News Story

September 9, 2020
HUCE Communications

HUCE Summer Undergraduate Researchers Reflect


By Jillian Murphy, Harvard University Center for the Environment

This year, the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE), awarded 92 undergraduate students with research grants through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF). This large number of awardees—about four times the usual number—was made possible by faculty members who stepped forward to both help mentor and fund students, the generous donations of Bert and Barbara Cohn, Robert Ziff, John Winthrop, Peter Lehner, and the Diker Family Fund for Energy and Environment, as well as the following participating programs: Harvard College Research Program, Program for Research in Science and Engineering, Solar Geoengineering Research Program, Oceanography Committee, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Department of Nutrition. 

HUCE's SURF 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 restructured 2020 summer program, designed for students to work remotely from their spring sequester locations, supported a variety of remote research situations. Student applicants were encouraged to look through the HUCE research assistantship opportunity list and consider submitting an application with their top five preferences. In addition, they were given the opportunity to contact a HUCE Faculty Associate to propose a research assistantship separate from this list. With the help of the aforementioned funding, participating programs, and willing faculty, SURF was expanded in response to the pandemic to help a much larger group of students, many of whom found themselves without many of the opportunities that they had planned on. Of the 92 awards offered, 8 were for independent research and 84 were for research assistantships with Harvard faculty. The 2020 cohort is comprised of undergraduate concentrators in Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Engineering, Computer Science, Visual and Environmental Studies, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Statistics, Mathematics, Economics, English, and Environmental Science and Public Policy. 

At about the halfway point of the generally 8-week project timeline, HUCE reached out to all participating students to find out how their summer research was going and to get a glimpse into their remote worlds through pictures of them at their works stations. Below are the students who participated in the social media series that came out of their responses. 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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