UTRA Application Tips- Dean Adetunji

  1. What organization and funding programs are you involved with at Brown?

In my role as Associate Dean of the College for Undergraduate Research and Inclusive Science, I oversee the Undergraduate Research office, serve as the Co-Chair for Brown University Engaged Scholarship and Broader Impacts Joint Committee, and oversee wide-ranging efforts linking STEM research, teaching and service with societal relevant outcomes.

I also serve as the executive producer of Science Cartoons (SciToons) production, direct the Research at Brown grant program, and serve as the director of the Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award (UTRA) program.

  1. When is an appropriate time to begin thinking about the UTRA?

We encourage students to start thinking about the UTRA in their first year at Brown. The faculty initiated Interdisciplinary Team (I-Team) UTRA is a good avenue for first year students to get involved with an UTRA project.

The I-Team is designed so that only faculty can submit both initial and final applications. Successful applications go through two rounds of reviews–pre-approval (phase-I) and the final approval (phase-II).

Applications that are pre-approved by the UTRA review committee are listed on the UTRAs website in mid-December so that interested students can read the proposals and contact the faculty through early January to inquire about how they can apply to the faculty’s pre-approved I-Team UTRA projects.

Students selected for I-Team UTRA projects by faculty are included on the faculty’s final I-Team UTRA applications for consideration for the final phase-II approval by the UTRA review committee. Projects of Faculty and students selected for the final approval are notified by mid-January.

  1. What characteristics make an application particularly compelling in your eyes?

Applications which demonstrate strong collaboration between faculty and students; coupled with strong mentoring plan for students are usually very compelling.

  1. 4. Any tips for potential applicants?
  • Attend the UTRA information sessions in fall and spring semesters.
  • Start early to find faculty a collaborator and discuss your proposed ideas with your collaborating faculty.
  • Make sure what you are proposing is feasible during the timeline of your proposal.
  • Consider applying for semester UTRA not just summer UTRA.
  • Proofread your proposal.



Student Spotlight-Michelle Hoang


  • Name: Michelle Hoang
  • Concentration: Biology and English
  • Year: 2017
  1. What type of research experiences and research conferences have you been involved with during your time in college?

Thus far, I have participated in two summer research internships outside of Brown’s campus and volunteered in the Lab for Cognitive Perceptual Learning during the fall semester of my junior year. My summer internships were completely different. In my first experience, I studied treatment-resistant prostate cancer at a private research institute while in my second summer, I conducted an independent project in the neuroscience learning and memory at a large public university.

  1. How did you find out about these opportunities?

I did an extensive Google search and found a database with co-ops and internship opportunities. For my position at Brown, I asked my peers about their previous lab experiences.

  1. What is your favorite part about the research process?

My favorite part about the research is also the most challenging aspect – developing my own theory from prior knowledge. As a university student, most of my coursework involves memorization and rote learning. But, in research, I  go beyond those skills to develop my own ideas. In my most-recent summer internship, the scientists around me taught me the necessary skills to run my own experiments. Then, they told me to design my own never-before-done experiment. The immense freedom involved in that process was wonderful. What I found to be just as important if not more important than background knowledge or critical reasoning ability is creativity. The generation of intellectual property, the development of novel ideas is the most exciting part of research.

  1. What was it like attending and presenting at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students?

Attending and presenting at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students was a whirlwind. I was nervous, overjoyed, enthusiastic, worried, and exhausted all at the same time. First and foremost, it was very affirming to be in a space that acknowledged the struggles of minority students in biomedical research. Often, science avoids the sociopolitical realm, ignoring the needs of the scientists themselves. ABRCMS recognizes that many students face barriers to careers in research and works to alleviate these issues. I met so many other scientists in various different stages in their careers who also faced socioeconomic barriers. Their support and their wisdom was encouraging and very useful.

Additionally, part of ABRCMS is a grad school/career fair. During this time, I was able to network with grad school representatives as well as future employers. Never in my college experience have I attended a career fair that had opportunities for students interested in academia or research.

Lastly, presenting at the conference forced me to understand every minute aspect of my work. I became an expert in my preparations to speak. But also, I learned how to present my research to an audience that had no prior knowledge of neuroscience. It is easy in research to forget about the big picture. I spent 12 weeks, looking at the translation levels of two genes in a sack of neurons in a marine snail. My entire life was about levels of CREB-2 and CREB-1 in Aplysia californica. I was so focused on the minutia involved in my research, but having to present to a wide audience forced me to contextualize these details and to evaluate the importance of my research.

  1. Any advice for students looking to find out what research interests them?

I would recommend that they seek diverse and in-depth experiences. There are so many different types of research – molecular, behavioral, systems, computational, etc. The best way to figure out what research interests them is to get first-hand experience. I also recommend that students do research before they join labs. It is not good for the lab or the student if a student begins research that they are not genuine interested in. Also, I would like to remind others to not get discouraged. Labs are always gaining and losing new members. Finding the right lab is a matter of luck and perseverance.



