and Creative Scholarship

Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowships

Cal Lutheran is very fortunate to be able to offer this program for the 11th year, thanks to the generosity of Jim and Sue Swenson.  The goal of these fellowships is to have students engage in research that is full-time, faculty-mentored, novel, and presentable outside the university.  The quality of the mentoring from the faculty member is vital as the goal of these fellowships is to advance the students in their professional and personal development.  Projects that are more independent in nature may be better suited for independent study projects.  Projects across a broad range of disciplines are desired, but all must meet the criteria of being research. We will award up to 15 fellowships for the summer.


  • Nominated students may apply for approximately $4,000 that requires that the student participate in approximately 8 weeks of full-time (40 hours per week) mentored summer research with a Cal Lutheran faculty member. 
  • Funds for approved “consumables” can be provided (up to $500). Consumables include printing costs, travel to special libraries, office supplies, chemicals, etc.  Consumables do not include dining costs, books or films, payment for subjects or non-essential travel costs. All expenditures must be approved prior to purchase by the OURCS. 
  • Faculty compensation is $500 per student.
  • On-campus housing is available and students can move in as early as May 14th. The OURCS will provide some housing assistance, but students will have to pay the bulk of the approximately $180/week cost.


This program is open to students in the Natural Sciences who are proposing projects in Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Bioengineering and Applied Physics, Exercise Science, Geology, Environmental Science, Mathematics and Computer Science. Students must be U.S. Citizens.

  • Students must be nominated by a faculty member who can commit to act as the project mentor.  It is expected that the faculty mentor will meet with the student on a regular basis. Faculty and/or students who are not going to be on campus for the majority of the summer should not submit an application. 
  • Research typically begins around May 21st and concludes in mid-late July, but may begin as early as May 14th and may continue through the summer. It must conclude prior to the start of fall classes.
  • Students should not have another job during this time and can take, at most, one summer class.  It is best if the student does not have any other obligations during this time as the intent of this program is to provide a means to allow a student to be fully immersed in the research process.
  • Students must be returning to the university in the fall semester. Graduating seniors are not eligible.


  • It is expected that the student have full ownership of the project and that they are not acting as a research assistant for the faculty member. This must be clear in the submitted application and in the final product.
  • It is important that students become part of the scholarly community on campus during the summer. Students are expected to participate in OURCS-sponsored events which will include social events as well as research-related events. These will occur roughly every other week between May 21st and July 20th. Mentors are strongly encouraged to accompany their students to these events.
  • Prior to beginning the project, the faculty mentor and student will develop a plan which will be shared in writing with the Director of the OURCS.  Students will be asked to meet with the Director to discuss how the project is progressing and for the Director to learn more about each project.  Faculty will also be consulted about the project's progress. Failure to progress appropriately may jeopardize project funding.
  • If projects involve Human Subjects, the IRB Application should be submitted in March. Assistance in the IRB process can be provided from the OURCS. Failure to have an approved IRB application may jeopardize the funding of the project.
  • Each Fellow must present their results of their summer research work at the CLU Student Research Symposium which is held in the fall.  Additionally, students are expected to present at the Festival of Scholars in the spring.
  • Students should plan on presenting at the Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research (SCCUR) which is always held in the Los Angeles area in the fall OR at a discipline-specific professional conference. Students may apply for an Undergraduate Professional Presentation Travel (UPPT) Grant through the OURCS for the costs associated with these off-campus presentations.
  • If possible, faculty and students should work toward publishing their results in a journal within their discipline.
  • Only full awards will be given – students  cannot share a fellowship and cannot share a project.  Each student must have a full-time project that is her/his own distinct project.

How to Apply


 1) Talk with a faculty member. During your meeting, ask about their area of research and what they are currently working on. Ask if working on a fellowship project with them in the summer is possible.

2)  If they agree to work with you, begin thinking about the project you propose.

3) Download the application template, begin writing your research proposal, and answer the application instructions. Start early so you have plenty of time to work through drafts with your faculty mentor.

4) After your faculty mentor has reviewed your proposal, submit it online through the OURCS webpage. You must copy/paste the information from your word document template into the online application.

5) The application that you fill out on the OURCS webpage will send a prompt to your faculty mentor to complete their portion, which asks about their mentoring plan and their previous research students. Your faculty research mentor does not need to submit anything via email. 

6) If you need help with your application or have questions about it, you can make an appointment to talk with someone in the OURCS or ALLIES (Director) offices. The contact information for both offices is below. 


With your faculty mentor, draft an application with the following information (below). A template for the application is available on the main page.  When ready, you can submit a completed application online. Try to avoid using figures or special characters. If you must, you can put all figures in a "figure file" attachment and upload those separately. 

The deadlines for the applications are noted on the fellowship homepage.  Applications received after the deadline will be considered only if funds remain after all other projects are evaluated. 

Note: Use the application template that is available on the main page of the "summer funding" tab. 

Decision Process

All applications for the Swenson Fellowship will be reviewed by a committee composed of Natural Science Division Department Chairs and led by the Natural Science representative to the OURCS Executive Committee.

  • The committee will review and rate applications based on the following four criteria:
    • Sound professional merit/methodology. The application addresses both the specifics of the proposed project and the broad context of the proposed work. An hypothesis-driven research endeavor is expected in science.
    • Doable and likely that the main goals will be accomplished by the student in an 8-week program.
    • Will result in a product that will be presentable off campus at a peer-reviewed venue.
    • The student's talents and background are appropriate for the proposed work, given the guidance likely to be given by the mentor.
  • The Director of the OURCS and the Dean will be consulted as part of the decision-making process. 
  • Faculty with other funding sources (e.g. grants or department funds) will be given lower priority than those without funding sources.
  • Previous project outcomes will be considered in the overall selection process with priority given to those previous projects that resulted in discipline-specific conference presentations or publications.
  • No more than two student awards per faculty mentor will be given.  Only full awards will be given to students – no sharing of projects will be allowed.  Each student will be given a full-time award for their own distinct project.
  • The quality of the writing will be taken into consideration – a well-written proposal will be given preference over a poorly written proposal.
  • Priority will be given to quality projects with the desire of having a wide range of disciplines represented, if possible. 
  • To increase the impact of the program, students who have not previously received a Swenson Fellowship will be given priority over those who have been awarded a fellowship in the past.
  • Additionally, projects that support the university mission will be given priority.
  • Faculty and student interviews may take place, if necessary.
  • Faculty and students will be notified of the status of their application within approximately 2 weeks via email.