Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP)

Experiential Learning with SURP

The Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) helps aspiring biomedical scientists gain significant experience and guide them in deciding if a life in research aligns with their professional goals. It serves as a stepping stone from undergraduate studies to advanced PhD training in the biological and biomedical sciences. Participants engage in an intensive 10-week program designed to provide hands-on experience in biomedical research, together with guidance on how to plan for a research-related career. 

Six graduate programs in the Pitt School of Medicine sponsor SURP and mentors are amongst more than 200 training faculty in these PhD training programs:

About SURP

Goals and Structure

To provide undergraduates with outstanding opportunities for research training in a diverse and inclusive university environment at a leading academic medical center. To engage highly motivated undergraduates by immersing them in cutting-edge, hypothesis-driven laboratory environments.  Each SURP trainee works with a professor who shares similar research interests.  In addition to conducting approximately 400 hours of laboratory research, trainees receive individualized mentoring and participate in weekly seminars and lab meetings.  

SURP is administered through the Office of Graduate Studies in the Pitt School of Medicine.  Our campus is situated in a friendly, safe urban environment located in the historic Oakland section of Pittsburgh.  SURP mentors are amongst >200 training faculty in six PhD training programs.

  • To train participants in valuable technical skills relevant to research in a multiplicity of biomedical disciplines from fundamental biological discovery to mechanisms of disease.
  • To provide trainees with insight into the structure of graduate education and the steps leading to a successful career related to biomedical research.
  • Mentors and projects will be assigned by the SURP committee.
  • SURP includes field trips that explore Pittsburgh, a most livable city, while also facilitating peer-to-peer collegial interactions.
  • At the conclusion of SURP, all trainees write abstracts of their work and give short presentations on their projects at a final symposium.  
Application

ApplICATION to SURP 2023 Opens on November 1, 2022

2023 Deadlines
  • Application opens November 1, 2022.
  • Applications will be accepted through March 1, 2023.
  • Applicants generally receive an email message notifying them of a decision between February 1, 2023 (early application) and April 1, 2023.
  • Late submissions/materials will not be accepted.
Confirm Eligibility
  • Applicants must have completed their sophomore or junior year of undergraduate training before the start of the program.
  • Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 ("B") or higher.  Strong performance in science, math, and related coursework is especially important.
  • Students from all groups that are under-represented in science are encouraged to apply. 
  • Applicants must be undergraduate students currently enrolled full-time at a U.S. college or university.
  • International applicants, who are enrolled full-time at a U.S. college or university, will be required to provide official authorization for Optional Practical Training (OPT) from their home institution, prior to their arrival in Pittsburgh. 

Participation Policy

SURP began with orientation on May 22 and ended with final presentations on July 28, 2023. All fellows must be available to begin and end their participation on these dates.

Fellows will have mentors and projects assigned to them by the program committee and are expected to work in the laboratory full-time throughout the 10-week program. Vacation days will not be permitted unless pre-approved by the faculty mentor. 

Explore Funding
  • A stipend of at least $3,500 will typically be paid in 2 installments. 
  • Travel expenses will be reimbursed (see FAQs for additional information).
  • Students will be responsible for their own meals and other expenses.
SURP FAQs

When does SURP start?

Please plan to arrive on Saturday, May 20, 2023.  Ms. Katie Rossi will be your contact for information about housing and related details. I f you should have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call her at (412) 648-9000 or email Katie Rossi. If you cannot get in touch with Ms. Rossi, then address your concerns to Dr. Penny Morel.

Is there a packet of Welcome Information that I should expect to receive as part of this program?

Welcome information will be emailed to you.

Is travel to and from Pittsburgh provided?

Yes, with limitations.  Receipts are required for all ground transportation travel expenses.

Flights

You will use the University-wide contracted supplier, Anthony Travel, to book your round trip coach class flight.  The cost of the flight will be paid for by SURP.

Travelers should use the least expensive mode of transportation to and from airports, which may include a personal vehicle, a taxi, or ride share service.  Reimbursement for travel to and from airports is reimbursable up to but not to exceed $100 roundtrip.  All airport related travel will be reimbursed at the conclusion of the program.

