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ASPB Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships Application 

Applications accepted December 11, 2023 - February 12, 2024 (11:59 PM EST)


   Apply Now!   


The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) fund promising undergraduate students so they can conduct research in plant biology during the early part of their college careers. SURF recipients must present their research at ASPB’s annual Plant Biology meeting in the year following the fellowship award.

Eligibility - Application is open to full-time undergraduate students in their freshman, sophomore, or junior year in a degree-granting program. Seniors are ineligible for a SURF. Students completing their second year are preferred, but well-prepared first- and third-year students who provide evidence of a strong interest in plant biology may apply also. Undergraduates needing more or less than the standard four years to earn a degree may still be eligible. International students or students following non-traditional academic calendars are welcome. In order to provide support to the maximum number of students, SURF awards are limited to those without other sources of stipend or salary for the proposed research. It is acceptable, however, to have supplemental funding for room and board.

Faculty Mentors - Students must secure a mentor before submitting an application. The proposed research project must be pursued in the mentor’s laboratory. Mentors must be a member of ASPB, have an ongoing research program of high scientific merit, and demonstrate a commitment to undergraduate education and research. Mentors are expected to attend Plant Biology 2025 in Milwaukee, WI, with their SURF student.

Need a Mentor? Students may work with a mentor at their own institution or at another institution. Additional guidance is available by contacting ASPB (see below).

Application - A complete application will include a research project statement and personal statement from the student, a research and mentoring statement from the mentor, a letter of recommendation from another faculty member (not the mentor or in the mentor’s lab), and undergraduate transcripts.

Selection Criteria - Competitive student applicants should have high academic achievement, strong motivation and skills for conducting research, and career objectives showing interest in or close relevancy to plant biology. Reviewers also will consider the contribution of the project to the mentor’s research program, institutional commitment to the proposed research, and the mentor’s commitment to undergraduate research. In addition, as the goal of the SURF program is to fund students and faculty mentors that will have the most significant impact on plant science, the financial needs of the lab are a factor considered in distinguishing between the top competitive applicants. 

Award Details - Successful applicants receive a $6,000 summer stipend, membership in ASPB, and $700 (paid to the mentor or institution) for materials and supplies. Each fellowship also provides a stipend to support student travel to Plant Biology 2025, the ASPB annual meeting, to be held July 26-30, 2025, in Milwaukee. These travel funds are sent only to the SURF recipients who 1) register for the meeting (free to student), 2) submit proof of using social media or other outlets to engage the public or peers about the SURF project, and 3) author and submit an abstract (free to student) about their SURF project to present as a poster at the meeting, including at the Undergraduate Poster Session.

- A Successful SURF Applicant’s Sample Timeline -
Contact potential mentors: NOW
Discuss research topics: NOW
Request a Letter of Recommendation: by December 2023 - January 2024 (from college/university faculty who is not the mentor)
Submit SURF Application: by the deadline, February 12, 2024 (11:59 p.m. ET)
Look for Emailed Decisions: by mid March 2024
Conduct Research: over 10 consecutive weeks when classes are not in session
Present Research: Plant Biology 2025


There are four parts of the Application. Access them by clicking on the four links below. Save everything to your computer to complete and edit for uploading.

  • Student Information - uploaded by student-applicant in a COMBINED file with Mentor Information
  • Mentor Information - uploaded by student-applicant/mentor in a COMBINED file with Student Information
  • Letter of Recommendation - uploaded by the author; see online application for complete instructions
  • UNOFFICIAL Transcript(s) - uploaded by student-applicant; see online application for complete instructions
  • Download the detailed rubric for proposed research
  • Download the detailed rubric for lab environment: mentor’s experience

Read all instructions on the forms and the online application carefully; accuracy counts.
If instructions are not followed, application will be rejected without review. Questions? slee@aspb.org


You must upload only one combined file for the Student Information and the Mentor Information.

  • Be mindful of the page limits noted in the directions (see links above). Some circumstances may require you to add extra pages in certain sections.
  • Embed any images or special fonts into your file.
  • We strongly prefer PDF (*.pdf) files, but will accept MS Word documents (*.doc, *.docx).
  • Include file extensions (i.e. .pdf) at the end of your file name. Only use alpha-numeric characters in your file name.

Saving/Editing/Finalizing Your Application

  • Select SAVE to be able to return and edit/change elements at any time until the deadline.
  • Only select SAVE & FINALIZE when you are completely done as this option permanently locks your application.
Questions? Contact:

Sylvia Lee, Executive and Governance Affairs Administrator
American Society of Plant Biologists
15501 Monona Drive
Rockville, MD 20855
Email: slee@aspb.org
Phone: (301) 296-0898