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Frequently Asked Questions

What does PRISE stand for?
Why is the Program being offered?
Who is eligible for PRISE?
Does this mean anyone?

Is the Program limited to specific concentrations?
Can I apply to PRISE if I'm a Biology concentrator who's also completed two years of coursework in science?
Can I apply to PRISE if I'm a humanities concentrator who's only done one semester of science coursework?

How important is academic achievement?
Is financial need a factor in selecting PRISE Fellows?
What is the selection committee looking for?
What does " . . . who are also interested in community, diversity, and the advancement of women and minority scholars" mean?
Do I have to be in one of those populations to be eligible?

What are the benefits of participating in PRISE?
Will PRISE help me get into Med School?

Where can I do my research and still participate in PRISE?
Are there any limitations to the kind of research I can do and still be eligible for PRISE?

Can I get housing but not participate in the evening activities?
May I live off-campus?
Instead of the meals offered through Leverett and Dudley Houses, could I get a stipend and cook myself?

Is this research funding?
If I participate in PRISE, may I also get a grant or other award?

Does the Program pay for health insurance?

I am planning to travel during the month of August. Could I miss the last two weeks of the Program?

Is there a strategy for choosing my references?

How does the application cycle work?

What does PRISE stand for?

PRISE stands for the Program for Research in Science and Engineering.

Why is the Program being offered?

PRISE has been developed in response to the May 2005 report of the Task Force on Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), which recommended the development of a summer residential community for undergraduate scholars in the sciences.

This popular Program has been designed to enable motivated undergraduates to pursue summer research and also participate in a social network that will enhance the experience.

Who is eligible for PRISE?

Any continuing Harvard undergraduate (current freshmen, sophomores, and juniors) in good standing conducting research with Harvard-affiliated Faculty over the summer in the Cambridge-Boston-Longwood area is eligible to apply for the Program.

Does this mean anyone?

Yes, as long as the applicant is in good standing in the College.

Is the Program limited to specific concentrations?

No, applicants may be enrolled in any concentration. However, the Program is designed to cultivate a community of science scholars; thus, applicants in non-science concentrations must demonstrate how the research activity they are engaged in will contribute to their development as a scientist. The research fields for PRISE are limited to the life, physical, engineering, and applied sciences.

Can I apply to PRISE if I'm a Biology concentrator who's also completed two years of coursework in science?

Yes. PRISE has been designed to cultivate a community of scholars in the sciences. Any Harvard undergraduate is eligible as long s/he is committed to performing summer research with a Harvard-affiliated laboratory in the life, physical, engineering, or applied sciences.

Can I apply to PRISE if I'm a humanities concentrator who's only done one semester of science coursework?

Yes. Any Harvard undergraduate is eligible as long s/he is committed to performing summer research with a Harvard-affiliated laboratory in the life, physical, engineering, or applied sciences.

However, archival research, clinical activities, and technical laboratory assistance are not considered significant laboratory research for the purposes of this Program.

How important is academic achievement?

PRISE seeks to attract all undergraduates who are motivated to pursue scientific research during the summer.

The only specific criteria with respect to academic achievement are good academic standing and coursework and/or experience that would prepare one for research. The Program will include an academically diverse population. Individuals who have a demonstrated keen interest in the sciences but have not yet had an opportunity to experience laboratory research are encouraged to apply. That is also true of students undertaking a research project for their senior honors thesis.

Is financial need a factor in selecting PRISE Fellows?

Selection of PRISE Fellows will be need blind. Fellows who are required to accrue savings to satisfy a requirement for financial aid eligibility ("summer savings requirement") will receive a PRISE award supplement in the amount determined by the Financial Aid Office. Financial aid recipients are encouraged to apply.

What is the selection committee looking for?

Since a primary goal of PRISE is to develop a diverse residential community of undergraduate scientists, the selection committee is looking for individuals who are likely to contribute and gain from participation in such a community. Selection will be based on applicant responses to the essay questions and comments in letters of reference that the applicant is strongly suited for a successful summer enrichment experience.

What does ". . . who are also interested in community, diversity, and the advancement of women and minority scholars" mean?

One of the goals of PRISE is to generate interest and enthusiasm for the development and preservation of stimulating undergraduate communities in scientific research. Because women and minorities in many scientific disciplines are comparatively underrepresented by significant margins, both in undergraduate populations and beyond, there is an ongoing interest and commitment in the College to foster substantive and enriching opportunities that inspire these students to pursue their emerging professional goals in science fields. In addition, the Program aspires to identify and assist individuals who may not have the opportunity to explore their scientific research interests because of a need to work during the summer.

Do I have to be in one of those populations to be eligible?

No. The Program is designed to attract any continuing undergraduate scientist who is interested in and can contribute to the principles of diverse community involvement.

What are the benefits of participating in PRISE?

PRISE is an emerging, prestigious program, and the next cohort of PRISE Fellows will be a part of the College's high-profile initiative to support undergraduate research..