Undergraduate Publishing Opportunities-Humanities

Take a look at this listing of opportunities to submit for publishing in the fields of English, Literature, or Writing.

Student Journal Publishing Opportunities-ENGLISH, LITERATURE, & WRITING

Application Tips with the CareerLab’s Jim Amspacher

1. What review committees are you involved with at Brown?
Currently on Truman Committee and the Social Innovations Fellowship Committee. In the past I have been a reader for the iProv and LINK awards.

2. When should students begin thinking about these opportunities?
I think most students don’t think about it until the fall of their Junior years. It would be better if they started thinking about it no later than the second semester Sophomore year.
Students have thought about (and applied and won the award) starting in their first semester on campus!
LINK and iProv
Start planning your search and pulling together your application materials over January break.

3. What characteristics make an application particularly compelling in your eyes?
Detailed stories about experiences that make you a good fit for that particular award. Directly and clearly answering the questions in the prompts from the application. Recommendation letters from people who have worked with the applicant on the job/research/project that the recommender is writing about.

4. Any tips for potential applicants?
Make it easy on the reviewers. Narrative is good, but clarity is better.
Seek out MANY advisors/friends/mentors to review your application.

Student Spotlight- Héctor Peralta


  • Name: Héctor Peralta
  • Concentration: Education and Ethnic Studies
  • Year: 2016
  1. What type of fellowship/research experiences have you been involved with during your time in college?

The Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) is a 2-year fellowship that one applies to during the spring of their sophomore year. Its main mission being to increase the representation of people of color within academia and to fortify commitments to social justice-oriented scholarship, the MMUF fellowship provides funding for undergraduate students to conduct an independent research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor at Brown.

  1. How did you find out about this opportunity?

I found out about this opportunity through Professor Evelyn Hu-Dehart in the Ethnic Studies department, as well as through conversations with former Minority Peer Counselors (MPCs) who I would interact with at the Brown Center for Students of Color. When seeking to learn more about the fellowship, I visited Dean Besenia Rodriguez during her office hours, as well as chatted with other faculty on the MMUF Faculty Advisory Committee.

  1. What is your favorite part about being a Mellon Mays fellow?

My favorite part is being part of a community of administrators, faculty and students who are all dedicated to transformational education through progressive and reparative knowledge-production processes.

  1. How has being involved with this fellowship shaped your future goals and plans?

The MMUF has exposed me to the value of pursuing academia as a career, for it provides both flexibility and potential for positive social work. The MMUF was also my bridge to the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) program that I participated in this past summer, and together, these two opportunities have helped me be admitted into some of the top PhD programs in the country.

  1. Any advice for students looking to apply for fellowships?

A simple conversation with your favorite professor or with an upperclassmen who you admire can go a long way. Make sure to tap into that intergenerational knowledge present on college campuses– use your resources wisely, including older people who have experience in fields that interest you.



Student Spotlight- Hawasatu Dumbuya


  • Name: Hawa Dumbuya
  • Field of Study: Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology PhD student
  1. What type of fellowship opportunities have you been involved with during your time as a graduate student at Brown?
    The Ford Foundation’s mission is to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students. The Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research, and who are prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

    2. How did you find out about this opportunity?
    I learned about this fellowship by one of my former peer mentor and alumni from the Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology program,Dr. Teresa Ramirez ’14Dr. Ramirez, who was a 2009 Pre-doctoral Ford Foundation Fellow. She encouraged me to apply to the fellowship since my first year.

3. What is your favorite part about being a Ford Foundation Pre-doctoral fellow?
This fellowship is different from other fellowships. Not only does it financially support you (three years of graduate study support and expenses paid to attend at least one conference of the Ford Fellows), but as a fellow you have access to an amazing network, compromising of previous and current fellows. Every year, the ford foundation plans the Conference of the Ford Fellow, where current and previous Ford Fellows (pre and post-doctoral) reunite. Attendees get the opportunity to present their research, attend academic and professional development workshops, obtain one-on-one meeting with assigned advisor/mentor, and most importantly the opportunity to network! In order to stay connected, they have designed a Ford Fellow Listserv, where individuals’ accomplishments are celebrated, and various job openings are shared.

I attended and presented my research at the 2015 Conference of Ford Fellows, which took place at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, D.C. in late September. 


4. How has being involved with this fellowship shaped your future goals and plans?
As mentioned the Ford Foundation’s mission is to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties. This mission aligns well with my long-term goals, which are to narrow the scientific communication gap that exists between the scientific community and the rest of the society, particularly underrepresented communities. I want to contribute knowledge within the scientific community and to disseminate this knowledge to diverse audiences, through my passion for basic research and community engagement.


5. Any advice for students looking to apply for fellowships?

My advice for students is to apply and start early! Make sure to really understand the guidelines for completing the entire application successfully; to really work on the personal essay, and research proposal (if required); to be very picky in choosing references. Pick individuals who can talk about different aspects of you so that the selection committee can have a full picture of who you really are; and lastly, do not give up if not successful, re-apply!


