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ASPB Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships Application 

Applications accepted January 19, 2021 - March 28, 2021 (11:59 PM ET)


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 all full-time undergraduate students in a degree-granting program. 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 2022 in Portland, OR 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.

Award Details - Successful applicants receive a $4,000 summer stipend, membership in ASPB, and $700 (paid to the mentor or institution) for materials and supplies. Each fellowship also provides a $575 stipend to support student travel to Plant Biology 2022, the ASPB annual meeting, to be held July 9-13, 2022, in Portland. 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 January- February 2021 (from college/university faculty who is not the mentor)
Submit SURF Application: by the deadline, March 28, 2021 (11:59 p.m. ET)
Look for Emailed Decisions: by mid/late-April 2021
Conduct Research: over 10 consecutive weeks when classes are not in session
Present Research: Plant Biology 2022
Applications will be accepted mid December
Need additional help? Winnie Nham, ASPB Education Coordinator (wnham@aspb.org)


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

Read all instructions on the forms and the online application carefully; accuracy counts. Questions? wnham@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:

Winnie Nham, ASPB Education Coordinator

American Society of Plant Biologists
15501 Monona Drive
Rockville, MD 20855
Email: wnham@aspb.org
Phone: 301-296-0902
Fax: 301-279-2996