SURF Rose Hills Independent

What is SURF Rose Hills Independent?

The SURF Rose Hills Independent program supports juniors and graduating seniors seeking to fund their independent STEM-oriented research over the summer. For juniors, the purpose of the fellowship is to fund research that will directly inform your senior honor thesis or other major capstone research project. For seniors, the fellowship allows you to further develop such research with an eye toward professional publication. 

Thanks to the generous support of The Rose Hills Foundation, SURF Rose Hills Independent Fellows receive a summer stipend of $5,000 to support participation in the program. In addition to receiving funding, each summer fellow will be assigned to a research cluster, which communicates regularly throughout the summer. In the cluster you will find a community of undergraduate researchers with similar interests and problems, as well as 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 useful to meet with other students who are grappling with related research issues. The SURF program culminates with a research presentation at the SURF Conference – August 2021. SURF Rose Hills Independent fellows will present via oral presentation with slides at the Conference. 


You may apply for SURF Rose Hills Independent if you meet all of the following: 

  • Currently enrolled UC Berkeley student-visiting or UC Berkeley extension students are not eligible
  • Have a with a minimum 3.0 GPA 
  • Junior or graduating Senior status: “Junior” for the purposes of SURF/Rose Hills eligibility means being in at least your fifth semester of college, and planning to graduate Fall 2021 or Spring 2022. For transfers, you must be in at least your second semester at UC Berkeley. “Graduating senior” for the purposes of SURF/Rose Hills eligibility means graduating in May 2021
  • U.S. citizen (Note: Although SURF Rose Hills only accepts U.S Citizens, AB540 and International students are eligible and encouraged to apply for SURF L&S, SURF-SMART, or SURF Math Team) 
  • Your permanent residence is in one of the following counties in Southern California: 
    San Diego County 
    Imperial County 
    Orange County 
    Riverside County 
    Santa Barbara County
    Ventura County
    Los Angeles County 
    San Bernardino County
  • Sponsorship by a UC Berkeley, UCSF, CHORI, or LBNL faculty member (professor or lecturer appointed through fall 2019). Juniors proposing independent projects and working in off-campus labs must submit proof of the commitment of a UC Berkeley faculty member who will sponsor their senior thesis or its equivalent following their summer with SURF Rose Hills
  • For juniors proposing independent projects, you must enroll in course units at UC Berkeley (senior honor thesis or the equivalent) in conjunction with your project during the 2021-2022 academic year
  • Students must be declared in one of the eligible majors (see next section) 
  • SURF Rose Hills fellows from previous summers are eligible to apply for summer 2021

List of eligible majors:

There are majors in every UC Berkeley college – except the College of Environmental Design – that are eligible for SURF Rose Hills Independent. Read the below eligible major list closely:

Life Sciences Majors: Integrative Biology*, Microbial Biology, Molecular & Cell Biology*, Genetics & Plant Biology, Molecular & Environmental Biology, Earth & Planetary Science, Nutritional Science (including: Toxicology, Dietetics, and Physiology & Metabolism), Conservation & Resource Studies, Environmental Sciences, Marine Science, Planetary Science 

Math/Physical Sciences Majors:Astrophysics*, Chemical Biology, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Mathematics*, Applied Mathematics*, Physics*, Statistics*, Geophysics 

Engineering Majors: Bioengineering, Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, EECS (or the Computer Science major within L&S*), Energy Engineering, Engineering Math & Statistics, Engineering Physics, Industrial Engineering & Operations Research (or Operations Research & Management Science within L&S*), Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering, Nuclear Engineering

*Students in these majors may also apply for SURF L&S if they are juniors who will be carrying out a graded senior thesis or capstone project during the 2020-2021 academic year

Selection Criteria:  

SURF Rose Hills awards 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, though projects may be a subset of a larger project, such as the data-gathering part of an honors thesis, or a significant extension of a topic previously explored. 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. For a research fellowship supporting faculty research, apply for the Rose Hills Experience Fellowship

Commitments and Responsibilities: 

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 typically require that you forego employment and summer session enrollment for that period. However, given COVID-19 pandemic circumstances, SURF will not restrict summer session enrollment or employment opportunity for summer 2021. We are still holding SURF fellows to a minimum eight-week research 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 workshops in mid-summer, two meetings to prepare for the conference presentation (these preparation meetings usually happen in the week before or the week of the Conference), multiple peer group meetings, and multiple research updates during the summer via bCourses. Fellows are urged to attend as many workshops as possible. These workshops address a range of topics including core research skills, discipline-specific research practices, career pathways, and student wellness. Please note that ALL SURF events and meetings will take place online via Zoom. Students are expected to 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 Rose Hills Independent fellows will be required to make a work-in-progress oral presentation at the SURF conference in August 2021.

After the Conference, there are also a few requirements including: an online evaluation and a thank you statement to the fellow’s donor. Rose Hills Independent Juniors must enroll in course units at UC Berkeley (senior honor thesis or the equivalent) in conjunction with your project during the 2020-2021 academic year (your senior 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.