Summer Research Program

Student presenting at 2019 Summer Research Conference

Occidental College 2019 Summer Research Program Dates: May 28-August 3. 20th Anniversary Summer Conference: July 31.

Read about the 2019 conference and download program information and schedules from recent past conferences:

2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016


The objectives of the summer research program at Occidental are to:

  • Sponsor faculty/student collaborative research
  • Provide an academic alternative to nonacademic summer jobs
  • Increase students' preparation for leadership roles in professions and/or public service
  • Create an intellectual community, with opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange
  • Enrich the academic experience of our most capable and promising students
  • Encourage good students, especially students from under-represented groups, to consider careers in the scholarly professions

We are pleased to announce fellowship opportunities for students working in any area of study. Support is provided by the College and by endowments, grants, and gifts from many sources. The program is highly selective, and some preference is given to students who are completing their junior year, and have had no prior summer fellowship support. Factors considered during the selection process are:

  • The quality of the proposal
  • The strength of faculty support
  • An effective personal statement
  • An academic history consistent with the ability to do the proposed research

Summer research fellows will receive a study grant for ten weeks of research. Study grants will be paid out in 4 installments over the course of 10 weeks. Exact payment dates will be listed on your contract if you are selected to participate in this program. Depending on financial need, fellows who choose to live on campus will be charged a fee per week to cover the costs of the housing and meal plan copay. Generally, the amount awarded for summer research is taxable, but the College is not obligated to withhold taxes or send a 1099, so students should retain a copy of their study grant contract as part of their tax records. Since individual tax liability depends on each individual's circumstances, Fellows should contact their personal tax advisor with any questions or concerns.


Opportunities for Fellows working on different projects to meet together and close collaboration between Fellow and faculty mentor are essential features of the program. To promote discussion among student researchers, regular meetings of fellows in affiliated disciplines will be organized by the faculty area coordinators. Cross-disciplinary exchange will be facilitated by the scheduling of lunchtime plenary gatherings, featuring guest speakers, lab tours and round table discussion. To ensure the success of these events and in keeping with the objectives of the program, independent projects with remote faculty supervision will not be supported. Community-based projects are encouraged, but students must be doing actual research (not fulfilling the terms of an internship) and must arrange their schedules in order to be on campus for weekly luncheons, area group meetings and mentor-arranged meetings.

Requirements of the program are as follows:

  • a full-time exclusive commitment by Fellows for the entire stated ten-week program period (except in very unusual circumstances, late starts and early departures will not be allowed)
  • participation in research ethics training -- in-person at our ethics seminar and through completion of an online certification program
  • participation in all area meetings and plenary gatherings
  • regular on-campus meetings with the mentor  
  • participation in the assessment effort 
  • submission of an abstract of the work
  • submission of a five to ten page final report to the URC and to the faculty mentor before receipt of the final study grant payment. (Note: Faculty members may require a longer report. In such cases, the URC will accept a copy of that report. You will not need to write two reports).
  • presentation of the results at the Oxy Summer Research Conference
  • if appropriate, presentation at the fall SCCUR conference. Fellows may also consider presenting their work at the spring NCUR meeting or othe national conferences. The URC may be able to award funding for conference travel presentations.

In addition, there is an expectation that all Fellows will have and maintain high academic and social standing.  Applicants should note that their grade report and personal conduct record will be reviewed as part of the application process.

Although the SRP is primarily an on-campus residential program, we do have funding available to support a limited number of summer research projects involving travel:

Students with SRP projects involving short-term travel will be considered for the SRP program -- this a significant change from prior years when only faculty-funded student travel was allowed. However, students with travel plans lasting more than a couple weeks will not be accepted to the SRP program since it remains primarily residential in nature.  Students who want to incorporate international travel into their SRP proposal should use the regular SRP cover sheet and go through the regular application process, but should list all travel costs in the budget section of their proposal package. Students selected for international travel will have to comply with the IPO International Travel Policy before funds can be awarded.

Please note:

  • Funds are limited.
  • Students selected for the SRP with a travel component will need to comply with the college's clearance process (usually one month prior to departure) before they can travel.
  • Application to and selection by the URC's SRP committee is still required.

In some cases, students will be allowed to take shorter trips during the summer with faculty for field work or research assistance outside of the summer research program.  These trips are supported by the new Faculty-Led Richter program, which is run by the college's International Programs Office.  These trips are planned for two - three weeks.  The Faculty-Led Richter program has it's own application deadlines. Please check with IPO for more information; this program is not administered by the URC.  If students desire more travel time over the summer, or to travel independently, they are encouraged to apply to the Richter or Young Fund or other programs.

Summer Research funding is available from a variety of programs, each of which has specific requirements and conditions.
Proposals will be considered for all programs for which they qualify and students will be notified of the source of their funding.