Ground Transportation

Participants may use ground transportation (vehicle or rail) as a mode of transportation. Related expenses (mileage, parking, tolls, taxi, or ride share service) may be reimbursed as long as these costs do not exceed $400. All ground transportation and mileage-related travel expenses will be reimbursed at the conclusion of the program.

If you are coming by air, when you arrive at the Pittsburgh airport your options to get to Pitt are:

Pittsburgh Regional Transit public bus service, 28X Airport Flyer, about $3 one-way (The bus stops at Forbes Avenue and Bouquet Street. You must handle your own luggage on and off the bus.), taxi, or ride share.

I want to bring a car, what can you tell me about parking on campus?

Students who attend summer programs can purchase a special summer student parking permit at the University of Pittsburgh Parking Office. These permits are sold by the week and require a minimum of 4 weeks. Summer 2023 rates is $25 per week. SURP will not reimburse you for parking expenses during your stay in Pittsburgh.

What dorm will I be in and will I have a roommate?

If you accept the housing we provide, you will most likely be housed in Pitt’s Bouquet Gardens facility. In the past, our students have been assigned a shared bedroom - each shared bedroom has bathroom facilities with a sink, shower and toilet. Bedding, blankets, and towels will be provided. Janitorial services are not provided, so you will be responsible for keeping your suite clean.  Each apartment comes with a living room and full kitchen.

Info about University Housing in General

When will I receive my stipend checks?

SURP participants who are living in Pitt housing will receive $500 during the first week of the program as start-up money.  If you choose not to accept University housing, you will receive an additional $500 to help you offset your housing and commuting expenses.

The remaining $3,000 stipend will be paid in two equal allotments, the last working day of June and July.  Depending on the source of funding, taxes could be withheld from your stipend.  The June and July checks will be direct deposited to your checking account.

Housing arrangement utilized by participant

Stipend received during the first week of SURP ***

Pitt Dorm – Yes**

$500

Pitt Dorm – No

$1000

** 10-weeks of housing is provided.

*** Every SURP participant receives a stipend of $1500 on June 30th and $1500 on July 31st.

Are there certain hours that I will be working each day or is it more "come in when you need to"?

The minimum expectation is that every student will work a full 40-hour week, on a regular schedule. For example, you might start at 8:00 am, work till 12:00, take a 30-minute lunch break, and then work 12:30-4:30.  Students who want their project to progress more rapidly are welcome to put in additional hours as they see fit and in agreement with their advisors.  As you will discover, our research groups are extremely active with most graduate students and post-doctoral fellows putting in additional hours in the evening and on Saturday.  At all times, safety is of paramount concern and so the policy of never working alone in a laboratory is rigorously enforced. The Program Director encourages you to explicitly discuss your exact working hours with your research advisor at your first meeting.

Are meals provided?

Although there is no meal plan provided, your stipend will be ample enough to purchase food throughout the summer.  Also, meals are served for students at many of the seminars, workshops and formal talks.

Are there social activities planned that are not work based?

In the past, we have offered organized trips to a Pirates baseball game, amusement park, and a welcome event of a city tour. We leave the organizing of other social events up to the group. Pittsburgh has lots of nearby attractions, including water parks, museums, rafting, and so on. We encourage each member of the summer program to "organize" a group activity during their stay. The activities will depend on what the group is interested in doing.

I have a computer and I am hoping that I will be able to bring it with me. Will I have internet access in my room?

Guests have three options for guest Wi-Fi access when visiting the University of Pittsburgh: Eduroam, Pitt Guest Wi-Fi (Anyroam), and MyResNet.

Anything special I need to know about Checkout?

Nothing specific about moving out, but updates will appear here so plan to check back.

What paperwork will I need to complete or bring with me?

Your payroll administrator for our summer program will have been in contact with you requesting specific information that is required to be able to issue your stipend check. You can contact Katie Rossi or by phone 412-648-9000 if necessary. Your payroll information must be set up before you arrive in May. Accepted students will receive further information regarding required training.

Can you provide me with travel directions and how do I check in?

Check in details will be provided when housing assignments are posted. Use this link to navigate the University of Pittsburgh campus.

What are the COVID-19 requirements? 

All SURP participants will be required to adhere to University-mandated COVID-19 precautions.