National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)

$5,500 for summer research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

NIST is one of the nation's premiere research institutions for the physical and engineering sciences and, as the lead Federal agency for technology transfer, it provides a strong interface between government, industry and academia. NIST embodies a science culture, developed from a large and well-equipped research staff that enthusiastically blends programs that address the immediate needs of industry with longer-term research that anticipates future needs. This occurs in few other places and enables the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST), Communications Technology Laboratory (CTL), Engineering Laboratory (EL), Information Technology Laboratory (ITL), Material Measurement Laboratory (MML), NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR), and Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML), to offer unique research and training opportunities for undergraduates, providing them with a research-rich environment and exposure to state-of-the-art equipment.

The NIST Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program sponsors  a 11-week summer internship program for undergraduate students enrolled at U.S. 2-year and 4-year institutions majoring in chemistry, computer science, engineering, materials science, fire research, nanotechnology, information technology, mathematics, biology, manufacturing, statistics, or other STEM discipline. The program provides students with hands-on research experience under the mentorship of a NIST scientist or engineer in Boulder, CO or Gaithersburg, MD. Students can work on projects in any one of the seven NIST facilities:

  • Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology
  • Communications Technology Laboratory
  • Engineering Laboratory
  • Information Technology Laboratory
  • Material Measurement Laboratory
  • NIST Center for Neutron Research
  • Physical Measurement Laboratory

Deadline Information

Deadline: Friday, February 19, 2021

Eligibility Requirements

Citizenship Requirements

The program is open to United States citizens or U.S. permanent residents only.

International students are not elgibile to apply to the SURF Program.

Classification Requirements

Applicants must be enrolled as undergraduates in U.S. Colleges or Universities as of the application deadline date. Successful applicants must make arrangements to receive their fellowship and stipend funds from their educational institutions.

Note: Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents and enrolled in universities outside the United States, are not elgibile to apply to the SURF Program.

Academic Requirements

Students must have a G.P.A. of 3.0/4.0 or better (recommended), and are considering pursuing a graduate degree (M.S. or Ph.D.). Students with physics, material science, chemistry, applied mathematics, computer science, or engineering majors are always encouraged to apply. There may be research opportunities for students with other majors.

Application Process

Applications consist of a student component and university component:

  • Student Component - Students must complete the following application components and submit to the university contact for inclusion in the institution application.
  1.  Application Checklist         
  2. Student Application Form                                                                                                                                 
  3. Resume (example resume)
  4. Transcript - Please submit unofficial transcripts only.
  5. Two letters of recommendation - Please request the letters from individuals who are knowledgeable about your academic achievements and research experience. Feel free to ask your professors (current and past), research mentors, or internship supervisors. 
  6. Letter of intent or personal statement : The letter should contain information that helps the review committee make an informed decision about the student, such as why the student wishes to participate in the SURF program in Gaithersburg, Maryland and what areas of NIST research interest the student. (example personal statement)
  7. Proof of U.S. citizenship or U.S. permanent residency: Proof includes a copy of an unexpired U.S. Passport, birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or unexpired green card. 
  • University Component - The institutional representative completes the proposal and financial forms and submits them with the student application via Grants.Gov. 
  1. Federal Forms - SF-424, SF-424A, SF-424B, CD-511, and SF-LLL (optional)  (see instructions)
  2. Proposal - Provides background information about the academic institution such as degree programs, university accolades, and the names/description of students nominating to participate in the program. (see sample proposal)
  3. Submits Items 1 and 2 in addition to the student application component via Grants.Gov.