A young man wearing a Cincinnati Zoo uniform shirt and ID holds a snake.

It’s time for undergraduates to explore summer research opportunities

A student transfers information from scientific instruments to a form on a clipboard. In the background, another student is measuring something in a holding tank.

Faculty are being asked for future teaching commitments and textbook orders, and students are in the thick of registration for spring semester. The next step? Begin planning for summer research in 2016. Summer is perfect for dedicating time to and making serious headway on research projects, if one is sufficiently prepared. The deadline for applications to Miami’s signature Undergraduate Summer Scholars program is the first week of the spring term, so advance planning is essential on the part of both faculty members and students to successfully apply for this award. Similar early spring application deadlines abound for other competitive summer research opportunities all over the country. The Office of Research for Undergraduates (ORU) coordinates with the Howe Writing Center to assist students in preparing competitive application materials for these and other programs. The ORU coordinates with the Howe Writing Center to assist students in preparing competitive application materials for these and other programs. The ORU coordinates with the Howe Writing Center to assist students in preparing competitive application materials for these and other programs. 

Undergraduate Summer Scholars (USS)

The USS program is open to Miami students in all disciplines who are completing their sophomore or junior years. Summer Scholars work with full-time tenured or tenure-eligible faculty for a 9-week period over the summer. Participants register for six hours of summer research credits (for which they receive tuition waivers). Faculty mentors receive $400 in project funding as well as an additional $600 for expenses or professional development, and students receive $2,600 fellowships. Detailed information can be found in the USS program guidelines.

Students and faculty mentors should begin working together now to develop and polish ideas for application to this competitive but rewarding research experience. The submission deadline for students to submit application materials to department or program offices is January 29, 2016. Note that some departments may require earlier deadlines since departmental review must be completed and submitted to the ORU by the following week. The ORU determines the allocation of 100 awards across departments and programs based on the distribution of applicants, whereas the relative merits of individual applications are assessed within departments and programs to determine recipients.

The ORU highly encourages faculty and students from all disciplines to apply; any department or program submitting applications is provided one or more of these awards!

Drop-in informational sessions will be available over the next few weeks for students interested in applying for one of these prestigious awards. Sessions will be held from 9:00am to 10:00am and 2:00pm to 3:00pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, sessions will be held from 11:00am to noon and 3:30pm to 4:30 pm.

Other summer research opportunities

The ORU provides links to hundreds of other summer undergraduate research opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines at a number of institutions all over the country. For example, there are over 600 NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates in dozens of disciplines, including two here at Miami: one in the ecology of human-dominated landscapes and one in chemistry and biochemistry.

The ORU maintains a list of additional opportunities such as those at the Centers for Disease Control, Mayo Clinic, American Bar Foundation, MIT, Cal Tech, New England Conservatory of Music, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Newberry Library, and many more. Also included is the Summer Research Opportunities Program sponsored jointly by the major research universities of the Big Ten.

Finally, there are even opportunities to combine research experiences with travel abroad. EuroScholars offers a unique opportunity for research at top international institutions in the sciences, arts, and humanities. While this program is not specifically for the summer, it has rolling admission, with a six-month advance application recommended (April 1 is the final deadline for Fall 2016 experiences).


Questions about any of the programs mentioned here — and many others — can be answered by ORU staff. Drop by our office on the first floor of King Library or send us an email at UndergradResearch@MiamiOH.edu. In addition, many summer internships can be found in Career Services’ discipline-specific search databases.

Written by Joe Johnson, Director, Office of Research for Undergraduates (ORU), Miami University.

Pond sampling photo by Jeff Sabo, Miami University Communications & Marketing. Zoo photo by Scott Kissell, Miami University Communications & Marketing.


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