Research Paperwork FAQs
As in the past, each student must be associated with a specific project and mentor for the duration of the Summer Research Program.
Applications for position and funded projects must be submitted and reviewed by the Associate Dean for Medical Research prior to approval and appointment. The available slots will be allocated based on merit and mentor.
There is one deadline for submission and review of the projects: March 1.
If I do not have a mentor, what should I do?
Don’t panic. All students are encouraged to examine departmental research pages to figure out what area of study they are interested in. If you need more guidance, please contact Rene Galindo, M.D., Ph.D., to set up a meeting. He can help you find a good home for your research interests.
What paperwork does each student and mentor need to complete?
After a student has contacted their assigned mentor, a “Letter of Intent,” posted on the Summer Research Program page, will need to be completed by February 15. We use this as the contract that signals the student understands what the mentor expects of them before the Summer Research Program starts. It also gives the pairing a month to create a research plan for their summer project, due March 8 with the completed application.
What are the appointment dates?
The summer research period is June 2 to August 7. Students are permitted to take a week off during the 10-week period that is to be scheduled with their mentors.
When are students paid?
Students are paid at the end of each month. A $3,500 stipend is provided for the entire period, unless you are identified as an NIH-grant student. This is a taxable stipend.
Is there an orientation?
Yes. There is both an HR orientation as well as a safety orientation. Both are mandatory for all students.
Are there other requirements of the program?
- All students will attend the Introduction to Research Course. This is a seven-week course that meets once a week and has a journal club component. Failure to participate in this course will get you excused from this program.
- All students must submit a summary of their research experience at the conclusion of the Summer Research Program. The description should include 1) the question asked, 2) the methods employed, 3) the results obtained, and 4) the conclusions drawn. Note that with proper formatting, a variation on this summary would be acceptable for submission as an abstract to the Annual UT Southwestern Medical Student Research Forum (abstracts submitted to the research forum are published and can be listed on your curriculum vitae).
What are my obligations to the program once the commitment form has been completed?
Mentors make considerable effort to organize their schedules and lab activities to permit students to come into their labs to conduct research. Student appointments via the Summer Research Programs obligate students to a full-time commitment to their research projects (i.e. 40 hours per week and lectures). No other form of employment is allowed during this time.
What should I do if I have problems in the lab or with my mentor?
Often issues may present problems that a small amount of clarification or discussion can resolve. The issue should be taken to the Associate Dean for resolution. If problems are larger and resistant to such interventions, students may be assigned to other laboratories.
What can be expected of me as a mentor?
Mentoring students – particularly those without prior research experience – can be a demanding role. By the same token, the impact that an effective mentor can have on the subsequent career of a student can be profound.
Before the Summer Research Program, all mentors are encouraged to define the project that a student will approach as early and precisely as possible, including the resources that this office can provide. Provide as much background and direction in advance as is possible. Students are most productive when they are associated with a well-defined project, given the requisite knowledge/tools, and provided abundant opportunities for feedback and discussion.
Generally, students are unhappy when they are associated with a poorly defined project that they feel unprepared to approach.
During the Program, try to meet with your student as frequently as possible. The happiest students are consistently those who feel that their efforts are toward a worthwhile goal and are appreciated. Mentors are required to provide a workspace for the researcher during their time in the lab.
Mentors will be asked to comment on the running of the Summer Research Program as well as possibly writing letters of recommendations for their students. Because our programs are run off of grants, mentors will be asked to submit current biosketches with student projects and other grant awards to complete our applications.
How many students can be associated with a single mentor?
In order to provide the most meaningful learning experiences possible, in most instances, only a single student will be assigned to an individual mentor’s project. Unless compelling reasons can be presented, no more than two students will be associated with a single mentor but each student will need a personalized project description and mentoring plan.
What should I do if I have problems with my student?
Often issues between mentor and students can be clarified with some discussion. Please contact the Associate Dean at any sign of continued problems to help mediate the concerns. If problems are resistant to such interventions, students can be assigned to other laboratories. For the purposes of comparison, issues have arisen only once every 1–3 years that have necessitated a student be reassigned. Most of the previous problems have stemmed from a failure of the mentor to clearly communicate the expectation of the project to the student and the student generally being unhappy with their assignment.