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The Discover Grant for Undergraduate Summer Research

The Discover Grant supports immersive, full-time summer research experiences for undergraduate students at the University of Rochester. The goal of the program is to help students get involved in research early in their academic careers and enhance their competitiveness for future fellowships and other advanced research opportunities.

Fast Facts

  • Deadlines
    • Student: 2021 deadline is yet to be determined; usually in late March
    • Mentor and recommender supplements: 2021 deadline is yet to be determined; usually one week after student deadline
  • Purpose: living expense support to be used toward early academic career, mentored summer research projects that are otherwise unpaid
  • Eligibility: University of Rochester undergraduates in Arts, Sciences, & Engineering—with the exception of graduating seniors—working under the mentorship of a University of Rochester faculty member
  • Time requirement: minimum of 300 hours of research-intensive involvement through the summer
  • Funding: $2,500 fellowship to support living expenses. Decisions announced in early April.


Tip! Download the application preview to see and prepare for all Discover Grant application questions. 


  • All undergraduate students who will continue enrollment into Fall 2020 (including December 2020 graduates and T5 or e5 students) are eligible.*
  • Projects of all disciplines are eligible for the Discover Grant; however, they must
    • take place during the summer,
    • be otherwise unpaid (no hourly wage or large fellowship stipend), and 
    • be conducted under the mentorship of a University of Rochester affiliated supervisor.
      • Your UR-affiliated supervisor can work anywhere within the University of Rochester system: River Campus, URMC, the Laser Lab, Mt. Hope Family Center, etc.
      • Independent field or archival work may take you outside of campus walls—for example, a history or political science project that takes you to a research site in Mexico or China. These projects are still eligible, so long as you are working with a Rochester-affiliated mentor to help guide your project.
  • Students engaging in their first research experience are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • From this year forward, students will only be able to receive one Discover Grant during their time at UR. However, for the 2020 application cycle, previous awardees are still eligible to apply.

Not eligible for Discover funding:

  • May 2020 graduates.
  • Programs that include a fee or tuition to participate, including study abroad.
  • Research projects conducted under non-UR-affiliated supervisors. This year, summer research projects mentored by non-UR-affiliated supervisors are eligible to apply for Summer Internship Funding through the Greene Center (application deadline April 9).
  • Entrepreneurial projects. Students interested in entrepreneurship should connect with the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship for a variety of different financial supports.

*Please note: If you are a Research and Innovation Grant (RIG or HRIG) or Meliora Scholars funding recipient, you will be expected to use your RIG or Meliora Scholars funding before you apply for funding from the Discover Grant or other sources.

  • Applications open: January 27
  • Application deadline: March 20 (student application); March 27 (mentor and recommender supplements)
  • Funding decisions announced: April 10
  • Final report/presentation: dates will be shared with award recipients
Application Process
1. Search for and secure a research position.
  • Prior to applying, students must identify and secure mentorship from a University of Rochester faculty member.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to find a mentor—all student application components are due March 20.
2. Apply online before the March 20 deadline, notifying your mentor and recommender EARLY about their application components.
  • The online application consists of a student application, a mentor supplement, and an optional letter of recommendation. Although a letter of recommendation is not an absolute requirement, it can significantly strengthen your application. All other application components must be completed and submitted to be considered for an award.
  • The deadline for the student component of the application is March 20. There is no advantage to early application, so take the time you need to develop the strongest application possible. Late applications will not be considered.
3. Ensure your mentor and recommender complete their application supplements before their March 27 deadline.
  • Identify your mentor and optional recommender early so you can send requests for their supplements through the online student application system well before the deadline.
  • Your mentor and optional recommender may or may not be the same person. Choose a recommender who can speak to your character and fit for research.
Application Components

Want a preview of the online application and its primary components? Download the application preview to compile all of the information you will need to input into the online application. Once you enter the online application, you will be able to save and return, if needed, up until your final submission.

Through our online application system, the STUDENT will submit...

  1. General application: basic information about class year, major, permanent address, recommender contact information, and mentor contact information. Fill in and submit this section first (and as early as possible!) so that you, your mentor, and your recommender can complete the more involved components before the application deadline.
  2. Resume: Please limit to 1 page in PDF format.
  3. Research statement: With the help of your mentor, you will craft a brief project description contextualizing the work, detailing its primary aims, and explaining your role/responsibilities in the project. Keep in mind that your application will be read by a highly educated faculty member who may not be a specialist in your particular field.
  4. Personal statement: The personal statement is a chance for you to share your unique narrative about why this research experience is meaningful to you. In your statement, be sure to consider and address the following questions:
  • Why research?
  • What has led you to wanting to engage with this experience?
  • What is this experience’s relationship to your personal, academic, and professional goals?
  • How and why do you think this experience will meet your expectations?

The student’s UR SUPERVISOR will be prompted by our online application system to submit...

  1. Affirmation that you will not be receiving an hourly wage or large (>$2,500) stipend.
  2. Mentorship and evaluation plan: statement that
  • affirms the mentor has discussed your research plan with you
  • details how you will be supervised and evaluated over the course of the summer
  • explains why they are excited to work with you

Optionally, A RECOMMENDER can be prompted by our online application system to submit...

  1. One letter or statement of recommendation: A staff or faculty member—it may be your research mentor OR someone different, even from outside of the University—will be prompted to submit a brief letter of support by the application deadline. Alternatively, the recommender can enter responses to the following questions in the application’s text boxes:
  • How long, and in what capacity, have you known the applicant?
  • Comment on the applicant’s character. What attributes will they bring to the role of researcher?
  • How do you believe this applicant will benefit from a research experience?

Students and supporting faculty will receive email confirmations after submission of their respective application components. Although this letter of recommendation is not absolutely required, its inclusion can significantly strengthen your application.

Application Evaluation
  • A panel of UR faculty and staff will evaluate complete application packages.
  • Factors that will be taken into consideration in evaluating applications include the merit of the research plan, educational impact of the research experience, and financial need.
  • We anticipate that around 75 applicants will be offered funding. Each award is $2,500.
  • Funding decisions will be announced on April 10. The Office of Undergraduate Research will maintain a waitlist of non-funded applicants, in order of descending application score, in the event that any student offered a Discover Grant withdraws their request or receives alternative funding.
Awardee Responsibilities

Award recipients will be responsible for

  1. Reading these linked instructions regarding tax responsibilities and direct deposit for the $2,500 fellowship.
    International students: your award may be subject to withholding. Though you are likely eligible to apply for a tax refund in the spring through the IRS, please use the instructions provided to minimize any potential withholding.
  2. Participating in periodic programming with other summer researchers, as available. Schedules of these potential events will be distributed to awardees.
  3. Completing a final report or presentation. Discover Grant awardees will be required to either present or submit a report on their summer research. Details and submission deadlines will be shared with award recipients. Students who fail to submit a final project report or present at an available symposium may be required to pay back a portion or all of their summer funding.

Please visit the Discover Grant FAQ page for common questions regarding eligibility, evaluation, decisions, and payment.