Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters Pilot Program

New Opportunity to Recruit Paid Undergraduate Research Assistants, Summer 2023 -- All Research Faculty and Staff Eligible!

Priority Deadline: April 30, 2023
To be considered during the priority application period, please complete your application prior by April 30, 2023.

The Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters has given Utah State University’s Office of Research Student Programs the unique opportunity to pilot a summer intensive intended to help build the pipeline for research across the disciplines.

Summer research opportunities for Utah State undergraduates are numerous and diverse but tend to focus on more advanced students who are already working at a high level. This means that students who stand to gain the most from exposure to research (especially first- and second-year students and those transitioning from a 2-year to a 4-year degree program) may be shut out of opportunities during the summer months, when paradoxically they have the most time to explore research. Furthermore, for many faculty on a 9-month appointment with significant teaching loads, mentoring student researchers during summer months may not be appealing, as this is the only time during the year that they have to devote to their own research and writing. Therefore, this proposal focuses on funding entry-level research experiences for students in support of faculty-led research, especially in areas where external sources of funding for student research support are limited or unavailable.

Leveraging existing support for summer research that the Office of Research Student Research Program has in place, the Undergraduate Research Assistantship program will allow faculty to identify students in their first or second year, as well as internal or external transfer students entering as juniors to work as research assistants for a 10-week period during the summer. Faculty mentors will benefit from “Entering Mentoring” trainings, and students will participate in an “Entering Research” workshop. In addition, students and mentors will be invited to join in summer workshops and networking events offered more broadly to the UR community on campus.

An advanced undergraduate student researcher will also be appointed as the “peer group mentor” for the summer – this student will help with program implementation, meet with students individually and as a group, and gain valuable mentoring experience. The peer group mentor will themselves be mentored, and will receive an equivalent scholarship to that received by program participants.

The goal is that the success of this pilot program will motivate future donors to support similar opportunities moving forward, especially as we look to the fiftieth anniversary of undergraduate research at USU. To this end, an end-of-program report will examine outcomes and participation.

Financial Award

  • Each student (including the peer mentor) will receive $2000 in an unrestricted scholarship, with up to $1000 travel funding to attend professional conferences, including the UASAL conference in March 2024.
  • Faculty mentors will receive a $1000 research spending stipend.


  • All faculty mentors will be required to attend three 1-hour trainings (these may be virtual) related to mentoring best practices.
  • All student participants will be required to attend three 1-hour trainings (these may be virtual) related to researcher identity formation
  • Students will be involved in research activities 10 hours/week during the period of the assistantship
  • Students do not need to be enrolled for summer 2023 if they are enrolled for fall 2023
  • At the end of the summer, the faculty mentor and student must submit a report together, documenting learning outcomes and research outcomes
  • Students are required to submit an abstract for the 2024 Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters Symposium at SLCC
  • Students are required to present their research involvement at our Fall or Spring Student Research Symposia in AY 2023-2024 with credit to UASAL on their poster
  • Faculty publications and presentations benefiting from the assistance of a student will credit UASAL in the acknowledgements

Other Benefits

  • Students and faculty will be included in all summer 2023 UR events and trainings
  • Student participants will be invited to attend the Fall 2023 Research Explorations series (our new orientation series for student researchers)
  • Faculty receive research support during critical summer months


  1. Faculty member submits a proposal via Qualtrics that outlines the following
    1. The research project to be supported and its current status (funded, unfunded, where it is in the development process, publication cycle, etc.)
    2. How a research assistant will benefit faculty member’s research program
    3. How the research assistant will benefit from the opportunity
    4. Specific role that a student research assistant with little to no experience will fill. What tasks will the student be responsible for? What skills will they learn? For what corner of the project will they develop ownership or stewardship?
    5. Brief recruitment plan: identify the pool of eligible students, and how they will be made aware of the opportunity.
    6. Research dissemination plan: what publications, presentations, performances, exhibitions, etc. are projected, and what role would the student assistant have in these?
    7. Draft mentoring agreement – what are the expectations (time, communication, scope of work, etc.) for the student assistant?
    8. How will the student’s experience result in a shareable research presentation? This does not have to be an independent project, but rather some kind of poster or short oral presentation that documents their research engagement and learning.
  2. Office of Research committee determines recipients
  3. Recipients have a defined amount of time to recruit a student and identify that person to the Office of Research. The student must be entering their first, second, or third year of college, and must be early in their research engagement; if no student identified, a runner up recipient will be selected.