SURF Frequently Asked Questions

No, you do not.  This is one program with two different funding tracks, hosted by PI-CASC and Hawaiʻi Sea Grant. There is one application for both tracks, with your ultimate mentor pairing helping to us decide which track to associate you with. Be sure to select your top two topics of interest, though, to help us try to arrange a suitable mentor for you.

There is a step-by-step set of instructions in the Student Details Information Sheet (page 3) that should help you through. If you run into trouble or have any other questions, you can reach out to Dr. Rachel Lentz ( or Dr. Hal Rickman (

4-8, depending available funding, quality of applications, and availability of mentors.

We will be conducting interviews for finalists in March, and we hope to let selected students know by the middle of April if they will be in the program. But we want to have a mentor match fixed before letting the students know, so sometimes that might not match our timeline. If you have time constraints (because of other opportunities), please let us know.

No, sorry, we supply the stipend, but can’t also cover housing and transportation.

Depends greatly on what the project is and with whom. We expect full time work (as close to 40 hr/wk as possible) but that may include field work, lab work/sample analysis, data analysis, literature searches, modeling, etc.

We select the best undergraduate candidates for the program and try to find, from applications and personal communication, mentors who work in similar fields to the students’ interests. We suggest to the mentor the student who we want to match them with and then with their approval, let the student know they have been selected.

If there is only a mediocre match to the student’s interest, we ask the student if they would be interested in participating in that project, despite it being a bit remote from their expectation. If not, and we can’t find a better match, we regretfully pass on accepting the student into our program.

So far, we have only assigned one fellow per mentor, but that doesn’t mean there may not be others that the SURF fellow will interact with on the project. Depending on the layout of the mentor’s research group, there may be post-docs, graduate students, or even other undergraduates that the SURFer may work with as they complete their fellowship.

Usually the mentor has a broader ongoing research program, and some element is appropriate for an undergraduate joining the team for the summer to help work on. Sometimes that is a more complete project. For others, it may be helping set up conditions for further work, which has led to several SURF students staying on with their mentors for further work into the following semesters (if they are at UH Mānoa).

SURF logo with the acronym, a curled wave, and elements from PI-CASC and Hawaiʻi Sea Grant logos