Summer Research Scholars

STEM-Field early application period is November 1-December 1, 2018. All other SRS applications are due Friday, January 25, 2019.

Program Information:

The Summer Research Scholars (SRS) program supports students participating in collaborative research supervised by W&L faculty. The program aims to encourage the development of research techniques within a particular discipline, to promote the active acquisition of knowledge, and to stimulate student interest in inquiry. It is also intended to aid undergraduate faculty in their research activities by providing student help, but the projects must be meaningful in their own right as well as educationally valuable for the student. The application process is competitive, and funds may not be adequate to grant all proposals. The supported work is carried out during the summer months and is open to students of all disciplines.

In addition to the regular SRS program, in summer 2019 the University will fund up to 5 STEM students for a 2-Year Fellows Program.  This program is open to first and second year STEM students only.  Benefits for 2-Year Fellows include:

  • a research preparation course (INTR 200 or approved equivalent) during their first Spring Term as a Fellow
  • two intensive summer research periods with a chosen faculty mentor
  • continuation of summer research during two academic years with their summer research mentor
  • supplemental supply funding for the lab to help offset the costs of the Fellow’s academic year research
  • opportunities for leadership development and peer mentoring.

All students who are seeking funding through the Summer Research Scholars (SRS) program (both the STEM-Field Early Application and the Regular SRS Application) must fill out the Summer Opportunities Funding Request form in addition to any other program specific application.  If SRS is the ONLY program you are applying to for support of your project, you will only be requesting a stipend.  The SRS program does NOT fund expenses.  If your project involves travel to an off-site location, please discuss with your faculty mentor whether he/she has funding available to cover your expenses.  If he/she does not and you wish to apply for additional funding to cover expenses (such as a Johnson Opportunity Grant), you will need to include those expenses on this funding request form in addition to the stipend.    Students may apply to more than one program, but under no circumstances will total funding awards for a single project exceed the budget specified on this Funding Request form. After completing the funding request form, you will also need to fill out any program-specific funding applications. The SRS funding application process is described below.  If you have questions about the Summer Opportunities Funding Request form, please check out the Frequently Asked Questions.

STEM-Field Early Application Process:
Students interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) area research may submit their applications online between November 1 and December 1.  This earlier deadline provides a means of matching students to faculty research mentors and various designated funding sources, including the 2-Year Fellows program. Applications are evaluated by the STEM selection faculty and are assigned to a specific project and mentor.  Some students will be funded at this time from independent funding sources, including the 2-Year Fellows.  Faculty mentors who have matched with students not receiving independent funding will submit a regular SRS Faculty application for student stipends (see below).

Regular SRS Application Process:
All other Summer Research Scholar applications (including those STEM applications for which faculty mentors must apply using the SRS Faculty application and those STEM faculty who elect not to go through the earlier STEM selection process) are submitted by the faculty member.  Faculty members can nominate up to two students for their summer research projects. These applications are due no later than January 26th. Students should fill out the Summer Opportunities Funding Request Form (see above). 

Applications are submitted to the Associate Provost; decisions are made by the President's Advisory Committee. Careful attention to the guidelines is crucial in writing the proposal. Proposals should be concise, clear, and as far as possible comprehensible to non-specialists. They should explain the proposed research, its background, significance, and benefit to the students involved. Proposals must list by name all students involved in the project.  Decisions will be made according to the following criteria:

  1. educational value to the student researcher
  2. significance of the work proposed
  3. clarity and organization of proposal
  4. feasibility of the project
  5. seriousness of motivation of the participants
  6. academic qualifications of participants

Proposals must include a statement from each proposed student participant, describing her or his planned work on the proposed project, as well as a description of the work from the faculty member that includes a clear description of each student's role. No faculty member may request funds for more than two student researchers through the regular SRS program. (Faculty who have secured other funding for their summer research may have more than two student researchers, but only two may be supported by the SRS program.)  Independently funded students, including 2-Year Fellows, do not count toward this two student researcher limit.

Projects involving development of pedagogical materials will be considered but should lead to a final "product" (e.g., part of a laboratory manual, a paper in a pedagogical journal, a presentation at a professional meeting, a section of a textbook, a comprehensive web site, etc.). Projects in which a student simply does background research for a W&L course will not be considered. The following considerations should be addressed in these proposals:

a) Projects should engage students as full collaborators in the scholarly enterprise.

b) Proposals should specify the significance of the student's contributions to the faculty mentor's research program.

c) The student should be able to demonstrate understanding of her/his role in the proposed project.

d) Proposals should include a clear and convincing statement of the benefits to the student(s) involved in the proposed work.

e) Additional consideration will be offered to those faculty mentors who have sought funding for related research through the Lenfest Summer Grant program or from outside funding agencies.

Guidelines for All SRS Projects:

Duration of Projects: Summer projects may include up to ten weeks of work. The project may not begin before the end of spring term, nor be continued beyond the first day of fall term classes. Funding for additional supplies needed for the project may be requested from the Department Head or in the Lenfest Summer Grant proposal.

Funding: The Advisory Committee determines annually the amount to provide Summer Research Scholars. For the summer of 2019, the combined stipend/living expenses will be $350/week (less applicable taxes). The maximum grant per student is therefore $3,500 for a ten-week period.

International Students:  When projects include international students, the faculty mentor must contact Hunter Swanson in International Education to check whether that student is eligible to be paid.

Housing: All housing arrangements and fees are the student's responsibility. Summer Housing is available from June 1 - July 31. Students who desire this housing should contact the Residential Life Office ( or x8405) as soon as their projects have been approved to assess availability and cost.


Research Report:  All students must submit a final research report, due the first Monday of September. The student, not the supervising faculty member, should write the report. The report should provide an accurate and complete account of all work done on the project, including figures and diagrams if appropriate, and information on publication or presentation plans.   The report should be submitted to with a copy to the faculty mentor.

Poster Session:  All summer Research Scholars are required to present at the Fall Showcase of Student Summer Research, which typically occurs on the Friday of Parents and Family Weekend.

Science, Society, and the Arts (SSA):  Summer Research Scholars are strongly encouraged to participate in the "Science, Society, and the Arts" undergraduate research symposium that takes place at W&L biennially.

Eligibility:  Graduating seniors are not eligible unless funding is available after consideration of all continuing students; no student may receive more than one SRS award during the same summer. Students who receive SRS funding may not be full-time employees of the university (summer program counselors, university store clerks, etc.) during the SRS support period.

Recognition: All students receiving SRS grants will be known as Summer Research Scholars.  Funding for the SRS program comes from a variety of endowed funds.  The Robert E. Lee Research Fund was established in 1960 through a gift from the late Dr. Gustavus Benz Capito, an 1899 graduate of Washington and Lee. Additional support has come from various sources, including the Christian A. Johnson Foundation and the E.A. Morris Foundation. Several outstanding students will receive special designation as Christian A. Johnson Scholars, E.A. Morris Scholars, a Megan E. Rigdon Scholar, or a J. Peek Garlington Scholar.