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DOC SURF Program (Undergraduate Research)

The Division of Organic Chemistry annually awards summer undergraduate research fellowships (SURF) to outstanding undergraduate organic chemistry students attending colleges and universities in the United States. These competitive fellowships are awarded on the merits of students' research proposals, academic records, faculty recommendations and their passion for laboratory science. They provide support for undergraduates to carry out independent research at their respective colleges or universities in the summer between their junior and senior year under the guidance of a faculty mentor. In addition, the program provides financial support to enable recipients to visit an industrial campus in the fall for a dinner, award session, scientific talks, a tour of the campus and a poster session, where the results of the summer research investigations are to be presented.

The Organic Division of the ACS solicits nominations for Summer Undergraduate Research (SURF) Fellowships. These competitive fellowships will be awarded to a number of talented undergraduates throughout the United States who have been nominated by their departments and selected by an evaluation committee. These fellowships will provide support for undergraduates in organic chemistry to carry out research at their respective colleges/universities in the summer between their junior and senior year. In addition, the program will provide financial support to enable recipients to visit an industrial campus in the fall for a dinner, award session, scientific talks, a tour of the campus and a poster session, where the results of the summer research investigations would be presented. Information on the program and application forms are available below. Support ($5000/fellowship) from companies and individuals for the ACS SURF Program is encouraged. Please contact Matthew Maddess to make an inquiry on how to support this rewarding program.

2015 Sponsors:


The photo was taken of the 2014 SURF Awardees at the Pfizer Worldwide Research & Development, Groton Laboratories, Eastern Point Road, Groton, Connecticut on October 17, 2014.
From left to right: Riley Svec, University of Iowa; Nicolle Doering, University of California, Santa Barbara; Richard Liu, Harvard University; Moises Morales, Washington State University; Alexander Cleveland, Tennessee Technological University; Julia Murphy, Swarthmore College

The 2014 DOC SURF Awardees

Student School Mentor Sponsor
Alexander Cleveland Tennessee Technological University Prof. Jessie Carrick Pfizer
Nicolle Doering University of California Santa Barbara Prof. Armen Zakarian Pfizer
Richard Liu Harvard University Prof. Eric Jacobsen Pfizer
Moises Morales Washington State University Prof. Philip Garner Pfizer
Julia Murphy Swarthmore Prof. Robert Paley Pfizer
Riley Svec University of Iowa Prof. Hien Nguyen Cubist

Previous DOC SURF Awardees

Selection Criteria:

Fellowship recipients will be selected by an Advisory Committee using the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated interest and talent of the student in organic chemistry
  • Merit and feasibility of the research project
  • Commitment of the faculty mentor to support the student in his/her work
  • Academic record, particularly in organic chemistry and related sciences.
  • Demonstrated importance of the award in facilitating the personal and career plans of the nominee.

Nomination process)

The faculty mentor (who must be a member of the Organic Division) must submit the application using the online application form which will include uploading a single PDF file (named using the convention: StudentNominee'sLast Name_First Name-SURF.pdf     i.e. Smith_Jane-SURF.pdf)   consisting of the following items in the following order:

  1. The completed "Student Application Cover Sheet" (page 1 of the application form available as a docx file)
  2. A statement from the nominee describing the importance of this opportunity to his/her personal and career plans (typically 1-2 paragraphs). Indicate how a summer research project fits into your long-range plans. Provide any background about yourself and/or your personal or professional goals that you would like us to know.
  3. A description of the proposed research project, authored by the student in collaboration with the faculty mentor (typically 2-5 pages). Describe the project you propose to undertake next summer. Describe your background that has prepared you to do this work and your proposed methodology. Provide as much detail as possible.
  4. An unofficial transcript of the nominee and a list of courses to be taken during the rest of the current application year.
  5. The completed "Faculty Mentor Cover Sheet" (page 2 of the application form available as a docx file)
  6. A letter of recommendation from the faculty mentor on the qualifications of the nominee to carry out the project successfully.
  7. The completed "Department Chair/Head Cover Sheet" (page 3 of the application form available as a docx file)
  8. A brief letter from the Department Chair indicating that the student is a departmental nominee (there maybe no more than 2 nominees per department) and that the department will provide the necessary equipment, space and administrative support to the project. In the event the faculty mentor is also the department chair, then the faculty member’s immediate supervisor should complete this form.

Student nominees should be U.S. citizens or permanent resident visa holders at the time of application. Applications from minorities are especially encouraged. This program targets current Juniors and they will be given preference. Seniors are not eligible for these fellowships. Applications are to be submitted by the Faculty Mentor who must be an Organic Division Member using the online formNote: Applications are due February 1, 2015. The student nominees are required to be ACS members (their ACS number will be requested) and encouraged to be Organic Division Members. Please be sure the nominated students do not have fall travel/study commitments (i.e. study abroad) that conflict with the poster session, scheduled for September/October.

Applications submitted late, via mechanisms other than the online form, or out of order (as described above) will be disqualified. 

Announcement of the awards is typically made in March.

Questions regarding the program should be directed to Matthew Maddess