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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.

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 2020, the ASPB annual meeting, to be held July 25-29, 2020, in Washington DC. These travel funds are sent only to the 2019 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.

Preferred Qualifications

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.

tudents 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 2020 in Washington, DC 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.

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, 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.


Research Offering Type

Grant, Research Assistant





Contact Information

Winnie Nham, ASPB Education Coordinator

American Society of Plant Biologists
15501 Monona Drive
Rockville, MD 20855
Phone: 301-296-0902
Fax: 301-279-2996