Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) Student Information

SURF provides students a summer of intensive paid research with faculty.

Application Steps

  1. Read the student eligibility and fellowship expectations to see if you are a good fit for SURF
  2. Read the available SURF projects
  3. Email the faculty leading the project you plan to apply for to determine if you are a good fit. Do this before you apply.  
  4. Complete the application. The summer 2023 application will open closer to the date. The application will close Friday week 1 of spring quarter, which is April 7th, 2023.

Student eligibility 

  • Admitted Evergreen undergraduates who will not have graduated before the summer of the fellowship.
  • In good academic standing with no registration holds at the time of award.
  • Eligible for student employment at Evergreen.

Fellowship expectations

  • Work on the project 20 or more hours per week
  • Work 12 weeks (mid-June through mid-September). Fellows may make flexible schedule plans with faculty. 
  • Participate in:
    • an opening reception for the program in June 
    • activities with other fellows during the summer
    • presentations of their work at a fall event
    • participate in other events throughout the year as requested
  • $3,700 stipend will be awarded after the successful completion of summer quarter. 


2022 SURF Projects

(PDF of all SURF projects with detailed information)


Organic Tomato and Winter Cabbage Field Trial: Yield, Sensory Assessment, and Disease Resistance 

Faculty Names: Sarah Williams, Angelos Katsanis, Steve Scheuerell 

Faculty Email:

Description: This field research project facilitates learning of field plant trials, health management, agronomy, and sensory assessment protocols in relation to the movement for inclusive, just, sustainable, and participatory food and ag practices. The project will follow the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC) research specifications to address organic seed, plant breeding, production, and culinary concerns. The student will gather data on tomato and winter cabbage varieties regarding growth habits, disease, and insect pest infestations. Data also will be gathered on the maturity and grading of harvested tomato fruit and cabbage heads, picking ease, flavor profiles, and overall yield and harvest potential. Fall and winter quarter tasting labs will use the sensory assessment protocols developed by Lane Selman, Oregon State University, for the Culinary Breeding Network, including attention to seed sovereignty, political economy, and community-based food systems. 

The fellow will gain a capstone project experience. The Food and Ag POS will utilize the project documentation for recruitment and retention. Participation in a national field trial will enhance our curriculum by creating: connections with participating institutions, produce for sensory assessment labs, and an on-campus field research site for demonstrating design, plot maintenance, data collection and analysis. A video from our 2019 field trial is featured on NOVIC national website. The role of participatory field trials in food and ag education will be featured in a roundtable of Evergreen students, alumni, and faculty at the 2022 Organic Seed Growers Conference.


Hydrogen Peroxide Dynamics in Puget Sound 

Faculty Name: Robin Bond 

Faculty Email:

Description: Hydrogen peroxide is present in all natural water systems and has been linked to phenomena such as the breakdown of organic matter and trace metal cycling. Scientists are still trying to determine the factors that govern hydrogen peroxide production and decay in environmental systems. Studies to date have been performed in the open ocean as well as in freshwater systems, but none have been performed in estuaries.

In this project, a student will study water chemistry in Puget Sound, comparing different areas such as Eld Inlet, Budd Inlet, and Nisqually. The student will examine hydrogen peroxide dynamics (production and decay) in filtered and unfiltered water samples using flow-injection/chemiluminescence analysis. The student will also perform geochemical characterization of sample sites to help understand what makes each estuary unique. 


Laozi and the Guardian of the Pass; a new translation of Chinese classics 

Faculty Name: Hirsh Diamant 

Faculty Email:

Description: In this project SURFs will interpret a new translation of Chinese classical (Jing) texts in form of animation and short videos. SURFs will help with research and animation/video production.

We learn from Chinese legends that Laozi, the author of Dao De Jing, was a scholar and a keeper of archives for the royal court of Zhou. Growing weary of the moral decay of life in China at the time of the Warring States, Laozi went west to leave China for good. On his way Laozi had to pass a military outpost in the mountains. Master Guanyin, the commander of the post and the Guardian of the Pass, was himself a scholar advanced in cultivation of the Way. Master Guanyin recognized that Laozi was not an ordinary man and begged him to write down, before he left China, what he knew about cultivation of the Way. To satisfy this request Laozi wrote down 5000 words that became known as Dao De Jing. When Master Guanyin complained that the text was too long and too complicated for ordinary people to understand and practice, Laozi wrote down the couplet of 14 Words with new special words he invented. Master Guanyin became the first disciple of Laozi and later wrote his own text known as: Wenshi Zhenjing. Although both texts are revered in Chinese tradition, they have not been translated in English language.


