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2017 Call for Faculty Proposals

We are excited to invite faculty project proposals for the 2017 Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI) program. Proposals are due by 5 pm on Friday, February 10, 2017. The 2017 URSI summer research program will run for ten weeks for students, from May 31 to August 4, at Vassar College.

During the URSI program, faculty members mentor student URSI Fellows, selected by individual faculty. Successful projects engage the faculty mentor in an instructional and supervisory role, both for the duration of the summer project and in preparation for the URSI Symposium held during the academic year. Faculty are expected to meet regularly with their URSI fellow(s) during the summer. Projects must involve significant student participation and exposure to research methods of the discipline (i.e., not merely photocopying, word-processing, or filing) with the intension of creating a sense of ownership of the project by the student. URSI proposals can be submitted in collaboration with colleagues to encourage shared mentoring and scholarly pursuits.

Project selection will be based on the following criteria:

  • Proposals must be for research projects in the sciences or mathematics.
  • Faculty participants must be continuing members of the Vassar faculty (i.e., under contract for the following academic year).
  • Preference may be given to tenured or tenure-track faculty members.
  • Preference may be given to faculty members who did not participate in the URSI Program in the previous year.


  • Faculty: $1,100 split between the June and July paychecks
  • Students: $3,800, from which student pays for room and board
  • Research Supplies: up to $500 per project, regardless of the number of students being mentored. These funds MUST be spent by October 1, 2017 with no exception.

Throughout the summer, URSI Fellows will participate in required URSI events; faculty mentors are expected to allow time for their URSI fellow(s) to attend these events. Faculty are also expected to ensure that their URSI fellow(s) receives all safety training necessary for their proposed project. Finally, faculty are expected to advise their students on the requirements for URSI and the URSI Symposium. All student URSI fellows must serve as an author or co-author of an URSI abstract (due at the end of the summer) and of an URSI Symposium poster. URSI fellows who are on campus during the Fall are required to present or co-present their poster during the Symposium

Changes to the URSI Schedule for 2017:

This year's schedule has been changed in response to faculty feedback.

Students will be required to accept/decline their URSI fellowship on April 6, 2017. This deadline is much later in the semester than in summers past, which should give more time for students to hear back from external REU programs.

The first few days of URSI (Wed, May 31st - Fri, June 2nd) will be required for students but optional for faculty. During those first three days, students will participate in community-building activities and attend required workshops that have been previously spread throughout the summer. There will be some optional hours (TBD) for students to work in the lab during this three-day period. Whether or not each student will need to attend those hours will be at the discretion of each faculty mentor. However, the default will be that students begin working with faculty on Monday, June 5th. Additional information on these optional lab hours will be provided later this semester.

The last week of URSI (July 31st-August 4th) is also optional for faculty. During that week, the students will attend scientific communications workshops and will also work on their URSI abstracts and posters. Again, optional hours for students to work with faculty (TBD) will be made available, with student attendance at those hours based on the discretion of each faculty mentor.

Changes to the Project Selection Process:

Faculty may request more than one URSI-funded student. Approval of additional students is contingent upon the URSI budget and the number of proposals received. In response to faculty requests for additional opportunities to have more than one student funded by URSI, we are testing out a new system which will give priority for additional student requests to faculty who did not participate in URSI last year. This may eventually lead to a system in which faculty can "bank" student positions for a year or two to achieve a group of students rather than being limited to a single URSI student. We are not hosting an URSI Explorers group this year in order to allow for more faculty to have more than one URSI student.

Changes to the Faculty Proposal Form:

In response to faculty feedback, we have added a few questions to the proposal form. Faculty will now provide information for students detailing how they should show their interest in your project. This will increase the transparency for students and hopefully make the process more inclusive. We also are asking for a short description of your mentoring plan to help ensure that the summer experience is developmental for the students.

Some faculty may have already decided which student(s) they want for their project. This “pre-selection” of students is not encouraged as it reduces accessibility and inclusion. However, it may be necessary such as in the case when a student has been working on a long-term project that would benefit from their continued participation. We are asking faculty to declare if any students have been “pre-selected”. If so, you will be asked to provide their names and contact information. Any projects that have no available spots for the general student applicant pool will not be posted during the student application round. This change is in response to faculty feedback requesting more transparency for students so they know when applying to URSI which projects are actually available to them. Pre-selected students on proposed projects that are accepted will not go through the student application process. More information will be sent out on this once we know which projects have been approved.

You will have the option to “save and continue” your application by clicking the button at the bottom of the application. This will allow you to complete and revise your application in more than one sitting. Just make sure you hit the “submit” button once you are ready!