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Make an Appointment Directory Give Faculty Students

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

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About the Experience

Fellows come from universities across Texas and the United States to spend 10 weeks in basic science laboratories as well as in the clinical research setting at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin. The goal of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) is to introduce the next generation of scientists to laboratory, translational and clinical research, and to spark an interest in a future cancer-related career.

Starting in 2021, SURF focuses on addressing the underrepresentation of certain backgrounds in medicine and science including women, Black Americans, African Americans, Hispanic people, Latinx people, first-generation college students and people with low income.

Students are paired with a cancer researcher at UT Austin or Dell Medical School to conduct an independent research project. At the end of the summer, SURF students present the findings of their research during a poster competition.

2021 Program Dates

  • Application opens: Oct. 20, 2020
  • Application, letter of recommendation and statements due: Feb. 1, 2021
  • Fellows notified of selection: March 1, 2021
  • First day of SURF: June 1, 2021
  • Poster session/end of program: Aug. 13, 2021
A Dell Med poster session.
A group of fellows.
A group of colleagues speaking.
Greg Lee speaking with colleagues.
Colleagues working.
A group of fellows.

Eligibility

Students from underrepresented groups in cancer and research and students who have served or are interested in serving communities with documented health disparities, including communities of color and communities that are socioeconomically disadvantaged, can apply to the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

The program accepts 20 students interested in working full time for 10 weeks in the summer. Fellowships are open to U.S. undergraduate college students who will be 18 years old by program orientation. The program is unable to accept foreign students without a U.S. student visa at this time.

Program Requirements

Accepted fellows are required to sign a Student Agreement committing them to the following requirements.

Orientation is held in the Health Discovery Building auditorium. This is a mandatory meeting for all fellows and covers program requirements, training requirements, stipends and more.

You are required to complete online training relevant to your individual research project prior to your arrival. You will be notified of these training requirements after you’ve been notified of your assigned laboratory and project.

With the help of your preceptor, you will write a two- to three-page, double-spaced report describing the goals of your research project. The report is due within 10 days of your start date. Your preceptor will also sign the report. When we receive the report, you will receive 50 percent of your stipend.

Fellows attend three lectures per week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, lectures focus on cancer types and research. Each Wednesday, lectures discuss professional tools that can help students from underrepresented backgrounds overcome challenges such as implicit bias, imposter syndrome, micro-aggressions and more. The lecture series is also an opportunity to build networks and interact with peers and leaders throughout the university.

All fellows participate in a poster session. If you are unable to attend the poster session, please contact Nick Smith-Stanley as soon as you know you have a conflict. After you participate in the poster session and exit survey, you will receive the balance of your stipend.

Any fellow who is unable to attend the poster session will be required to write a double-spaced report of at least five pages that describes your project’s results, due at the end of the fellowship. Your preceptor will sign the report. Once the report is received, along with the exit survey, you will receive the balance of your stipend.

Applicants will select three faculty members and projects they would like to work on during the fellowship. Program leaders will make every effort to assign an applicant to their first choice but may need to make alternative assignments based on availability. These cancer projects range from clinical to more basic-science-type research. Because of the limited number of clinical research opportunities, applicants should not limit their selection to clinical preceptors. See the projects and preceptors below.

Projects & Preceptors

Applicants select three preceptors/projects they would like to work on during the fellowship and note them on the application. Projects are located on The University of Texas at Austin campus as well as the Dell Medical School and the Dell Pediatric Research Institute. Click on the preceptor’s name to learn more about their research.

Clinical Research

R. Nick Bryan, M.D., Ph.D.

Diagnostics (Dell Medical School)

Shelli Kessler, Ph.D.

Nursing and Oncology (UT Austin)

Jeanne Kowalski, Ph.D.

Oncology (Dell Medical School)

Lailea Noel, Ph.D.

Social Work (UT Austin)

Robin Richardson

Oncology (Dell Medical School)

Basic Research

Myriem Boufraqech, Ph.D.

Molecular Biosciences (UT Austin)

Anna Capasso, Ph.D.

Oncology (Dell Medical School)

Zhengrong Cui, Ph.D.

Pharmacy (UT Austin)

Daniel Dickinson, Ph.D.

Molecular Biosciences (UT Austin)

John DiGiovanni, Ph.D.

Pharmacy (UT Austin)

Livia Eberlin, Ph.D.

Chemistry (UT Austin)

Lauren Ehrlich, Ph.D.

Molecular Biosciences (UT Austin)

Winson Ho, M.D.

Neurosurgery (Dell Medical School)

John Kuo, M.D.

Neuro-oncology (Dell Medical School)

Olivia Lu, Ph.D.

Neurosurgery (Dell Medical School)

William Matsui, M.D.

Oncology (Dell Medical School)

Kyle Miller, Ph.D.

Molecular Biosciences (UT Austin)

Tanya Paull, Ph.D.

Molecular Biosciences (UT Austin)

John Powers, Ph.D.

Pediatrics (Dell Medical School)

Todd Triplett, Ph.D.

Oncology (Dell Medical School)

Carla Van Den Berg, Pharm.D.

Oncology (Dell Medical School)

Karen Vasquez, Ph.D.

Pharmacy (UT Austin)

Evan Wang, Ph.D.

Biomedical Engineering (UT Austin)

Urbain Weyemi, Ph.D.

Molecular Biosciences (UT Austin)

Blerta Xhemalce, Ph.D.

Molecular Biosciences (UT Austin)

Stephen Yi, Ph.D.

Oncology (Dell Medical School)

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any other questions, please contact Nick Smith-Stanley, associate director for finance and administration.

The fellowship starts June 1 and ends Aug. 13, 2021.

Yes. Fellows are expected to work full time in the labs and in seminars. Other work commitments or classes are not advised.

Yes. Fellows get a stipend of $3,500, paid in two installments of 50 percent through direct deposit as they complete the program.

No. Fellows are required to find and pay for their own living arrangements during the program.

Currently, the program plans to hold SURF on campus at UT Austin as in years prior to COVID-19. If something changes that does not allow the program to continue in person or at all, you will be contacted by the program coordinators.