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Research has always been a big part of the undergraduate experience at Caltech. Today, it is one of the main reasons why students choose to come to Caltech. Nearly 90% of all students participate in at least one research project before they graduate. Since 1979, SURF has served as the primary way for students to get involved in the research enterprise. There are over 7,000 SURF alumni who have conducted over 8,300 research projects!

SURF and undergraduate research at Caltech relies upon the involvement and generosity of our mentors, alumni, parents, and friends. Thank you for your support and we hope that you will continue to invest in our students.

Funding SURF

Each SURF student receives an award of $6,420 for the ten-week summer period, a total budget of over $2 million. Most of the funds are raised annually from a variety of sources including gifts from individuals; foundations and corporations; faculty grants and other Institute sources; and NASA funds (for students working with mentors at JPL).

The Student-Faculty Programs Office, in partnership with the Advancement Office, raises funds to support Caltech SURF students. Typically mentors pay half the award, and funds raised from private external sources—individuals, corporations and foundations, and the endowment—are used as matching funds.

Please consider donating to SURF

Every gift helps support students' research and summer enrichment activities.

$6,420 supports a one-time SURF stipend in full$3,210 provides for one stipend (with equal cost-sharing from a faculty mentor)$1000 allows for 100 students to attend a faculty seminar luncheon$600 subsidizes the cost of ten students to present at SURF Seminar Day$100 assists one student to attend the Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research to present his or her findings$25 pays for a student to have a networking dinner with a faculty member

SURF Endowments

Individuals or groups may establish an endowment for $125,000 to support one student annually in perpetuity and may be named as the donor designates. There are several ways to establish endowments—they may be paid in full at creation, funded in installments over a period of three to five years, or specified in the donor’s estate plans.

Endowment donors receive special benefits. Each year a student will be selected to bear the endowment name, and the contributor will receive a letter introducing the student and describing the project. If they choose, donors may have the opportunity to meet the students supported by their gifts, and they often receive letters of appreciation from “their” students. Donors are invited to attend SURF Seminar Day to hear the student’s final oral presentation. The Student-Faculty Programs Office notifies endowment contributors when students they have supported win special recognitions or publish papers. Endowment contributors can be proud of the investment they have made in the future of Caltech’s bright and talented students, and they gain the personal satisfaction from playing an important part in the formation of young people, many of whom will make significant contributions to the nation and the world.

For information about establishing a SURF endowment, contact Candace Rypisi, Director, Student-Faculty Programs, 626.395.2886.

Please join us for any of our annual events:

Annual SURF Kickoff Dinner in February/MarchSURF Reunion (as part of Caltech’s Annual Seminar Day) in MayAnnual Donor-Student Dinner in AugustSURF Seminar Day in OctoberVisit campus and meet a SURF! If you will be on campus would like to meet a SURFer, just let us know and we’d be happy to arrange for a meeting.Serve as a session chair or judge at either Summer Seminar Day (August) or SURF Seminar Day (October).

We'd love to have you involved!