Faculty who sponsor student UTRA projects not only benefit from the assistance with a particular research or course development project; they are also energized by the fresh insights that undergraduates bring to their work. UTRAs provide faculty with an opportunity to mentor a nascent scholar in their field, a uniquely satisfying form of teaching. Faculty sponsoring more than one UTRA proposal (unless team UTRAs) typically only get one award per semester/summer. Under extraordinary circumstances, when (1) very strong and clear justifications are made for each submitted proposal, (2) both proposals are deemed fundable by the UTRA Review Committee, and (3) funds are available, proposals beyond the first are wait-listed and may be funded.
Faculty sponsoring team UTRAs should document the specific contributions of each student to the overall project, with attention to the integration of individual students into the research team. Proposals that fail to address the team aspect of these proposals may not be reviewed by the UTRA Review Committee.
The UTRA program expects to fund a particular student/faculty collaborative pair only once in a student’s tenure at Brown, and students continuing on in a faculty member’s research program will typically receive support from other funding sources. In very rare instances, projects pursue new research directions or other special circumstances may arise, and these may receive special consideration.
Sponsors of undergraduate collaborations are normally members of the faculty holding teaching appointments. Research faculty who wish to sponsor UTRAs should describe their past and current experience working with undergraduates. Prospective UTRA sponsors are encouraged to review the Applying for an UTRA section of this website for instructions and insight into the selection criteria.
Components of a Successful UTRA
Applications should show evidence of collaboration between student and faculty. The goal of the UTRA is not to assign students into prefabricated summer jobs, but to support opportunities that serve the intellectual interests of both parties. Contact between students and faculty MUST be structured into the project. The UTRA Review Committee expects that the student and faculty member will meet a minimum of once per week to discuss the ongoing work. Students should not be expected to work independently for long stretches without adequate mentoring. Faculty need to write their portions of the application with careful detail, especially as regards to how well they know the student and how they propose to guide and mentor the student. Faculty are also required to describe the feasibility of the project with proposal timeline for what will be accomplished during the ten week period if their proposal is selected for funding.
Since the nature of projects varies greatly, the UTRA program does not enforce specific start and end dates for summer research. Students and faculty decide on mutually agreeable dates for their UTRA projects to begin and end. Our expectation is that the projects will span a ten-week period and students will devote at least thirty-five hours per week to their projects.
By University policy, students cannot earn both course credit and wages or stipends for the same research hours. Therefore, we cannot award UTRAs to students who will be concurrently enrolled in an independent study or honors thesis course for the same project.