SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Experience)

Program Description | Highlights | History and Assessment 

SURE Poster Symposium 2014

Program Description

The Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) at Emory University is a nationally recognized program with a 26-year record of training undergraduates in cutting-edge science research.  During the ten-week summer program, SURE Fellows conduct full-time research, mentored by their lab Principal Investigator (PI) and team of postdocs, technicians, graduate students, and other undergraduates.  SURE Fellows receive an academic fellowship (stipend) and housing on the Emory campus to support their full-time attention to research training, professional development, and training in biomedical research ethics. 

The SURE Program offers the opportunity to develop the scientific skills most important to success in a professional career (designing experiements, problem-solving, interpreting results, communicating one’s science to various audiences, navigating difficult ethical situations).  In addition, it is an opportunity to discuss science and start building your professional network with world-renowned scientists and with your best and brightest peers from Emory and other institutions. 

The capstone of the SURE Program is the Poster Symposium at the end of the summer.  SURE Fellows formally present their work in a symposium well attended by the community at large, as well as faculty of Emory University (Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine, School of Public Health), Georgia Institute of Technology, and other regional universities, who are looking for up-and-coming young researchers. 

Program Funders

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
 provided foundational support and funding for the SURE program from 1990-2014.  The SURE program continues with funding support from the following partners:

Center for Stereoselective C-H Functionalization (CCHF)

Computational Neuroscience Training Grant (CNTG)

Emory Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD)

Endocrine Society Minority Access Program (Endocrine Society MAP)

Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (GDBBS)

NASA Specialized Center of Research (NSCOR)

Oxford College

Pediatric Engineering Research Summer Experience (PERSE)

Summer Undergraduate Program in Emory Renal Research (SUPERR)

 individual research faculty mentors

Find funder/program contacts here.  

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SURE Program Highlights

SURE Ethics Simulation 2014

  • Conduct independent research mentored by graduate students, postdocs, lab team, and Principal Investigator
  • 10 summer weeks at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia!
  • Full-time, 40 hours/week research experience
  • Academic Fellowship (stipend) and on-campus housing
  • Lunches with a Scientist: eat and talk science with Emory faculty
  • Extensive training in biomedical research ethics topics mandated by NIH
  • Professional Development workshop series for success in PhD programs
  • Social & learning community with your best & brightest peers nationally
  • Graduate Student Panel: advice on applying and interviewing
  • SURE Poster Symposium: present your research


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SURE History and Assessment

SURE 25th Anniversary Poster Signing

The SURE Program at Emory University celebrated its 25th year in 2014!  Dr. Molly Embree, SURE Program Director, and Dr. Pat Marsteller, Director of the Center for Science Education, thank the Emory faculty, staff, postdocs, students, and funding partners whose support has allowed the program to flourish.

The 2014 cohort of 100 SURE Fellows were an exceptionally bright and collegial group.  They forged a real community for each other across discipline and 38 different departments at Emory.  Compared to their peers in science undergraduate research experiences (URE’s) nationally, Emory’s SURE 2014 Fellows reported higher learning gains in skills such as interpreting data, recognizing and handling unethical conduct, and presenting scientific work to an audience (Lopatto & Jaworski, 2014).

Since its inception in 1990 under Dr. Pat Marsteller, more than 1500 students (~60% from Emory) and 500 faculty mentors have participated in the SURE program.  Using follow-up survey data and academic transcripts, we gauged SURE's impact on levels of interest in, preparedness for, and actual pursuit of graduate study and professional careers in the sciences for the program's first 15 summer cohorts (1990-2004). Our follow-up survey indicated significant increases in all research preparedness skills considered, notably in ability to give a poster research presentation, to discuss research at a graduate school interview, and to apply research ethics principles. About a third of SURE graduates went on to complete a graduate degree, and over 90% considered SURE as important or very important in their academic development. Respondents reported significant pre/post increases in the level of interest in academic and research careers, and reported high levels of employment in science careers and job satisfaction.

A 2010 publication summarizes the impact that SURE participation has on its alumni:

Promoting Undergraduate Interest, Preparedness, and Professional Pursuit in the Sciences: An Outcomes Evaluation of the SURE Program at Emory University
Junge, B., C. Quiñones, J. Kakietek, and P. Marsteller. CBE: Life Sciences EducationVol. 9, 119 - 132, Summer 2010

...Respondents reported postprogram increases in the level of interest in academic and research careers, and reported high levels of employment in science careers and job satisfaction. Regression analyses of Emory SURE participant transcripts revealed that participants take significantly more science courses as seniors and earn higher grades in those courses than nonparticipants. This trend held after correcting for indicators of prior interest (first-year course work, GPA, and math SAT scores), gender, and minority status.

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