand the research question, where it fits in the field, and the significance of the research.


Students and their mentors are notified of the committee's decisions, by e-mail, within a month of the SURG deadline. If a proposal is not funded, we try to give appropriate feedback so that the student can learn from the process. The committee may also request clarification of a proposal before making a funding decision.

Disbursement of Funds:

If a student is awarded a SURG grant, he or she can either be issued the funds directly by direct deposit, or the funds can be transferred to the faculty mentor's discretionaty account. By accepting the funds, students are agreeing to the conditions listed in the OURSD Funding Agreement form. Students are expected to manage the money, with advice from the faculty advisor. 

Contact us:

If you have any questions about these expectations or anything else about the SURG or ISURG programs, please feel free to contact the Director, Richelle Bernazzoli.