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Duke University | Howard Hughes Undergraduate Program

Howard Hughes Research Fellows Program

June 2 - July 25, 2014

THE PROGRAM           

To encourage students with developing interests in research careers in the biological sciences and biomedical sciences, including the newly emerging fields of systems biology, Trinity College offers the Research Fellows Program, an 8-week summer research program on the Duke campus. Twenty-two first-year students from Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and the Pratt School of Engineering will be selected as participants. The program is supported by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and directed by Dr. Ron Grunwald, Director of the Undergraduate Research Support Office.

Eligibility | Stipend, Room and Board, Travel | Selection Consideration | Application Procedures | On line Application Frequently Asked Questions | Information

The focus of the Research Fellows Program is an individual research mentorship conducted by each participant in one of the University's laboratories in whole organism biology, biochemistry, cell or molecular biology, immunology, or other areas of the life sciences. Students join project teams defined by faculty mentors and report their results in a poster session held at the end of the program. Seminars, workshops, informational meetings about research careers, and other group activities are required components of the program. The Hughes Research Fellows Program is a full-time research program; thus, participants may not be enrolled in summer courses.



Applications will be accepted from first-year students who matriculated in Trinity College or the Pratt School of Engineering in fall 2010 and who have taken or are enrolled in at least one course in the biological or chemical sciences. AP courses in biology and chemistry will satisfy the expectation that you have studied these subjects at the college level. At least one laboratory course is recommended for applicants; a computer programming course or good experience with computer software is recommended for students interested in computational biology or mathematical modeling. We especially welcome applications from women and members of minority groups traditionally underrepresented in science careers. The goal of the program is to give students the opportunity to explore research careers in the biological sciences by acquainting them with the resources of the major research university where they will pursue their undergraduate education.

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Participants will receive a $4,300 stipend paid in three installments during the summer. Students receiving need-based financial aid may apply for up to $200 reimbursement for travel to and from the program. Housing during the 8 weeks will be provided on campus by the program. Participants will be assigned housing, usually on Central Campus in air-conditioned, furnished apartments. Central Campus has an outdoor swimming pool, two lighted basketball courts, four lighted tennis courts, and a park area with picnic tables. Laundry facilities are located throughout the complex. Central Campus apartments are a 10-minute walk (through Duke Gardens) to West Campus; bus service is provided at regular intervals between Central Campus and other areas of the university. Participants must reside in assigned housing and may not make independent arrangements. Former Research Fellows have noted that apartment living in the summer is more enjoyable when they make plans to prepare and share meals and to attend activities on and off campus together.

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The Research Fellows Program provides an early research opportunity for Duke students who are considering research careers in the life sciences or related areas in the physical or quantitative sciences in which the focus is on biological questions. Therefore, applicants to the program are expected to be enrolled in science and mathematics courses in their first year at Duke and to plan to declare a major in the natural or quantitative sciences. Grades are reviewed during the selection process, but because applicants have completed only one university semester, grades receive less weight than written answers to the application questions. In answering these questions, applicants should provide details that demonstrate their interest in science and research. The letter of reference should address the applicant's readiness for a research experience that is both independent and collaborative.

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Please, before emailing the program administrators with questions about the online application, use the FAQ link on the Research Fellows web page.  

The online application and one reference from a Duke instructor, preferably from a science or mathematics instructor, must be submitted by Tuesday, February 10, 2014. The target date for notifying applicants is the week before spring break.

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If I am accepted to and participate in this program, may I enroll in a summer course?
No. The Research Fellows program requires a full-time commitment.

How many people apply for this program and how hard is it to get in?
In each of the past several years, over 100 students have applied, which makes the selection process very difficult.

When will I be notified? Is there a waitlist?
Students are notified of decisions before the beginning of spring break. There is a short waitlist.

Do you wait to accept students after receiving all applications, or is there a rolling admissions process?
The Committee reviews all completed applications before notifying students of decisions. There are no rolling admissions.

May I check whether my application materials have or have not been received?
The on-line application will be acknowledged as soon as it is submitted; the URS Office will notify students if a letter of recommendation has not been received.   

How important is academic performance in the selection process?
Grades are reviewed during the selection process, but because applicants have completed only one university semester, grades receive less weight than written answers to the application questions.

I have never done any research – will this hurt my chances?
Not in the least.

If I am accepted into the program, may I continue my research in the same laboratory where I am currently employed or volunteering?
This may not be possible, but we will take a student’s request into consideration.

The application says that an eligibility requirement is that I have taken or be enrolled in a biological or chemical science course. I am a prospective biomedical engineering major, and I have not taken biology or chemistry course here nor am I currently enrolled in one. I do have AP credit in biology and chemistry.
We recognize that first year students, especially Pratt students, are constrained in course choices. We will take this into consideration. We do want to make sure you will feel comfortable in a university laboratory.

May I submit a resume by mail or email?
Please do not.

How long should the answers be to the application questions?
One long or two short paragraphs should suffice should suffice for the personal question.  You should also write one or two meaningful paragraphs about the two areas of science that most interest you.

Can a graduate student instructor or laboratory teaching assistant write the letter of reference? 
Yes, but please make sure he or she is a graduate student rather than an undergraduate teaching assistant.

I took a very large general lecture course with a professor this past semester, but my lab section was smaller and the graduate TA knows me better. What would be preferable for the recommendation?
We prefer to receive the recommendation from an individual who can comment on the applicant’s work habits and performance. In your case, it sounds as though the TA is the most appropriate recommender, but this is not always the case.

May I ask for a letter of recommendation from a Duke professor under whom I have participated in research, even if I have never taken a class with that person? The reason I am unsure is because some of the statements about the recommendation specifically refer to class activities.
We very much prefer to receive one letter from a class instructor.

In the spring I will be taking a 100-level science course, but the applications are due in mid-February, so I will not have been in this class for very long. My current seminar teacher, however, does know me very well, but she is not a scientist. Will it be ok for her to be my faculty reference?
Although we prefer recommendations from science or math instructors, we recognize that it is not always possible for first year students to obtain such letters. Asking a seminar professor or writing instructor is the best alternative.

I was just wondering whether or not the faculty reference could be from a former high school teacher -- or does it have to be from a Duke faculty member?
The recommendation must be from a Duke instructor.

Are non-citizens eligible for this program?
All first year students are eligible to apply and participate, regardless of citizenship status.

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