More Successful Apps: 81 Percent of Summer UROPs Find Funding

As of the end of the Spring Term, 335 out of the 469 students who applied for direct summer funding from the Undergradute Research Opportunities Program received funding, according to Melissa J. Martin-Greene, staff associate in the Academic Resources Center. An additional 10 percent of the applicants were funded through non-UROP sources, such as UROP faculty and special departmental funds.

The number of successful applications has increased from last year’s 327 out of 553 projects. This summer, only six percent of those who applied for direct funding remain unfunded, compared to last year’s nine percent.

Michael Bergren, the assistant dean for academic and research initiatives, said, “We’re proud that we have that approach to find alternative means of funding.”

According to Bergren, for summer 2007, the UROP office allocated $1.3 million, or 72 percent of the total funding budget for the year.

“This summer, those who were not funded were not funded simply because of lack of funding,” Martin-Greene said. “There was only one project was not appropriate for UROP.” Students requested an average of $3,975.51 in direct funds, she said.

Summer UROPs are held to the same criteria as those during the Fall and Spring terms, Martin-Greene said. Students must clearly define goals and expectations in their proposals, and all UROP projects must be worthy of academic credit and supervised by MIT faculty, she said.

Martin-Greene said that contrary to popular belief, the amount requested by students for direct funding does not influence the students’ chances in obtaining summer funding. “In fact, we encourage for students to apply for the full amount,” she said. “If a student’s plans change and ends up not working full-time during the summer, he can tell us that he doesn’t need the full amount anymore after the direct funding deadline. However, a student cannot tell us that they need more funding than what they originally requested with their applications if he ends up working more than expected.”

Furthermore, “the UROP office tries to distribute funds as evenly as possible across all departments, research centers, and affiliated research faculty,” Martin-Greene said.

The UROP office funded nine students pursuing UROPs out of the country this summer to promote diverse projects, Martin-Greene said.

To promote diverse projects, the UROP office is also funding several students through the International Research Opportunities Program. “It is like UROP in heart and mind, except with the benefit of working oversees and gaining different insights,” Bergren said.

According to Martin-Greene, most of the nine students participating in IROPs this summer are working at CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory located in Switzerland.

“IROP will provide the strong MIT faculty-student interaction that UROP offers and globalize our research,” Bergren said.

The distribution among classes that received direct funding was fairly even, with about a third of each class receiving funding, according to Martin-Greene. Three percent of non-graduating seniors also received direct funding. Seniors who graduated in June were not eligible for summer direct funding.

Final statistics on the number of funded students will be available after the last summer deadline, on June 21.