In addition to free housing and meals for a 10-week portion of the summer, PRISE will be beneficial in a number of ways:

  • The residential community of science scholars will allow Fellows to cultivate an interdisciplinary network of peers with whom they can communicate and collaborate outside the laboratory environment. Many undergraduates do not have the opportunity to participate in this kind of science community until much later in their careers.
  • The Program will allow Fellows to delve into topical and critical aspects of becoming a scientist through evening seminars and activities.
  • The Program will foster and encourage Fellows to explore the many exciting pathways and professional opportunities open to those considering a career in the frontiers of science.

Will PRISE help me get in to Med School?

Obviously, we cannot guarantee that PRISE will have any impact on any graduate school admissions panel. However, PRISE wis a high-profile program that supports summer research, and PRISE Fellows will benefit from the opportunity to develop an interdisciplinary network of peers. Many undergraduates do not have the opportunity to participate in this kind of science community until much later in their careers. In addition, prominent scientists will participate in activities with the Fellows throughout the Program.

Where can I do my research and still participate in PRISE?

Any laboratory in which a Fellow will be conducting meaningful scientific activity overseen by a Harvard Faculty member on the Cambridge campus or research institutes, or in one of the Boston area hospitals or research institutes is suitable. The key is not the lab location but the promise of oversight and mentorship by a Harvard Faculty sponsor.

Are there any limitations to the kind of research I can do and still be eligible for PRISE?

The PRISE participant must be engaged in a laboratory activity that supports scientific research in the life, physical, applied or engineering sciences. Archival research, clinical activities, and technical laboratory assistance are not considered significant laboratory research for the purposes of this Program.

Can I get housing but not participate in the evening activities?

No. Since a key component of the Program is contribution to the community and professional development, participants must be willing and available to attend enrichment activities and events during non-laboratory work hours.

May I live off-campus?

No. All participants will live together in the Harvard Summer Undergraduate Research Village (River House TBA), along with the participants in BLISS (the Behavioral Laboratory for the Social Sciences, PRIMO (the Program for Research in Markets and Organizations), and SHARP (the Summer Humanities and Arts Research Program)..

Instead of the meals offered through Dudley Houses, could I get a stipend and cook myself?

Unfortunately, no. Due to existing programs and refurbishing activities across campus during the summer, the Program is limited to the facilities of the residential house of the Summer Undergraduate Research Village and Dudley. Please also note that weekend meals are not included in the Program and very limited cooking facilities are available in the residential facilities.

Is this research funding?

No. This is participation in a residential community of scientists.

If I participate in PRISE, may I also get a grant or other award?

Yes, absolutely. Individuals who apply to PRISE are encouraged to seek funding for their independent research activities through one of the College's funding mechanisms, such as the Herchel Smith Summer Undergraduate Science Research Program, funding options available through concentration offices, and other programs. In addition, individuals who are working on a significant laboratory project under the direction of Harvard Faculty but are not being paid are also eligible. You may learn that your application for PRISE has been approved before you receive funding. You need only to verify that you have received a commitment from a Harvard Faculty member to oversee and mentor your research activity for the duration of PRISE.

Does the Program pay for health insurance?

As a continuing Harvard College undergraduate, you are covered by your regular Harvard health insurance during the summer.

I am planning to travel during the month of August. Could I miss the last two weeks of the Program?

No. Individuals who are selected for PRISE must commit to the entire ten-week Program.

Is there a strategy for choosing my references?

Three references are required for PRISE.

The first letter is a statement of commitment from your Harvard Faculty laboratory sponsor. This letter should include information about your planned project, and should include an indication of the extent to which the sponsor will be involved in overseeing and mentoring the applicant. (Please note: this letter does not have to be submitted by the PRISE application deadline.)

The second letter is from a residential staff member of your current living community (House or Yard), such as a Dean, Master, Tutor, Proctor, etc., who knows you well. This letter should comment in detail about your contribution and participation in daily residential activities, the likelihood that PRISE as a diverse scientific residential community will, in their opinion, enhance your academic life and possible professional trajectory.

The third letter should be written by someone in the Harvard community who can comment on character, initiative, and interest in pursuing excellence. This letter should include brief but noteworthy examples demonstrating that the applicant will benefit from participation in and contribute to PRISE activities. Freshmen may consider obtaining a letter from someone who knows them well academically or in a research context from before their arrival at Harvard.

How does the application cycle work?

Application instructions are available beginning in mid December. Complete applications are submitted via the Centralized Application for Research and Travel (CARAT), before 5:00 p.m. on February 19, 2014. (Please see "How to Apply" for details and instructions.) The selection process will conclude by the second week of March and applicants will be notified of results before the beginning of April. After an applicant has been selected, s/he must re-verify that her/his research opportunity with a Harvard Faculty member has been secured, and commit to the schedule and activities for the duration of PRISE.