Research in Cybersecurity Education 

Faculty Name: Richard Weiss 

Faculty Email:

Description: Hands-on cybersecurity exercises have great potential for engaging students, but they need rapid feedback to identify when they are heading in the wrong direction and to help them improve. The goal of this project is to apply reinforcement learning, which is a type of machine learning, to create, test, and deploy a semi-automated rapid feedback system (called TD-Hint). TD-Hint will help instructors give the right feedback at the right time to learners engaging with cybersecurity exercises. It is semi-automated because it uses the instructors as human-in-the-loop in the learning process. The feedback system will be integrated with the existing EDURange framework, a platform that is a joint project between Evergreen and Lewis and Clark College. EDURange includes both a collection of exercises and tools for creating new exercises, and with ACSLE (also developed at Evergreen with L&C and University of Southern California). ACSLE is a system for collecting and analyzing student interactions on the command line.

This proposed project applies the theory for modeling student knowledge and skills using reinforcement learning. It will also address an existing gap in research on the timing, types, modes, and features of feedback that contribute to positive student outcomes (retention, achievement, application of knowledge). The long-term goals are to develop a system that will provide effective feedback and hints to students based on their interactions with the exercises.


Assessing the Conservation Status of the Endangered Old Growth Specklebelly Lichen, Pseudocyphellaria rainierensis

Faculty Name: Lalita Calabria

Faculty Email:

Description: Pseudocyphellaria rainierensis, commonly known as old growth specklebelly, is a rare, epiphytic lichen found in old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. This lichen has experienced a >30% decline in the last 90 years due to timber extraction and development, declines in air quality and most recently, climate-driven fires. In order to better understand the scale and scope of changes that have occurred to P. rainierensis populations in Washington State during the last century we will revisit historic collection sites across the range to verify the status of known populations, determine their extent and abundance, and characterize ecological conditions. We will also quantify land use history and forest continuity of these sites using satellite imagery and aerial photography archives.

With this information, we will map historical and current patterns of occurrence for P. rainierensis in WA state, delimit the current threats to P. rainierensis and to the old growth forests where it occurs, and estimate changes in population size. These data can then be used to model and predict locations to search for undocumented records of P. rainierensis, and to inform forest management planning and conservation strategies that may result in protections for P. rainierensis along with other biodiversity. 


Turning Back: Poetics of the Archive 

Faculty Name: Miranda Mellis 

Faculty Email:

Description: The project entails organizing faculty member's archival materials and helping to create an organized, usable archive of materials faculty is working with for a creative project. The process of working with the archive extends beyond the merely referential in this case. Though categorization, preservation, and indexing are one important part, poetic inquiry is the other side of this work and is made possible through the process of ordering and sorting these artifacts. The concept of this project is that archival imagery serves as material for creative work. Poetic inquiry and language help to translate and animate artifacts so that they become accessible, through writing, in the present.

The student is acting as an apprentice archivist, studying and learning the discipline autonomously, as well as being an interlocutor for faculty as they develop their creative project in response to the archives. The areas of expertise associated with this project are  archiving, indexing, categorizing, conservation of historical ephemera, American Studies, Literary Arts, Poetics, Aesthetics, and History. 


New Deal Conservation Education in the Archives of the Pacific Northwest   

Faculty Name: Michael Bowman  

Faculty Email:

Description: This research project would support the development of a manuscript on the history of place-based, "conservation education" in the public schools of the Pacific Northwest during the long New Deal period (1933-1945). Tentatively titled, "That Dam Curriculum: Hydroelectric power, New Deal settlerism, and conservation education in the Pacific Northwest, 1933-1945," this in-process manuscript examines the origins and impacts of a non-profit organization that sought to 'translate' New Deal land interventions into a region-wide curriculum for teachers and students of the region.

The undergraduate researcher would visit 1-4 archives depending on transportation access and budget (Washington State Archives in Olympia; Oregon State University Special Collections in Corvallis; Seattle Public Schools Archives; National Archives, PNW branch in Seattle) and collect, organize, and annotate archival documents. The researcher would also have the opportunity (if desired) to contribute to an academic conference proposal and the manuscript-in-process. 


Field Ornithology and Bioacoustics 

Faculty Name: Alison Styring 

Faculty Email:

Description: There are three active research projects in my lab.  

1. Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS): 
In collaboration with Puget Sound Bird Observatory, the Center for Natural Lands Management, the ornithology lab has established a MAPS station at Glacial Heritage Preserve: a remnant native prairie site 23 miles south of campus.  MAPS is a network bird banding stations across North America that collect standardized data on key indicators of avian health and survival.  I am looking for students to participate in station activities and collect the fifth season of data.  Work will include conducting habitat assessments; setting mist-nets; banding birds; collecting information on body condition, sex, breeding status, molt, and age; entering data into spreadsheets/databases; running analyses; and preparing/submitting reports to the Institute for Bird Populations and state/federal wildlife agencies.   

2. Long-term monitoring of birds in the Evergreen Forest: 
The ornithology lab is working to monitor population trends and species richness of breeding birds in the campus forest. Work involves navigating to 44 long-term monitoring stations and taking acoustic recordings, observational surveys, and habitat surveys. It also involves computer lab work downloading, analyzing, and archiving recordings, entering data from surveys into spreadsheets/databases and analyzing trends and diversity using inferential statistics. 

3. Bioacoustic analysis 
In addition to the long-term monitoring work described above, we have several years of acoustic data comparing bird detections in the forest at the level of the forest floor and the canopy.  

The goal of this study is to better understand detection differences between canopy-based and ground-based surveys. Work on this project involves annotating and entering data from recordings, comparing species detections and vocalization types between forest floor and canopy and conducting inferential statistics. 


Sense of Place / Sense of Belonging 

Faculty Name: Evan Blackwell 

Faculty Email:

Description: For this SURF project, the fellow and I will be working together to create a series of ceramics and mixed media artworks exploring our relationship to place through the natural materials around us. We will observe, engage with, and develop a connection to the future site of the new South County Recycling and Transfer Station in the City of Algona, WA. Currently, the land is an undeveloped but altered area of 15 acres. Using materials from the site to create physical artworks as a form of archiving, it will be an opportunity to become immersed in observation and respond to the layers of place, function, and the natural and cultural systems on this land in Algona. By building a knowledge of the geology and ecology, my hope is to deepen my connection to the land. I will be sharing my work in various public engagements and permanent site specific artworks.  

We will identify and collect natural materials from the site, (clay, plants, rocks, etc.) and work to archive and present the collections using ceramic processes to cast, fuse, embed, fossilize and immortalize these materials. The creation of the artwork will take place primarily in the Evergreen Ceramics Studio. Field research and collecting of materials will occur at least every two - three weeks at the site in Algona. Academic expertise in Visual Arts, Socially Engaged Art, and Sustainability Studies will be developed as well as some Public Administration, Geology, and Botany work.


Setting the seeds: oysters at the Evergreen Shellfish Garden to support curriculum and community 

Faculty Name: Pauline Yu 

Faculty Email:

Description:  In this project, the fellow will work to steward the Evergreen Shellfish Garden on the Evergreen Beach, which will be open for reseeding with Pacific oysters, and being prepared for Olympia Oyster seeding. The project will take place primarily at the Evergreen Beach on campus, but there will also be a research and writing component, and the potential for some off-campus meetings with local stakeholders. The primary aim of the project will be the field work, to seed shellfish, to tend the shellfish bed, to assist with public communications and marketing regarding public education at the Shellfish Garden and to assist with developing pedagogical modules for upcoming 2022-2023 curricular offerings (including Tribal Marine Policy and Resources, Marine Biodiversity and Forest, Farm, Shellfish Garden: Experiential Learning) and beyond (proposed SPS certificate in Marine Bioresources included). Continued maintenance and support for the Shellfish Garden, both through curricular connections and through Student Activities (The Evergreen Shellfish and Appreciation Club) are a key to strengthening Evergreen's position in contributing to sustainability and ecological restoration activities on campus. Evergreen has a long history of placing students into industry, governmental and non-governmental shellfish fishery and aquaculture related employment. The Evergreen Shellfish Garden can continue as a curricular tool for developing and recruiting the future workforce in that sector. 

The fellow will finish the summer with a strong understanding of shellfish husbandry, specialized knowledge about bivalve mollusc biology and have professional networking connections to local shellfish interests. 


