What is SURF Math Team Fellowship?

The SURF Math Team Fellowship supports a team of four UC Berkeley undergraduates from any year to propose a summer research project under the mentorship of one or two UC Berkeley math professors. The four-member student team must have at least two declared math majors, but other team members can come from outside departments. Each student will receive a $5,000 fellowship to support participation in the program, and the faculty mentor will receive $2500 in research funds. Should there be two mentors, they will receive $1250 each. 

In addition to funding, each SURF math team member is assigned to a small research cluster which communicates regularly throughout the summer. In the cluster you will find a community of undergraduate researchers with similar interests. Each cluster is led by a SURF Graduate Student Advisor - an experienced researcher to help guide your efforts. Primary guidance in research will come from individual faculty mentors, but most students have found it very valuable to meet with other students who are grappling with related research issues. The SURF Math Team experience culminates with a research presentation at the SURF Conference in August 2020. SURF Math Team fellows will present their research via one shared poster.

All SURF math team fellows are encouraged to pursue publishing their research. See this resource page for campus options. 


The application deadline for SURF 2020 has passed. If you are interested in applying for summer 2021, please take a look at the eligibility requirements below:

You may apply for a SURF Math Team Fellowship if you meet all of the following:

  • are a student currently enrolled in the UC Berkeley College of Letters and Science (L&S)- visiting or UC Berkeley extension students are not eligible
  • are only applying as a team member for the Math Team Fellowship- you may not apply individually for another SURF cohort (for example, SURF-SMART or Rose Hills)
  • past SURF fellows from other cohorts (SURF L&S, SURF Rose Hills, or SURF-SMART) are eligible to apply as a Math Team member
  • past SURF Math Team fellows are not eligible to apply 
  • have a well-written and reasoned proposal for an independent research project to complete in the summer of 2020
  • are able to devote yourself to research full-time for a minimum of eight weeks during the summer.
  • have the full support and guidance of a regular UC Berkeley faculty member (professor or lecturer) who can guide you for the duration of your project
  • International and AB540 students are eligible and encouraged to apply to SURF Math Team. 



The SURF Math Team award will go to students who have an interesting research question, a well-conceived research plan, and clear faculty support. Successful applicants will show promise of a quick start and the potential to complete their project within the proposed timeline. At the moment there is only one Math Team fellowship. Students who win other substantial summer awards will be expected to decline the SURF award so that additional students may benefit from summer research.

Please note that this fellowship is for student-initiated research only. Therefore, it is not for students who are supporting the research of faculty members. Ask yourself this question: Are you free to publish results from this research? If not, it may not qualify as student-initiated. Talk to your faculty sponsor if you have doubts.


Fellows are expected to work full-time on their research project for two months during the summer (specifically 8 weeks out of the 14 week full timeline of SURF). We require that you forego employment and summer session enrollment for that period. Eight weeks is the minimum requirement. We have found that most summer fellows get the most out of the experience by going beyond this minimum requirement. 

All research fellows are required to: attend one orientation that will be held during the Spring term RRR week (usually first week in May), four cluster meetings in mid-summer, two meetings to prepare for the conference presentation, and multiple research updates during the summer via bCourses. These preparation meetings usually happen in the week before or the week of the Conference. Fellows are urged to attend as many cluster meetings as possible. Students whose research takes them away from Berkeley may seek to be excused from attending some of these meetings in person, but will be required to attend virtually and/or regularly discuss progress with their SURF advisor and to present results at the end of the summer.

Early in the program, all research fellows must submit a photo, a project description, and a brief statement on the personal meaning of this opportunity, to be posted on the SURF website.

All SURF Math Team fellows will be required to make a work-in-progress poster presentation at the SURF Conference poster session in August 2020. 

After the Conference, there are also a few requirements including: an online evaluation and a thank you statement to the fellow's donor. You must be enrolled in a senior thesis or other capstone research project that will be evaluated, preferably for a letter grade rather than P/NP, in a course during the 2020-21 school year. Lastly, a copy of your final, completed research project (thesis) must be received by the Office of Undergraduate Research before the end of the term in which you graduate. An online exit survey is the final step in the SURF program.