PI-CASC’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program is designed to provide promising undergraduates the opportunity to gain valuable research experience, improve their skills in climate science, and expand their knowledge of environmental issues in Hawaiʻi and Guam, working with a faculty mentor on a climate-related research project aligned with the mission of the PI-CASC University Consortium. That mission aims to provide the best science available on climate change and other landscape-scale stressors that are impacting natural and cultural resources across the Pacific Basin.

Five students pose standing knee deep in clear bay waters
2023 SURF cohort had a fun and educational day at Coconut Island.

Research project topics that PI-CASC has funded stretch from the mountains to the sea, from forests to fishponds, from rainfall to streamflow, from shorelines to sea levels. The Center also supports building capacity for the future, creating opportunities for students from all ethnic and academic backgrounds to gain important tools for conducting science and knowledge co-production for future research, management, and/or policymaking.

Depending on their location, students who are accepted will be paired with an available researcher at the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) at Mānoa, UH Hilo, or the University of Guam (UOG) whose field of expertise and ongoing research in climate science and/or adaptation complements the expressed interests of the student.

In all its programs, PI-CASC endorses a diverse workforce in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific and embraces individuals of all ages, races, ethnicities, national origins, gender identities, sexual orientations, disabilities, cultures, religions, citizenship types, marital statuses, job classifications, veteran status types, and income and socioeconomic status types and intersectionalities.

Student Eligibility for Surf

This fellowship is open to any undergraduate currently enrolled at any of the UH system campuses or UOG, or currently enrolled at another accredited four-year institution but attended a high school in Hawaiʻi or Guam. All are encouraged to apply.

Program Details and Expectations for Students

Five students pose against work area
2022 SURFers pose after a fulfilling morning of community weeding at Lyon Arboretum.
  • The SURF Program runs for 10 weeks through the summer months (June to August).
  • Fellows must commit to working full-time (40 hours per week) for the entire program.
  • Fellows must attend a half-day orientation, and 2 professional development workshops.
  • Fellows are required to present their research at a final SURF Symposium in August.
  • Fellows are required to write a short reflection on their summer accomplishments and experiences.
  • A generous stipend will be provided in support of 10 weeks of summer research training.

Application Process for Students

Applications for 202X have already been accepted, but for future reference, here is what we request:

  • Cover sheet with
    • name, email, address (campus, summer, or permanent), phone number
    • 3 general areas of interest in climate science, related to natural or cultural resources (e.g. sea-level rise, changes in precipitation/drought, changing forests and watersheds, threats to native species, coastal hazards adaptation, vegetation adaptation, coastal ecosystems, biocultural adaptation, indigenous agroforestry and aquaculture, island hydrology, ridge-to-reef ecosystems, water quality, ecosystem services, coral reef health, ocean acidification, biodiversity, climatology, microbiology, etc.)
  • Current resume
  • Unofficial college transcript (If freshman, please supply an unofficial high school transcript.)
  • 500-word essay on the following topic:
    • What inspired your interest in climate science and adaptation? How would this research fellowship contribute to your current major or planned field of study?
  • Letter of recommendation from a faculty member or mentor familiar with your abilities (This can be sent separately and directly to Dr. Lentz from the recommender.)

Applications will reopen for next year’s session around December/January timeframe, so be sure to check back then for details!

Virtual Information Session

SURF organizers hosted a virtual information session at 2 pm on February 3, 2023 to reiterate details of the program and answer questions from prospective students and mentors. Please watch the video below to see the presentation. Questions were not recorded to protect the privacy of the students.

Contact & Notification

For any questions not covered in the SURF FAQ, please contact Dr. Rachel Lentz at




Dr. Rachel Lentz
Communications Specialist