Summer research program hosts lectures for undergraduate students
The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program held guest speakers online for students, while offering a deadline to finish designated research projects in the upcoming fall semester due to coronavirus.
The SURF program provides a faculty-mentored research experience for students to submit a research proposal and spend the summer working full time on the project under the guidance of a UH faculty mentor over 10 weeks.
The SURF planning began back in January. Once the application for students to submit their research proposals closed, the schedule was laid out and faculty and staff were invited to speak to the students, associate director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards Brittni MacLeod said.
“My goal was to ensure that each week built on prior weeks or experiences that the students expressed in their applications,” MacLeod said.
When the University went remote in March, applicants were asked to provide a remote research plan and communication plan in the case that social distancing continued.
From the students’ perspectives, many of their plans changed dramatically, MacLeod said.
Mechanical engineering senior Benjamin Diaz Villa participated in SURF for the first time this year and focused his research on software programs.
“As an engineer, moving SURF online has not been that different from (other programs I participated in),” Diaz Villa said. “I deal with many software programs for my research that it does not make a difference whether I work at the University or from home.”
MacLeod said there are benefits from participating in SURF, such as receiving a $4,000 scholarship, individual mentoring from UH faculty, joining nationally competitive fellowships and major awards such as Fulbright and the chance to conduct their research projects.
“Overall, SURF is a very helpful summer research program that is giving me a head start for my upcoming Honors Thesis course this semester and my future Ph.D. in aerospace engineering,” Diaz Villa said.
Students are able to continue their research projects for Undergraduate Research Day in 2021.
“Research takes many forms and it is crucial that students from all disciplines know they can pursue this and regardless of whether they plan to go into industry or to graduate school, they will gain invaluable skills that they will carry forward,” MacLeod said.