When Elsie Sunderland was 17, her hometown on the southern shore of Nova Scotia sought to create jobs for local fishermen—impacted by the collapse of local fisheries—by building a toxic waste incinerator. To alert the community to the potential health impacts of the plan, Sunderland petitioned local politicians, wrote Op-Eds, and launched a citizen’s group. “And that was it,” she was hooked on the environment. “I knew that’s what I was going to do with my life.”
The Center for the Environment’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fund provides financial support for student research projects related to the environment.
In the context of this program, 'environment' refers to understanding the relationships and balances of the natural and constructed world around us, with a particular emphasis on understanding how anthropogenic activities and policies affect the environment, including the intimate relationships between energy use and demand, environmental integrity and quality, human health, and climate change.
The Fund offers two types of support for summer research experiences for Harvard students:
1) Independent Research: The Center supports independent, original environmental research, usually with the goal of supporting a student thesis project. Students must complete an online application including a research proposal that outlines a plan of research in conjunction with a Harvard faculty advisor. Applicants should discuss and develop a research project with a faculty advisor prior to submitting an application. Priority is given to rising seniors conducting honors thesis research, and students participating in research as part of an internship program are not eligible.
2) Research Assistantship: The research assistantship program allows students to participate in more directed summer research experiences under the guidance of a Harvard faculty member. Each winter, the Center solicits a wide variety of research assistant opportunities from its Faculty Associates and lists them here on the program website. Students interested in a research assistantship position should 1) identify an assistantship opportunity of interest to them, 2) contact the faculty member sponsoring the assistantship and meet with them to discuss their eligibility, and 3) complete the online application form.
Award amounts for summer research opportunities are typically between $500-$3,500, and are intended to be applied towards living expenses (room, board), travel expenses related to research activities, and minor research expenses (for students doing independent research projects) for up to 10 weeks. Awards are not intended to serve as a salary stipend for students.
Students applying for HUCE summer research support are strongly encouraged to also pursue other funding possibilities at Harvard:
Harvard College Program for Research in Science and Engineering (PRISE - select PRISE link in toolbar for details)
Note that some of these program deadlines precede the deadline for the application for HUCE opportunities. While applicants are encouraged to seek funding from other sources, they are discouraged from seeking partial funding from each source - instead, they should plan to submit a full, complete project budget to each funding source (i.e., the same total budget amount).
It is expected that recipients of HUCE summer funding will not be engaged in any other research or internship opportunities during the same time frame that they are participating in HUCE-funded efforts.
Are you a HUCE Faculty Associate interested in submitting a research assistant opportunity? If so, please submit a paragraph describing the project and the assistantship responsibilities to Eric Simms.
Eric Simms, Educational Programs Manager
To view independent research projects and research assistantships that have been funded previously, please visit:
The Center gratefully acknowledges Bertram Cohn for his generous support of the Undergraduate Summer Research Fund.