Student Research Fellowship FAQ
Undergraduate research experiences in general allow you to gain skills in critical thinking, scientific writing, and professional presentations, skills that enhance your employability and strengthen your applications for graduate study. The skills gained through research experiences can be gained from any type of intensive research experience. However, the full-time summer fellowships provide the opportunity to get immersed in research without the distraction of classes or other activities. Summer research experiences may be best for you if you are considering graduate study that involves research, but no matter your future educational plans you are encouraged to consider this valuable opportunity.
Each of the colleges that make up the University of New England offers its own students funding for research experiences but the amount of the funding and the method used to apply for those funds may be different. As a WCHP undergraduate, you must apply for a WCHP Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, however, your intended advisor may be from any UNE college.
The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships are full-time research experiences so you work a minimum of 40 hours a week. Some research requires that you work during hours other than a typical office schedule and the hours may change from day-to-day. Therefore, it is typically not feasible to hold a second job at the same time.
If, after speaking to former Fellows and visiting professors’ laboratories, you are unable to decide whether you should participate in the program or get another job for the summer, consider the following perspective offered by previous undergraduate researchers:
“If you are torn between a good summer job and this opportunity, ask yourself whether or not you are considering graduate school. If the answer is yes, take the research job. It gives a first-hand look at what graduate school will be like.”
“I regard first-hand experience in research as a benefit to one's educational background, regardless of whether one is contemplating graduate school or not. I think appropriate questions concerning this decision are:
- What do I want to accomplish at UNE?
- How do I get a jump on the competition when I apply for a job?
- What does a potential employer want besides good grades?"
At this time, we can award up to six Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships.
Summer Research Fellowships are typically awarded to students who have completed their freshman, sophomore, and junior years. However, if you are a senior who plans to continue on to a graduate program at UNE, you may be considered for funding under compelling circumstances. For consideration, please contact Katy Rudolph, PT, Ph.D., associate dean for research and coordinator of WCHP Undergraduate Research at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You negotiate the number of weeks of the Fellowship, as well as the start and end dates with your research mentor. As a general rule, the fellowship should fall within the start and end dates of the academic summer sessions.
You are permitted to work around important planned events. However, the Fellowship Stipend will be paid only during the time that you are on campus working on the research. Therefore, if you were to take a one-week vacation in the middle of a ten-week Fellowship (and that was approved by the Advisor) you should reduce the number of weeks to nine or adjust the start and end dates accordingly.
Vacations and other family events are equally important for faculty! However, the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships use an apprenticeship model of training so it is important that the faculty member, or equally qualified individual, be available to mentor you if the faculty member is going to be away for more than a few days. If no such individual is available, you should adjust your Fellowship duration and start-end dates to adjust for the mentor's absence from campus.
Applications are reviewed by a Review Committee made up of faculty with active research programs and those who have mentored Undergraduate Research Fellows in the past. Characteristics used in the evaluation include things like:
- Your academic performance to date
- Reason for wanting to have an undergraduate research Fellowship
- Quality of the writing in the application (organization, grammar, clarity, etc.)
- Evidence of a strong relationship between you and the mentor
Now, you might be thinking: "How the heck can a committee evaluate the strength of a relationship from a written application?" Here is how: Part of the application is completed by you. In order for you to demonstrate a good understanding of the proposed research topic and methods that would be used during the Fellowship, you must spend time with the mentor and on your own to learn about the research. A well-written research description demonstrates a strong basic knowledge of the topic that is formed when you and your mentor put time into the process together.