Smith College participates in the  National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program for students majoring in science, engineering, and mathematics. There are two program sites: one at NIST‘s Boulder, Colorado campus and another  at NIST‘s Gaithersburg, Maryland campus. Smith College students participated in NIST SURF in 2016 and 2017  (1 student), 2015 (2 students) and 2014 (3 students).

NIST SURF at Boulder provides opportunities for approximately 20 SURFers. Opportunities are available in the fields of:

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Information Technology
  • Materials Science
  • Physics
NIST SURF at Gaithersburg provides opportunties for appoximately 160 SURFers. Opportunities are available in the following NIST labs:

  • Material Measurement
  • Physical Measurement
  • Communications Technology
  • Engineering
  • Information Technology
  • Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology
  • NIST Center for Neutron Research

Applications for participation in NIST SURF are accepted only from participant colleges and universities, not from individual students or faculty. With assistance from Smith College’s Sponsored Research Office, Fellowships Program and Science Center staff collaborate to prepare an institutional proposal for each program. The proposal includes an institutional application plus materials provided by each student applicant.


  • Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents and undergraduates at a US college.
  • A 3.0 GPA or better is recommended; students with GPAs lower than 3.5 will need exceptional research skills and experience to be competitive applicants.
  • Apply only if  you are available to participate in the full program: Boulder – May 21 to August 3, 2018 and Gaithersburg – May 29 to August 10, 2018. [2019 dates will be updated when available in Dec. 2018.]

Time line

  • By January 11, 2019 contact Margaret Lamb, Fellowships Adviser, Lazarus Center for Career Development, to confirm your interest in making an application. Dr. Lamb is available to talk with you about the opportunity, its application process, and your application materials (, x2582).
  • Interested students send their completed SURF NIST application(s) to Heather McQueen ( with the subject  SURF NIST) by January 25, 2019.

A complete application includes: The completed application form/cover sheet (for Boulder, for Gaithersburg, copies of all relevant college transcripts, current resume, confirmation that two letters of recommendation have been requested, a letter of intent or personal statement, and proof of citizenship/permanent residency. The letter of intent/personal statement should contain information that helps the review committee make an informed decision about the student, such as why the student wants to participate in the SURF NIST program and what areas of NIST research interest the student. Samples of the letter of intent/personal statement.

  • Two letters of recommendation for each application should be sent directly by the faculty member to Heather McQueen ( with the subject SURF NIST) by January 25, 2019. The letters should be addressed to the NIST SURF program.