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Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow (SURF) Award

For web.jpg

2018 SURF fellows at the 4th Annual Mini Symposium held on August 2, 2018.  From left to right: Brenna Kirkpatrick, John Holton, Kenneth Booker, Dede Golda Gbikpi-Benissan, and Erin Conley

The College of Pharmacy at UIC invites undergraduate students to apply for the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program. The objective of this program is to introduce undergraduate students to biomedical research in order to heighten interest in science as a career and increase the number of young scientists entering the biomedical research disciplines.

The SURF program is located on UIC’s West Campus, in the center of the Illinois Medical District--one of the largest concentrations of advanced health care facilities in the nation-- and just minutes from downtown Chicago. Our location gives us convenient access to a diverse range of cutting-edge research, collaborators and patient populations.

The SURF Program is funded by an institutional award from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).

Program Dates:

The SURF program runs for 10 weeks, starting on Monday, June 3, 2019 and ending on Friday, August 9, 2019.

SURF Program Description

ASPET-sponsored SURF program is for undergraduate students interested in biomedical research.  Students will work on independent research projects in the laboratories of their faculty mentors.  Before beginning work, students will attend relevant laboratory safety training.  In addition to individual mentoring, the program offers number of enrichment activities:  research seminars, advanced research instrumentation workshops, career day at a local pharmaceutical company, instructions on how to prepare a scientific presentation, practice talks and  a mini-symposium where all the participants present their research projects in front of the College audience.  Download a sample schedule for details of 2018 program.  SURF participants will receive compensation of $3,000 for the 10 week period. 

The 2019 Application Cycle is now closed!   Please check back in October for the 2020 SURF program information.

Download the flyer.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Sophomores or juniors majoring in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or related field.
  • GPA of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
  • Students should have a strong desire to pursue an advanced degree (PhD or PharmD/PhD) and must be available for the full 10 weeks of the program.
  • The program is open to all US Citizens and Permanent Residents. Undergraduate students from groups underrepresented in health-related sciences, i.e. individuals from ethnic or racial groups (African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Alaskan and Hawaiian Natives); individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and individuals with physical or mental disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. 

Application Components and Process:

  • Application form. Download the form and instructions.
  • Personal statement
  • Transcripts (unofficial are acceptable)
  • 2 letters of recommendations
  • Submit completed application form, personal statement, and transcripts as a SINGLE PDF file by e-mail to by February 1, 2019.
  • Request that your letters of references are e-mailed to by February 1, 2019.


All effort will be made to notify applicants no later than April 1, 2019 regarding their status. Applicants chosen to participate in the 2019 SURF program will be sent an offer letter via e-mail.

Contact Information

Please contact us by e-mail to

Previous Recipients

To see the previous recipients, mentors, projects and Mini Symposium photos, please visit the Previous SURF Recipients page

Program Mentors

Mentor Research Area

Joanna Burdette

Ovarian cancer; Drug discovery
aaa_eustaquio.jpg Alessandra Eustaquio Drug discovery and development; Biosynthesis; Synthetic biology; Microbiology
aaa_hanakahi_0.jpg Les Hanakahi DNA repair and cancer biology; Drug target discovery
aaa_yjeong_0.jpg Hyunyoung Jeong Drug metabolism; Pharmacokinetics
jeremy_johnson_0.jpg Jeremy Johnson Preclinical evaluation of natural products for cancer treatment and prevention
Lee S_v2-2.jpg Steve Lee Tumor microenvironment; Cancer immunotherapy; Drug Delivery
aaa_shura_0.jpg Alexander Mankin Mechanisms of antibiotic action
F. Morahedzadeh-2014-4-1.jpg Farah Movahed Zadeh Antibiotic-producing microbes
aaa_moore_0.jpg Terry Moore Drug Discovery; Medicinal chemistry; Therapeutically important protein-protein interactions
aaa_btmurphy_0.jpg Brian Murphy Drug discovery from aquatic microorganisms
Nitiss J 150_0.jpg John Nitiss DNA topoisomerases as targets for cancer chemotherapy
aaa_orjala_0.jpg Jimmy Orjala Drug discovery from cyanobacteria and plants
aaa_ddthomas.jpg Douglas Thomas Cancer etiology; Cancer-causing epigenetic modifications; Oncogenic proteins
debra_tonetti_0.jpg Debra Tonetti Pharmacology of breast cancer
nora_vazquez.jpg Nora Vazquez-Laslop Mechanisms of antibiotic action

Z. Jim Wang

Program Director

Pharmacology of chronic pain and drug addiction