Smithsonian Fellowships

“This is a list of  current fellowship opportunities at the Smithsonian, sorted by unit. Use this list to get a better sense about where you might like to pursue a fellowship at the Smithsonian; click the links to dig deeper. You can also view all of the Smithsonian’s Fellowships by their deadlines here.”

Fellowship Opportunities

Royce Fellowship Application Tips-Kerri Heffernan

“Established in 1996 through the generosity of Charles Royce, a 1961 graduate of Brown University, the Royce Fellowship Program supports Brown University undergraduates as they carry out independent projects of their own design in locations across the United States and around the world. Along with funding, the program confers lifetime membership in the Society of Royce Fellows, a community of student scholars, faculty fellows, and Royce alumni that offers a forum for reflection, inquiry, and intellectual engagement within the university.

Every spring, up to twenty students at Brown are inducted into the Society of Royce Fellows, each receiving an award of up to $4,000 to pursue a research, curricular development, or public service project of his or her own design. The program seeks to enable undergraduates to explore their developing interests and passions and to extend the ideals of Brown’s open curriculum beyond the walls of the university”

Below are Royce Fellowship application tips from Kerri Heffernan

1. What organization and funding programs are you involved with at Brown (Basically what is your role for someone who doesn’t know you at all)?
I direct the Royce Fellowship. I oversee all aspects of the Fellowship including the application and selection process.
2. When is an appropriate time to begin thinking about the Royce Fellowship?
I think its good to begin thinking about independent research in your second year. It’s smart to understand what your options are for funding and support – and to understand what type of course work and experiences are going to help you craft a successful proposal. The application deadline for the Royce is February – I really encourage students to meet with me to discuss their ideas in October and November, It can take time to hone an idea, build a base of support, understand IRB protocols, get appropriate letters of support and work through multiple drafts.
3. What characteristics make an application particularly compelling in your eyes?
We fund a really diverse pool of student proposals – from bench science to composing an opera. The committee looks for proposals that are well crafted, creative, enthusiastically supported by a faculty sponsor and ‘doable’ in the time frame of the Fellowship. I tend to be drawn to proposals that tell me with great enthusiasm and rigor, why I should care about a nano gold particle, Columbia’s position on climate change or liturgical music in 1940’s New York.
4. Any tips for potential applicants?
Be sure you have a question. Many times students have a good idea but not a real ‘question’. Before applying meet with current or former Fellows and the director to better understand the types of projects that the Fellowship funds. Talk about the scope of work, the expectations for a product and the types of support you can expect.

LINK Award Application Tips-Sarah Brown

“Each year, Brown awards financial assistance to students pursuing unpaid or low-paying summer internships. These awards allow students to explore career options and engage in experiential learning activities outside of the classroom. Students must apply for or secure an internship that is unpaid or that pays $1,000 or less before applying for funds.

The Brown LINK Award Program is funded by Brown alums and parents, the Office of Financial Aid, as well as other Brown departments, and is administered by the Center for Careers and Life After Brown.”


Below are Sarah Brown’s tips for putting together a great LINK award application

1. What organization and funding programs are you involved with at Brown (Basically what is your role for someone who doesn’t know you at all)?
I am the Internships Manager at the CareerLAB, working mostly on the BrownConnect initiative and the LINK/SEW funding process. BrownConnect LINK awards financial assistance to students pursuing unpaid or low-paying summer internships. Students must apply for or secure an internship that is unpaid or that pays $1,000 or less before applying for funds. The Summer Earnings Waiver (SEW) provides additional scholarship to replace the Standard Contribution (SC) from Summer Earnings Expectation that is on some students’ financial aid packages.
2. When is an appropriate time to begin thinking about the LINK award?
Our LINK/SEW application process is open when students return to campus for the spring semester. We traditionally have two deadlines: one in mid-March and another in mid-April. In order to apply for a LINK award, you must have at least applied for the internship you are looking to fund. This means that students need to be conscious of the LINK deadlines as early as January, when they start the internship search. Most internships are posted between January-March, with employers making decisions by April. I would say students need to be thinking about LINK as early as January-early February.
3. What characteristics make an application particularly compelling in your eyes?
The best students applications for LINK funding are those that can really connect all the dots between their academics and extracurriculars at Brown, and the goals they have for themselves post-Brown. We are not looking for students who can definitively say what they expect to be doing once they graduate, but we are looking for students who can make a good case for why the internship they are looking to fund is a great career/experiential learning experience given their current classes, interests, and some of the potential career paths they are considering after graduation.
4. Any tips for potential applicants?
Start early! The best applications are those that have been thoughtfully prepared by the student; they are clear, concise, and well organized. Because LINK is a competitive process, I would highly recommend coming to the CareerLAB’s PCA open hours to have your resume and personal statement reviewed.