SURF Program on Community Based Research (SURF-CBR)

      SURF Program on Community Based Research (SURF-CBR)

      Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program in Community Based Research

      The UW-Whitewater School of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education, in partnership with the Undergraduate Research Program; awards up to four Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships in Community Based Research (SURF-CBR) of $3,500 each to support community-based research in the state of Wisconsin.  In addition, up to $500 funding for supplies, services and travel expenses may be available.  Mentors of selected research fellows will receive a summer stipend of $2,500. Interdisciplinary projects that consider the intersecting roles of diversity and sustainability are particularly encouraged. For example, projects may explore how environmental stressors (such as climate change, fracking, mining, chemical pollutants, etc.) disproportionately impact vulnerable populations or how vulnerable communities are rallying to creatively seek solutions.  Such projects may receive additional support (e.g., in the form of increased mentor stipend, research budget, etc.) from the College of Letters and Sciences, pending approval from the Dean and commitment to present project results at the Fall 2016 Diversity Forum.

      The SURF-CBR grants provide opportunities for students to develop research projects that apply their academic skills, experiences, and ideas to real world problems.  All academic fields are eligible.  These grants are designed to give students the time and resources needed for meaningful reflection and in-depth inquiry into a problem or issue in collaboration with a faculty mentor and community organization that addresses a documented public need.

      Community-based research is defined as "a partnership of students, faculty, and community members who collaboratively engage in research with the purpose of solving a pressing community problem or effecting social change."  Successful proposals should therefore :

      • Exemplify collaborative, reciprocal processes that respect and value the knowledge, perspective, and resources shared among partners.  Community members or agencies must play an integral role in defining the research question and objectives as well as how to manage the research project. Students must demonstrate on on-going collaborative relationship with the community partner that began prior to the proposed fellowship and that will continue during the 2015-2016 academic school year.
      • Serve a public purpose and assist in building the capacity of the each group or organization involved to understand and collaboratively address issues of public concern.
      • Demonstrate that the UW-Whitewater faculty mentor and student researcher are committed to utilizing their expertise to develop and implement a successful project and clearly articulate what student researchers will learn in the process.
      • Plans to evaluate the impact of the community based research project.
      • Disseminate the results of the project to the community agency or group involved in the study.

      For more details, please consult the FAQ section. For suggestions on how to compose a successful proposal, please consult this guide.


      • UW-Whitewater Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors as of Fall 2015 who are enrolled full time through Spring 2016
      • Students do not get course credit for their summer projects
      • Minimum GPA of 3.0 in major and minor (exceptions may be made on a case by case basis; mentor's letter must address the reason for exemption)

      Application Process

      In order to apply for the SURF Program, you will need to apply via our online submission process. Applications must be submitted to the Review Room. Please note that a complete application consists of:

      • A completed application form
      • A copy of the student's Degree Progress Report
      • Summer Research Fellowship Proposal (no more than 1200 words, or approximately 4 pages double - spaced)
      • Timetable of project activities
      • Proposed itemized budget for supplies, services, and travel with a justification of how you will spend these funds and why they are necessary on a separate page
      • Two Confidential Letters of Recommendation
        • At least one Letter of Recommendation should be from the proposed UW-Whitewater faculty mentor.  This letter should address their assessment of the student's project and ability to complete the project, the mentor's commitment to supervise this project, and the experience of the mentors in supervising student research and/or creative inquiry projects.
        • The second Letter of Recommendation must be from the proposed community partner and should clearly state the willingness of the partner to collaborate in this research project as well as the students' prior collaboration with the community partner.

      The proposal should be as specific as you can make it as it will be read by School of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education and the URP Council members with some knowledge of your field.  It must outline what you plan to do and why it addresses important public concerns.  The outline consists of the research design (what you propose to do, the methodology for the research, how you will analyze the results, etc.) how the work meets the need of your community partner, how you will accomplish this project during the summer and how you will evaluate its results (this last section should align with your proposed timetable of project activities).  Your proposal should also address how, and if, this project will continue during the 2015-2016 school year and how it contributes to your future career or post-graduate studies plans.  Below we list a couple of examples of past SURF-CBR projects:

      Example 1

      Example 2

      Summer Fellows Expectations

      • Fellows will devote 10 weeks of full time effort (40 hours per week) to their project. If they hold any other employment or take any courses during the period of their fellowship they must submit a separate document by May 15th detailing their summer obligations and how they will fulfill the goals of their fellowship. This document must be approved by their project mentor and the director of URP.
      • Fellows will prepare and maintain a research portfolio for the duration of the fellowship and submit it to the Undergraduate Research Program by Sept. 1, 2015.
      • Fellows will complete an evaluation of their fellowship experience by early September 2015.
      • Students will also be expected to present the results of their research at Fall 2015 Undergraduate Research Day and Spring 2016 Undergraduate Research Day.

      Selection Process

      Applications will be reviewed by members of the Undergraduate Research Program and a representative from the School of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education. The selection committee will evaluate fellowship applications on the following criteria and will also consider representation of different disciplines among the supported summer fellowships (The review committee may ask select applicants to provide revised proposals before further evaluations are made):

      The selection committee will evaluate fellowship applications on the following criteria:


      Number of Points

      Applicant demonstrates that the project is feasible and meets identified community needs.

      20 points

      Applicant demonstrates that they will acquire significant new skills or experiences as a result of this project.

      15 points

      Applicant presents a clear and compelling case for how the fellowship will allow them to continue their Undergraduate Research during the 2015-2016 academic school year and how this summer fellowship will contribute to their career or post-graduate study plans.

      15 points

      Applicant demonstrates that they can successfully complete the 10 week fellowship.

      10 points

      Applicant is prepared for the fellowship (coursework, experience, understanding of community based research principles).

      10 points

      Letters of support from the applicant's mentor and proposed community partner attest to the merit of this project.

      10 points

      Mentor letter demonstrates enthusiasm, appropriate experience and time commitment to supervise this project.

      20 points

      The application process is currently closed.

      Please address any questions to Seth Meisel, Associate Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education, or Catherine Chan, Director, Undergraduate Research Program,

      All interested applicants are strongly encouraged to attend the first informational meeting with Seth Meisel in the Andersen Library 2115 on Monday, TBD. 


      Undergraduate Research Program
      University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
      800 W. Main Street
      2115 Andersen Library
      Whitewater, WI 53190
      (262) 472-1296


      Professor Catherine Chan
      Director of Undergraduate Research
      (262) 472-1296

      UWW URP Student Org