Virtual Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program at Gaithersburg

Gaithersburg, Maryland
Jan 12, 2022
Jan 20, 2022
Full Time

The SURF Program provides research opportunities for students to work with internationally known NIST scientists, to expose them to cutting-edge research and promote the pursuit of graduate degrees in science and engineering. SURF gives students an opportunity to:
  • Gain substantive career experience related to your academic interests,
  • Acquire lifelong leadership, management, and analytical skills,
  • Learn about a career in public service,
  • Build professional relationships, contacts, and networks, and
  • Observe the daily operations and working environment of a premier federal laboratory.

Imagine yourself in the NIST laboratories.

NIST seeks students from a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines including (but not limited to) biochemistry, biology, biophysics, chemistry, computer science, engineering, materials science, mathematics, nanoscale science, neutron research, physics, and/or statistics. Students work under the guidance of a research mentor in the NIST operating units (OU). The following OU's participate in the SURF program: Communications Technology Laboratory (CTL), Engineering Laboratory (EL), Information Technology Laboratory (ITL), Material Measurement Laboratory (MML) in partnership with the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR), and Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML). As part of the application process, all students are required to identify and select first and second choice host laboratories where they would like to be considered for a possible placement. Laboratories should be chosen carefully, because the completed application is considered primarily by the first choice host laboratory.

Due to the multi-disciplinary nature of NIST's research, we encourage students to look through the different laboratory websites to discover lots of interesting project areas. For example, a chemistry student may find project opportunities in ITL, PL, and EL in addition to the logical choice of MML/NCNR. Similar opportunities exist for those in other disciplines. For a detailed description of SURF projects in each NIST laboratory and prior summer acceptance rates, students are encouraged to review laboratory descriptions and acceptance rates at .

While duties and responsibilities may vary by laboratory, all accepted students must:
  • Work remotely in the United States during the entire appointment
  • Attend a virtual technical seminar series
  • Participate in extramural group activities intended to enrich their fellowship experience
  • Compose and submit an abstract half-way through the program summarizing research accomplishments
  • Deliver an oral presentation SURF during the final week of the program


Conditions of Employment

To be eligible for a fellowship, all of the following requirements must be met:
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or U.S Permanent Resident,
  • Must be at least 16 years of age.
  • Currently enrolled as a full-time degree-seeking student at an accredited institution in the U.S. and its territories. Seniors graduating in May 2022 are eligible to apply to the program.
  • Must be in good academic standing (recommended 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale)
  • Able to pass background check.
  • Receive payments by direct deposit.
  • Verify proof of health insurance


We are looking for students who are interested in gaining valuable, hands-on experience, working with cutting edge technology in one of the world's leading research organizations. Additional preference will be given to students who possess the following qualities:
  • Interest in conducting technical research in a remote location.
  • Current enrolled undergraduate (freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior) at a 2-year or 4-year institution of higher education in the U.S. or its territories at the time of application. Graduating seniors may apply to the program and must be a registered undergraduate at the time of application.
  • Pursuing a STEM related major including but not limited to biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, materials science, mathematics, nanoscale science, and/or physics.
  • Considering pursuing a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) graduate degree (M.S. or Ph.D.).
  • Commit to eleven (11) full continuous weeks, or a minimum of nine (9) full weeks (Monday through Friday) during the summer of 2022 to participate in the SURF Program. Due to the length of the program, students are not permitted to take vacation.

We especially encourage applications from groups underrepresented in STEM, including those who self-identify as a woman, African American, Black, Hispanic, Latinx, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, person with a disability, and/or LGBTQI+.


  • Currently enrolled as a full-time degree-seeking student at an accredited institution in the U.S. and its territories.
  • Required to be an undergraduate majoring in a STEM discipline such as biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering (including nuclear), materials science, mathematics, nanoscale science, and/or physics
  • You MUST provide transcripts or other documentation to support your educational claims. Unless otherwise stated, unofficial transcripts are acceptable which display current enrollment status. All materials must be submitted by the closing date of the announcement.

Additional information

  • If selected, you are required to complete a background investigation suitability check.
  • Males born after 12-31-1959 must be registered or exempt from Selective Service (see
  • Must be 16 year of age
  • Must be able to works 40 hours/week, Monday through Friday during the fellowship appointment.