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Direct Summer UROP Funding Distributed

By Marie Y. Thibault

In the month since the April 13 deadline to apply for direct summer funding from the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, 327 of the 553 students who requested direct funding have received notification that they will be receiving funds from the UROP office, according to Melissa J. Martin-Greene, staff associate in the Academic Resources Center. In addition, 121 of the 226 students who did not receive direct funding have gotten it from other sources, such as a UROP supervisor or a department.

Both of those numbers could increase, but the number of students who receive funding from other sources is expected to increase more than those funded directly, Martin-Greene said. The majority of students will receive funding from some source, she said.

Last year, only two percent of the 377 students who applied for direct funding did not receive funding from any source, said Michael Bergren, academic dean for academic and research initiatives. The UROP office has an annual budget of $1.4 million, which comes from donations, institute funds, and endowed funds. Any undergraduate student who has an approved UROP supervisor is eligible for direct funding, Bergren said.

According to the UROP Web site, there are four ways to participate in a UROP. A student may apply for direct funding or supervisor funding, work for elective credit, or volunteer. The majority of funded UROP students are funded by their supervisor, according to the Web site.

A number of factors influence whether a student will receive direct funding. Martin-Green said that the UROP staff considers the quality of the proposal and whether the project seems appropriate for a UROP. The size of the research group that the student will be working with is also a factor, Martin-Greene said, since if there are too many students already working with a faculty member, that faculty member may not be able to fund another one. In that case, the student may be more likely to receive direct funding from the UROP office.

Martin-Greene did say that the funding decision is not affected by who the faculty supervisor is, or whether he/she is MIT faculty or MIT-affiliated faculty. So, students working with MIT-affiliated faculty in the Health Sciences & Technology (HST) department who are not MIT faculty members are given the same consideration as students working with MIT biology or chemistry faculty, she said.

Nikolai D. Begg ’09, who received direct funding for his summer UROP, said that he will be observing surgeries that use new technologies at The Children’s Hospital of Boston, categorizing any complications that arise.

Begg also said that it seemed to him that many freshmen with what he thought were good proposals didn’t get funding.

Martin-Greene said that though “we [UROP staff] haven’t crunched the numbers on classes … we support freshman UROPs.”

The final statistics on the number of funded students will be available by the beginning of June, Bergren said.