Carnegie Mellon University

Information for SURF Faculty Mentors

Faculty Submission Deadline for Summer 2024 SURF: Sunday, Fenruary 25, 2024 (11:59 pm)

Every student who applies for a SURF must have a faculty mentor to oversee his or her project. We expect that mentors of SURF students will have substantial contact with the student during the course of their summer research. Please note: as the SURF competition has grown more competitive, the letter of recommendation from the mentor assumes more importance. Your recommendation can make an important difference.

Faculty Mentors:

-give feedback to the student as she or he drafts the SURF proposal
-writes a letter of recommendation to the OURSD selection committee to accompany the student's grant proposal.

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.

The letter of recommendation also states that the proposed project is feasible and worthwhile and that the student is capable of pursuing the research.

Once a student completes an application form for SURF 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.

Please see information from Enhancing Education at Carnegie Mellon.

The mentor will also sign off on the Final Report Form upon completion of the project.

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

Review of 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 URO homepage,) and to meet with an Office of  Undergraduate Research and Scholar Development representative at least once prior to submitting a SURF proposal to review a draft.

Committee Review:

SURF 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 propodals to a broader audience so that all readers can understand the research question and the significance of the proposed research.


Students and their mentors are notified of the selection committee's decisions by email within a month of the SURF proposal deadline.

Disbursement of Funds:

If a student is awarded a SURF, the funds are dispersed to students on a bi-weekly pay schedule, minus applicable taxes. The faculty mentor and business manager will each need to sign a copy of the student's contract upon acceptance of the fellowship stipend. The business managers and mentors will sign off on the students' timecards and process in Workday. The stipend is intended for full-time research (37.5 hours per week) at the rate of $15.00 per hour, working 300 hours over the course of the summer, with an estimated total compensation of $4500. Students will not be compensated from the OURSD beyond the $4500 maximum or beyond the established 300 hour maximum.  If you have any question about this procedure, please contact Jen Weidenhof, Business Administrator and Operations Coordinator of the Undergradutate Research Office: 8-2637.

Contact Us:

If you have any questions about these expectations or anything else about the Summer Research Fellowship program, please feel free to contact our office.