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Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)

The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program at UT Southwestern’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is an intensive summer research training experience designed for college students who are preparing for Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. careers in biomedical research. Fellows spend 10 weeks (beginning in early June and ending mid-August) pursuing individual research projects in the laboratories of Graduate School faculty members. Fellows gain experience in modern research techniques and plan and execute an experimental strategy to answer a scientific question. SURF introduces students to the kinds of projects encountered during postgraduate research training and fosters an understanding of the planning, discipline, and teamwork involved in the pursuit of answers to current questions in the biological sciences. At the end of the SURF Program, fellows present their research during a poster session.

2024 Program Dates: June 3 – August 9, 2024

In addition to laboratory research, fellows attend weekly seminars given by UT Southwestern faculty members. Informal discussions about careers in science and graduate training are also scheduled.

A male student holds a pipette in a lab

Approximately 50 fellows participate in the summer research program. Fellows are assigned to a laboratory and research project according to their previous training and research interests.

Research areas include:

  • Biological Chemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biophysics
  • Cancer Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Mechanisms of Disease
  • Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology

Natural and biological sciences majors who have an interest in stem cell and regenerative medicine should apply to SURF - Stem Cell Program.

Natural and biological sciences majors who have an interest in kidney disease should apply to the Summer Undergraduate Research Institution for the Study of Kidney Disease (SURISKD) Program.

Eligibility for SURF

Applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate science degree program and have completed their freshman year. Applicants must also be U.S. citizens or possess an F1 visa. You must commit to not take any courses, hold a job, volunteer, or plan a vacation during this 10-week period. If your school follows the quarter system, you will be allowed to join the program up to one week late.

Criteria used in selection of fellowship recipients include:

  • College grades
  • Relevant experience
  • Letters of recommendation from faculty who can assess the applicant’s potential for advanced training and success in biological research
  • Career goals include pursuing Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. degree
SURF Poster Session


The stipend for the 10-week program is $5,000. This support is taxable. Details on local living accommodations will be provided when fellows are notified of their acceptance. If a fellow requires housing, then the costs will be covered by SURF; however, fellows are responsible for paying for their own travel expenses.

How to Apply for SURF

To apply for SURF, please complete the online application. Within the application, you will need to upload your transcripts (official or unofficial) from each college you have attended. 

We also require two letters of recommendation, which can come from mentors, teachers, employers, or advisers. Letters should discuss the applicant’s scientific and intellectual abilities, previous training and experience, and potential for a career in research.

Once the application is submitted, recommenders will receive an email with a link to upload their recommendation letter.

Application for SURF 2024 opens October 1, 2023
The deadline is February 15, 2024


Housing needs for SURF students are coordinated through the SURF office. SURF students requiring housing will stay in a local hotel and be transported to and from the UT Southwestern campus daily. SURF participants with family or friends in the Dallas-Fort Worth area should plan to stay with them.

Contact the SURF Program

Arnaldo Diaz Vazquez, Ph.D.

Program Director

Arnaldo Diaz Vazquez, Ph.D.

Iman Ahmed

Senior Program Coordinator


Iman Ahmed

Cristina Lerding

Program Coordinator


Iman Ahmed