Comparison of Salicaceae Photosynthesis in Common Gardens and Following Volcanic Disturbance 

Faculty Name: Dylan Fischer 

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Description: How does genetic variation and dioecy in plants affect growth and ecological interactions? In this project, selected fellows will monitor leaf-level photosynthesis, water stress, and transpiration in genotypes planted in a common garden, and across a dynamic landscape at Mount St. Helens National Monument. Measurements will occur throughout the summer in coordination with NSF-sponsored research in tree adaptation to climate change and succession research at Mount St. Helens. The focal species in this study include distinct willows and cottonwood genotypes. The student fellow will be responsible for learning to use and operate leaf gas exchange instrumentation in the field (measuring CO2 and H2O). They will work up results from this mentored research experience at the end of the quarter for public presentation and potential scientific publication.

Applicants should be independent, have a strong work ethic, be comfortable traveling and working in remote outdoor locations, and capable of extended independent work or small group work. Applicants will have daily and weekly duties in Olympia, and weekly-monthly obligations at Mount St. Helens research sites, including several multi-day trips.


Race, Class, Gender and Housing Policy 

Faculty Name: Savvina Azim Chowdhury, Ph.D. 

Faculty Email:

Description:  ​​​​​​The overall objective of this research project is to develop a set of principles to guide our thinking about housing policy in line with the ethos of a solidarity economy. We will draw on insights from feminist social reproduction theory and read authors such as Dolores Hayden, Jane Jacobs, Silvia Federici and Nancy Fraser. 

Feminist critiques of suburbia point out that the spatially dispersed, single-family suburban housing developments in the US relied on the institutionalization of the heteronormative nuclear family to reinforce the gender binary and hetero-patriarchy. Housing policies in the US promoted a lifestyle that endorsed consumerism as an ideology, drawing on gendered constructions of the feminized housewife and the male breadwinner. They also promoting a type of individualism that led to social isolation, atomism and alienation promoted by spatially dispersed lifestyles that also served the growth imperative of key sectors of the US economy (automobiles, real estate and finance) at the expense of meeting social needs and racial diversity. Federal housing polices relied on institutional racism on the part of Federal housing agencies to create artificially white communities.  

Feminists thinking about housing as part of social reproduction call for re-organizing our work-life patterns, re-designing our built environments and re-think how we organize work. Redesigned urban spaces and work places, as well as re-arranged workdays using balanced-job complexes offer ways to re-envision our homes and workplaces. Feminists highlight the androcentric ways we currently think about the economy, and call for de-gendering social reproduction and restructuring hierarchal gender relations through innovative ways of thinking about housing. 


The Prevalence of State Boredom in Dogs and Cats 

Faculty Name: Mike Paros 

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Description: The study of animal welfare increasingly focuses on the mental states of animals. Most animal welfare research has focused on negatively-valenced emotions like pain, fear and stress. Recently, the topic of animal boredom has begun to receive more attention (Meagher and Robbins 2021). What little boredom research that has been done, has focused on boredom in a few animal species used for biomedical research and food production. There is however good reason to suspect boredom is a common welfare issue for companion animals (ie dogs and cats) as well. This project seeks to begin to address this gap in the literature using an online survey to assess pet owner's perceptions of boredom in dogs and cats. Dog and cat owners will be asked a series of questions about their pet's environment, activity levels, access to outdoors, social environment, enrichment opportunities, as well as, perception about the psychological experiences their pet experiences. The fellow selected for this project will work in the Paros lab at Evergreen and remotely. This project will build upon Dr. Paros' popular anthrozoology certificate program which integrates biology and psychology to enhance our understanding of human-animal relations. 

Meagher, R. K., & Robbins, J. (2021). Parallels to Boredom in Nonhuman Animals. The Moral Psychology of Boredom, 267. 


Pedagogical Implementation of the BB84 Quantum Key Distribution Protocol

Faculty Name: John Caraher

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Description: The BB84 protocol is the original scheme to apply quantum mechanics to safeguard, against any potential eavesdropping attack, the generation and sharing of an encryption key between two parties. It has been implemented in high-security commercial devices and has been subject to extensive theoretical and experimental study. Many colleges and universities, including Evergreen, have labs designed to teach quantum mechanics and the emerging technologies built on quantum optics. The goal of this project is to extend the capabilities of such labs, both at Evergreen and elsewhere, to permit the demonstration of a version of the BB84 protocol (and potentially others) in the teaching laboratory. This work engages with the fields of physics, electronics, and computer science. The work will be done on-campus in Olympia in a lab setting. Ultimately, most of the work needs to occur in the current quantum optics lab in the basement of Lab 2.