If you would like to apply for one of these grants, you should develop an outline of your project and approach a faculty member with whom you would like to work to discuss the feasibility of collaborating with her or him over the summer.  Only tenure-track and continuing non tenure-track faculty who will be on-campus during the summer are eligible to serve as mentors. Many faculty prefer that student research be closely aligned with their own work.

After you and your potential faculty mentor have agreed to apply for fellowship support, begin your application packet. Applications from students who have failed to submit final reports or other required materials from previous URC grants (ASP, SRP, etc.) will not be accepted.

  • Application cover sheet. It is a fillable PDF form. Make sure to fill it in completely before printing. You may need to need to download and install the free Adobe Acrobat reader in order to be able to fill it in via Adobe Acrobat.
  • Proposals should describe the work you propose to do, the methods you propose to use, tell why it is important, and review the results of prior investigations by you or other investigators. Proposals should begin with a 1-paragraph abstract, not more than 250 words.  Literature citations should be included where appropriate (for tables and figures as well as quotes). The proposal should be written to be understandable to a non-specialist. (3-4 pages). 
  • The personal statement should indicate your preparation [for example, course work] to undertake the project, and how this fellowship fits with your educational and career plans. (1-2 pages)
  • The budget with justification is required if support for supplies, local travel, etc. is requested. Research expense support will be limited; please bear this in mind as you discuss the feasibility of your project. (1 page)
  • If your SRP proposal includes travel,  you should include a timeline for the work and travel. We need to know when you propose to travel and how many total weeks you envision the project lasting. What is your time frame for data collection, data analysis, translations (if needed), writing a final paper,  etc! Will you require housing for the remainder of the summer program after your return from the travel portion of your project? All of that information should appear on the timeline. Would it be possible to complete your project without a travel component? If so, please state that fact and include an alternate budget.

Check out our Get Support page for more detailed info on the application requirements.

Application cover sheet, project proposal (including 1 paragraph abstract), personal statement, and budget are due in the URC office by 4:00 p.m. on February 10, 2020. All materials submitted as part of the application must use 8.5" x 11" paper, single sided, with 1" margins using Times New Roman or Arial type font no smaller than 11 point and at least 1.5 line spacing. List last name on upper right hand corner of each page in your application. Paper clip together -- PLEASE DO NOT STAPLE!

Your faculty mentor’s recommendation form must include a description of her/his role in mentoring you in your project. Mentors are expected to be available to the Fellow on a continuing basis, to meet regularly with them, and to provide support and guidance in carrying out the research project and preparing a final report, poster, or other culminating project. The recommendation must be submitted to by February 10, 2020 by the end of the day. The URC will not share faculty recommendation forms or letters with the students.

  • For faculty mentors: If you think you might be interested in participating as a mentor in the SRP, please have look at our SRP Faculty Info.  It describes how the program works, the role of the faculty mentor, and suggests some ways to encourage students to participate.

Pursuant to College policy and applicable federal and state laws and regulations, all research involving human subjects, vertebrate animal subjects, or recombinant DNA/select agents must be reviewed and approved by the College’s Human Subjects Research Review Committee, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, or the Institutional Biosafety Committee before research begins.

Students who are selected will be notified before Spring break if possible so that all applicants can make their summer plans accordingly. Questions about the summer research program should be directed to the URC at

Other Opportunities

A list of faculty initiated summer research opportunities that also provide College subsidized room and board on campus can be found on the URC web site under Faculty Sponsored Research. This list will be updated as information is received from faculty, through February 3, 2020.

Guidelines for College-Subsidized Housing and Meal Plan Support

The increasing number of undergraduates participating in research projects during the summer has required a formal procedure for coordinating the research activity and managing the demands on College resources associated with summer housing and meal plans. All Summer Research Program projects, including those listed under Faculty Sponsored Research, are eligible for subsidized on-campus housing and meal plans. Budgeting of the resources for the summer research program requires that only those programs listed on the URC web site are eligible for College-subsidized housing and meal plans. Housing and Meal Plan support for those students choosing to live off-campus is not available, nor is support available for graduating seniors. Dorm selection, placement and roommate assignments will be made by Residence Life.

The Undergraduate Research Center (URC) advisory committee has recommended that summer research students living on-campus contribute a portion (depending upon financial need) toward the cost of their summer housing and meal plan package. Susidized Housing and Meal Plan is available from Monday, May 26th through Saturday, August 1, 2020 only.  On-campus housing may be available in weeks prior to and shortly after the program, however there will be no subsidies offered for those weeks and arrangements must be made directly through Residence Life.

Final Requirements

  • SRP participants must present their findings at the end of summer conference, submit a final report consisting of five-to-ten pages reporting on the outcomes of their research project to the URC along with a 250-word abstract. Summer Research Scholars must also complete the various URC surveys, write a thank you note to the funding source or agency and consider presenting their research findings at SCCUR or another professional conference during the upcoming academic year.