Faculty-Initiated Projects

When working jointly with eligible CNR undergraduates on a faculty-initiated research project, faculty members may apply for $500 of SPUR funding per student, per semester. The research funding is to be paid to the faculty mentor’s research account to cover part of the project’s supplies and expenses. The amount of available funds vary by term, and funding requests for faculty- and student-initiated projects are reviewed at the same time. For information about mentoring a student-initiated project, please see the About Student-Initiated Projects page for detailed guidelines.

Before You Apply:

Application and Student Selection Process:

Program Requirements:

Continuing with SPUR and Sharing Research:

Regular faculty, cooperative extension specialists, adjunct faculty, faculty emeriti, and lecturers are eligible to submit faculty-initiated projects. However, priority consideration will be given to projects submitted by regular faculty and cooperative extension specialists. Projects from faculty in other eligible categories will be approved if funding permits.

In order to apply for faculty-initiated projects, students must be in CNR, have completed one semester, and a minimum 2.0 overall GPA to qualify for enrollment in independent study research units. Students do not need to be declared in a major to apply. Transfer students are eligible to apply in their first semester at Berkeley.

Faculty are limited to working with two students per term. This includes any students that faculty may be mentoring under a student-initiated SPUR project. Please consult with the SPUR coordinator if you would like to work with more than two students.

Access to the SPUR Website
First-time access to the website may require special authentication from the SPUR Coordinator. After you attempt to log in and it does not work, email spur@berkeley.edu to get authorized. Please notify the SPUR Coordinator to assign access to a graduate student, post-doctoral student, lab manager, etc., associated with the project to assist you with the student review and selection process.

Proposal Submission and the Review Process
When the submission cycle opens, faculty must log on to the SPUR website and select the Submit a Faculty-Initiated Project tab to create a new project. A project title and description, as well as the undergraduate's role and qualifications are required. Once uploaded, the faculty mentor must also log on to approve the student's project in order to be considered.

Research project proposals will be reviewed by a committee comprised of the Assistant Dean, Associate Dean, SPUR Coordinator and Travel Grant Coordinator. Faculty- and student-initiated projects are reviewed at the same time. Faculty will be notified of the committee's decision by email. Approved projects will become available for viewing on the SPUR website during the student application cycle. If your project is posted to the website, you must select from your applicant pool.

Renewing Your Project
Projects are funded for one semester. Faculty must re-submit projects each term. If you wish to continue working with the same undergraduate researcher for 1 additional term , please notify the SPUR Coordinator before the project is posted to the website to be eligible for funding. Student re-hires may only serve on with a faculty member two times during their undergraduate experience. By limiting student participation to two projects, we open the door for new students to gain research experience.

How Students Apply to a Faculty-Initiated Project
Research opportunities for fall, spring, and summer projects will be available for viewing under the Find and Apply to a Faculty Project tab on the SPUR website at the beginning of each term. All interested students are directed to visit faculty members during their office hours to discuss the research opportunities posted. Students may apply to up to three faculty-initiated projects per semester, but may work on only one project.

Students applying to a faculty-initiated project must submit:

  • A Personal Statement describing their interests in, and qualifications for, completing the project
  • A resume
  • An unofficial transcript from CalCentral

The student's application details will appear in the My Projects tab of the SPUR website as soon as it has been uploaded. The student can edit their application up until the faculty member has either accepted them to the project or declined their application.

Selecting a Student for a Faculty-Initiated Proposal
During the second and third week of instruction (see calendar for exact dates), faculty members should review all personal statements, resumes, and unofficial transcripts, and either contact applicants for an interview, or simply accept or decline a student's application. Faculty are encouraged to contact students as soon as the application cycle ends so that students are notified of their status in a timely manner. Please remember that SPUR is meant to serve as a research exposure opportunity for students. SPUR opens the door for more research down the road. Selecting students should be based on potential, not on student's previous research experience.

Enrolling in Research Units
The SPUR program requires that participating students enroll in research units by the end of the third week of instruction. Funds are not released to faculty mentor accounts until the SPUR coordinator has verified that all students are enrolled in units.

The student must complete the Sponsored Projects For Undergraduate Research (SPUR) Form. The department on the form must correspond to the faculty mentor's department. The number of units are determined between the student and faculty mentor and the SPUR Coordinator will confirm with the faculty mentor the number of units the student should earn prior to enrolling students into the unit(s). One unit is the equivalent of three hours of research to be conducted per week. 199 units may only be taken on a P/NP basis.

During the summer term, students are not required to enroll in units. In lieu of enrolling in units, students may submit a SPUR Summer Learning Contract, signed by their faculty mentor, to the SPUR Coordinator no later than the last day of instruction of the preceding spring semester. For an overview of summer application deadlines, please see the calendar.

Access to SPUR Funds
During the fifth week of instruction, the SPUR Coordinator verifies that the student has enrolled in the required units before SPUR funds are awarded. The appropriate departmental and Dean's Office financial officers will also be notified of the amount of funding being awarded to each project. The SPUR grant will be transferred to the faculty mentor’s research account during the 7th week of instruction. During summer terms, a Summer Learning Contract is acceptable in lieu of enrollment in units.

Final Grades and End of Semester Report
Students and faculty are required to provide feedback on their experience with the SPUR program. These reports are submitted online through the SPUR website. With the researchers’ permission, feedback may be shared with the CNR alumni who donated the funds that support the SPUR program. End of semester reports are due on the last day of instruction. See the deadlines calendar for exact dates.

Faculty are also required to submit final grades for the students’ independent study research course during the fall and spring semesters. As students are not required to enroll in units during summer session, a final progress report should be submitted to the SPUR Coordinator by the faculty mentor in lieu of a final grade, to indicate satisfactory work.

Sharing Research with the CNR Community
Undergraduates benefiting from this collaboration with faculty mentors and from the generous financial support of CNR alumni may share their completed or in progress research project with the CNR community in the form of a research poster. Participation is mandatory for students working on a student-initiated SPUR project.

The research poster summarizing the project and (expected) results may be presented at the fall or spring Poster Session. The SPUR Coordinator will send out information regarding poster session dates, registration, and printing, and we encourage mentors to assist students with their research posters.