Summer Undergraduate Research Experience

Program Overview

The Summer Undergraduate Research Experience provides an intensive research experience for students working one-on-one with a faculty mentor. Students receive training in the research methods applicable to their specific project, employ critical analysis, and create written and oral presentations of their results.

The Council of Undergraduate Research defines undergraduate research as: An inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.

It is expected that each project:

  • Produces a significant, high-impact student learning experience
  • Has well-defined objectives and methods
  • Requires engagement with the disciplinary literature
  • Involves both oral and written presentation of information

Student Expectations

  • Each student will work closely with a faculty mentor on a research project 20–40 hours per week for 8 weeks (or the equivalent) unless agreed upon by the student and faculty member and approved at the time of project acceptance. Students working full-time on research projects are advised not to enroll in more than 1 summer course and should not have any other significant work or volunteer commitments. Ultimately, students and faculty mentors must discuss project commitment requirements prior to proposal submission.
  • Students will attend 6–8 interdisciplinary meetings. If faculty and/or students will not be on campus for these meetings, they will participate to the equivalent level in an online interdisciplinary research group (schedule TBA).
  • Each student will present the results of their research (either by delivering an oral presentation or participating in a poster session) at Westminster’s Undergraduate Conference in the academic year. They are also encouraged to present at other regional and/or national conferences.

Student Grants

Summer 2021 undergraduate research grants are available for students conducting research projects with Westminster faculty. Any Westminster student is eligible to apply if they will be enrolled as an undergraduate at Westminster in the fall of 2021. 

The program provides students grants up to $3,000 paid hourly in increments every 2 weeks for research conducted over the 8-week summer session. Hourly wages are set by Student Employment. Grants are contingent upon funding availability, eligibility of the project, satisfactory progress, and participation in interdisciplinary research support meetings.

Various programs, including the Gore Math/Science Endowment, the Eskuche Fund, the Environmental Studies program, the Great Salt Lake Institute, the Dee Foundation, the Martin Fund, the Provost's Office, and the W.M. Keck Foundation support the grants.

The Teaching, Learning, and Resource faculty committee will consider all project proposals and make recommendations concerning the awarding of funds. Projects eligible for grants allow a student and Westminster faculty member to work collaboratively during the summer. Students may approach a potential faculty mentor with a specific research topic in mind or ask a potential faculty mentor to suggest possible research projects that would be appropriate. In either case, a mutual agreement between the student and potential faculty mentor regarding general project goals must be identified prior to submission of an application.

Faculty Stipends and Mentoring Models

Faculty are awarded a stipend based on the faculty responsibilities, including the mentoring model, identified in the proposal. Funding amounts within the ranges listed for each mentoring model are determined by the total number of submissions received, faculty self-report of effort, and number of students supervised. Any faculty awarded stipends must participate in weekly interdisciplinary research meetings based on their particular field of study. A project’s mentoring model dictates meeting attendance and participation. There are 3 mentoring models. Faculty and/or students working remotely must commit to the equivalent meeting time and style for any of these models using appropriate technology (Microsoft Teams, etc.).

  • Independent Researcher Model: The faculty mentor periodically advises the student on a project that is by and large the student's idea and effort. Minimum of bi-weekly student/mentor meetings. Faculty attends and participates in a minimum of 2 interdisciplinary meetings. Stipends range from $500–$1,000.
  • Part-Time Student-Faculty Team Model: The faculty mentor is a collaborator engaged in the project along with a student(s) providing consistent, but periodic, supervision and feedback on the work and/or ideas. Minimum of weekly student/mentor meetings. Faculty attends and participates in a minimum of 4 interdisciplinary meetings. Stipends range from $1,000–$2,000.
  • Full-Time Student-Faculty Team Model: The faculty mentor is a collaborator engaged in the project along with the student(s) providing consistent supervision, multiple times a week (e.g., due to difficult technical or safety needs) and feedback on the work and/or ideas. Faculty attends and participates in a minimum of 6 interdisciplinary meetings. Stipends range from $2,000–$3,000.

Proposal Details

To be considered for a grant, a project proposal must be submitted using the online form. The proposal should be a collaborative effort between the student and faculty member, but the faculty mentor must be the one to submit the form. If a faculty mentor plans to work with multiple students, they should submit 1 application per student. It may be helpful to compose and edit responses first by using a word processor and then cutting and pasting responses into the text boxes in the online form. There is no "Save Draft" function; once you click "Submit" your application will be submitted. All applications will be evaluated to make sure the information provided meets evaluation criteria where necessary.

Submitted proposal forms must:

  • Address each of the following in text:
    • Explain how the project will meet the research goals and outcomes. Information provided should meet the following evaluation criteria:
      • Well-defined objectives and methods
      • Substantial contact with the literature
      • Potential for original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline

Note: If the research project is a student-initiated, independent project the student should work with the faculty member to provide a project overview (the faculty member will include this in the proposal) that also addresses the research outcomes.

    • Describe the nature of the student responsibilities and activities in the project.
    • Explain how the project will meet the expected student learning outcomes. Information provided should meet the following evaluation criteria:
      • Positive student learning outcomes, emphasizing 1 or more College-Wide Learning Goals
      • Training in the research methods and analysis applicable to the specific project
      • Both oral and written presentation of information
      • Clearly communicated purpose
      • Project evaluation and feedback plan from faculty mentor
    • Describe the nature of the faculty responsibilities in the project. This must include an evaluation and feedback plan.
  • If applicable, provide a checklist detailing the institutional support (funds, materials, human resources) required beyond the funding you would receive if the request were approved. A separate text box has been provided for this.
  • Include a selection indicating each of the following:
    • The mentoring model that best describes the work being done with the student
    • The field of study (science and math, social and behavioral sciences, fine arts and humanities, or professional)
    • Whether or not the project pertains to the Great Salt Lake
    • Whether or not the project pertains to environmental studies
  • Include student-provided answers to the following 3 questions, which should meet the evaluation criteria detailed for each:
    • What is the primary reason you are interested in conducting research and participating in this summer undergraduate research program?
      • Evaluation Criteria: The student's answer demonstrates an understanding of scholarship in their field and its value to their education.
    • What are your research interests and skills that are relevant to this research project? You can include any past research experience where appropriate.
      • Evaluation Criteria: The student's answer demonstrates some specific interest and some research or research-related experience.
    • What are your post-graduation plans? How will your participation in this research program help with these plans?
      • Evaluation Criteria: The student's answer demonstrates an understanding of how research fits into their career plans.

Application

Deadline for Submission: March 5, 2021

Notification: April 6, 2021