Answers to Common Questions
Crafting an UTRA Project Proposal
Identifying a faculty or student collaborator: Some research collaborations emerge because an instructor identifies a student with a specific skill-set or area of interest that will aid his or her research. In other cases, a student with a specific research interest or set of questions will either contact faculty whose classes they have enjoyed or they will search Brown's Research Directory to find other faculty working in this area. Students who learn more about a faculty member's research, then meet with the professor during office hours or make an appointment usually fare better than those who send various faculty members generic emails.
Working remotely: Faculty sponsors and students are expected to be on site together. Sponsors are asked to meet with student collaborators on a regular basis for most of the summer. The UTRA Committee expects that the student and faculty member will meet a minimum of once a week so that there are structured opportunities to discuss the ongoing work. Students working in the humanities and social sciences should contact Dean Rodriguez if they have concerns.
Applying for an UTRA
Selection Criteria: In short, the quality of the collaboration is a key factor in the selection process. In making these awards, preference is given to students and faculty who have demonstrated a high level of motivation and interest in the field(s) represented in the project and who bring ideas and background that strengthen the probability of a collaborative partnership. Additional details are provided in the Applying for an UTRA page.
Applying for a Team UTRA: Each student on a team submits an individual application and does not need to indicate that s/he is working on a Team UTRA. Faculty applicants, on the other hand, must add each student to their application and must provide a compelling argument for the request of multiple student researchers. Faculty are asked to discuss each student team member's role and each person's unique strengths. Please note that the Committee is under no obligation to award the UTRA to each student-applicant. In the case where a particular student's contribution to the team is not made evident - on either the student or the faculty member's application - that student may not be awarded an UTRA. Additional information is provided here.
Second UTRA: One of the goals of the Dean of the College Office is to allow every Brown undergraduate to have at least one undergraduate research experience. Applications for a second summer UTRA will be reviewed with this goal in mind. Students who are applying for their first summer UTRA will be given priority. Often students with strong applications who have had a previous UTRA are waitlisted, and they are often funded from the waitlist. (Students who have had a semester UTRA are not disadvantaged when being considered for a summer UTRA.) Students may only apply for one UTRA project at a given time.
Multiple awards: Students who are awarded an UTRA and also receive another fellowship from the University (e.g., Royce or Mellon Mays) or from another source will be asked to choose one.
Working on an UTRA
Housing for a summer UTRA: On-campus housing is NOT provided to summer UTRA recipients. Students generally sublet apartments in the Providence area for the summer, or live in summer housing offered by Residential Life.
Classes during a summer UTRA: Summer UTRAs constitute a full-time job. As such, students are strongly discouraged from taking summer courses during the weeks they expect to be working on their research. Students should contact Dean Rodriguez with questions or concerns.
Extension: Students can “extend” a Summer UTRA only if they are applying for the Summer and Semester Teaching Extension, and the student will be serving as a teaching assistant in the course that was revised during the summer. Such an extension can only be requested on the faculty member's initial UTRA application. If students realize that they need more time to complete other kinds of summer research projects, they can apply for a Spring Semester UTRA, which has a November deadline.
Final project: Faculty generally require an end-of-summer report on the work or a completed paper. An online evaluation is also sent to UTRA awardees requesting feedback on the program and on the collaboration. Summer UTRA recipients may participate in the Summer Research Symposium, like all other summer researchers.