Professor Heather Watson shares advice about summer research fellowships

Avanti Khare, Sci-Tech Editor

Applications have now opened for the 2023 Summer Research Fellowships. The program invites students from all academic disciplines to complete an independent research project lasting four through eight weeks during the summer break. The application process involves a research proposal outlining the scope of the project to be completed, a resume, and approval from a faculty mentor.  Professor Heather Watson is the current Director of Undergraduate Research oversees the Summer Research Fellowship program. She suggests that students who are looking for a faculty mentor should start by approaching faculty whose classes they enjoyed or consulting with their academic advisors. Professor Watson also highlighted that in addition to providing a detailed research plan and a brief literature review, students should also consider elaborating on how the program would fit into their future career goals.

About half of the research projects are funded internally by Union College through various fellowships, according to the undergraduate research website. Others are supported through individual grants to faculty members and departments, or foundation support. Notable past funding sources for summer research include the National Science Foundation, the NASA New York Space Grant, and the National Institutes of Health.

Professor Watson also spoke to the professional development opportunities offered during the summer research program, especially the summer research seminar series. She described it as an opportunity to give students a “low-stakes, low-pressure environment to practice their presentation skills and their communication skills” and that she sees it as an important opportunity to highlight the diversity of student research interests. She also described the student research seminar series as a great opportunity for students who are further along in their research process or working on a larger project to share and receive feedback on their work from a broader audience.

Applications for the 2023 Summer Research Fellowship are due February 9, at 11:59 PM.

Questions about the Summer Research Fellowship or the application process can be directed to Professor Heather Watson at [email protected]