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Photo of lab workerUnlike traditional college classes where the course of study is entirely determined by the instructor, the SURF participants identify their area of interest and are matched with a faculty mentor. Together the student and mentor craft a research project. The student will work on that project under the supervision of a graduate student, postdoc or another member of the lab for a few weeks, until the student is comfortable with the project. Then the student will be expected to work independently.

Students are expected to work full-time in the laboratory and participate in weekly academic and research seminars.

Weekly seminars include:

  • 'Career Options for PhDs' seminar
  • 'Life as a Graduate Student' seminar given by TSRI graduate students
  • 'Lab Techniques' presentation, where students explain why the technique was chosen, the reagents, the methods, and the expected results. Many of the students also share the pitfalls and/or troubleshooting they encounter in learning and mastering the technique.
  • GRE Preparation Classes
  • 'Hot Topics in Science' presentation, where students present the background, the methods, figures/graphs, conclusions, and most importantly, their interpretation of the research presented in the paper.
  • At the end of the summer, students will give an oral presentation of their research at the Summer Student Symposium. The entire TSRI campus will be invited to view the research accomplishments of the SURF students. This will be another great opportunity for the SURF students to hone their public speaking and networking skills.


Students receive a stipend of $5000 and on-campus housing at a nearby university or college.