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Emory’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience program opens to students across disciplines
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SURE, Emory’s hallmark undergraduate research program during summer break, is expanding access for students in the humanities, arts and social sciences. Applications for 2024 are now open.

— Photo by Stephen Nowland, Emory Photo/Video.

Emory University’s hallmark initiative for undergraduate research during summer break is accepting applications for 2024, and the program is not just for students in STEM majors.

The Emory College-based Summer Undergraduate Research Experience program, or SURE, allows students to conduct independent research with a faculty mentor for 10 weeks. A $3,500 stipend and on-campus housing help support students’ full-time attention to the program. Applications are open on the SURE website through Feb. 4, 2024.

Although the majority of the 86 recipients for summer 2023 were studying STEM fields, students from all disciplines qualify for the competitive program.

“Enhancing the number of students in the arts, humanities and social sciences who will participate in future iterations of SURE will create a more dynamic and diverse scholarly community in which interdisciplinary dialogues can lead to greater problem-solving and thought leadership,” says Dominick D. Rolle, director of Undergraduate Research Programs in Emory’s Pathways Center.

SURE is a continuation of an Emory initiative started 34 years ago to support students in the natural sciences. Emory College combined that program with a parallel initiative in the social sciences and humanities in 2016, emphasizing the current focus on hands-on research, mentorship, networking and preparation for graduate school.

Rolle says building upon the rich legacy of scholarship offered by undergraduate STEM researchers is vital. Undergraduate Research Programs contributes to this “by further expanding opportunity and access to students the arts, humanities and social sciences so they can demonstrate civic leadership by addressing important societal concerns.”

New stipends for humanities, social sciences faculty

In addition to increasing student applications and participation from the humanities and social sciences, Rolle is also seeking to involve more faculty from those areas to work with students.

Unlike many faculty in STEM areas, faculty in the humanities, arts and social sciences often do not have grants to support undergraduate research. For the first time in summer 2024, stipends will be offered to faculty in these non-STEM disciplines (and for faculty in all fields who do not receive grant funding during the summer) to lead students in research, from $1,500 for one student and up to $2,500 for three students.

Joseph Crespino, Jimmy Carter Professor of History and chair of the department, served as a SURE faculty mentor last summer for the first time in several years. He worked with sophomore Daniel Bell on a digital humanities project looking at race, crime, policing and inequality in Atlanta during the civil unrest of the 1960s.

Crespino had already completed some research into the thousand-plus pages of Atlanta records compiled by the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, commonly known as the Kerner Commission.

He assigned Bell to create a timeline for a series of events from the summer of 1967, using Commission documents that included police and FBI reports, eyewitness accounts and participant records.

The timeline will serve as the first step of Crespino’s project, which will tie into other Atlanta projects at the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. It helps fill a gap in the history of the city for scholars and residents alike.

“It’s harder for people to visualize what humanities research looks like,” says Bell, a double major in history and economics.

“But, as soon as I explain this is the work that tells us what was happening behind the scenes in a city that was home to both the SCLC and the KKK, it makes sense,” he adds, referring to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Ku Klux Klan.

Bell enjoyed delving into the archives so much that he has continued to work as Crespino’s research assistant this year. Given that he is considering going into policy work, he especially likes that his research will be available online for others to access in the future.

He and Crespino hope to brainstorm other pieces for undergraduate researchers, in the hopes of building a team of student workers.

“These are research skills that will apply in a lot of professions,” Crespino says. “I encourage students to just talk to their professors in a class they really enjoy and ask how they can get involved. I think the faculty also need to look at ways they can bring students in for meaningful work on their research. We all need to be more creative in getting our undergrads involved.”

For more information, visit the SURE web page.

SURE 2024 applications are open

The Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, or SURE, is a 10-week program that provides students with financial and housing support, allowing them to conduct full-time independent research. Stipends will be available for faculty in the humanities, arts and social sciences this summer to increase access to research in those disciplines.

Applications are open through Feb. 4, 2024. More information is available on the SURE website.

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