The 2020 session will run from May 26 to July 31.


**Application portal is now closed**

 Application deadline was

Friday, February 14 at 5pm


Program Overview

The primary purpose of our program, established in 1996, is to provide 12 students with a closely-mentored, hands-on graduate level basic research experience in an active neuroscience laboratory on the Piscatway or New Brunswick campus of Rutgers University.

A second important goal, and one that distinguishes us from most other SURPs, is to provide students with career development and educational activities. These occur throughout the program, and are intended to increase knowledge and interest in pursuing careers in research.

Our program is primarily funded by an R25 Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/NIMH.  We will be proudly entering our 8th year of support from the NIH in 2020.

Admission Information

Applicants from all accredited schools are encouraged to apply.  Prior research experience is not required.

Special consideration will be given to minority groups that are underrepresented in the sciences, first-generation college students, or students who attend schools with limited research opportunities.


  • Must be United States citizens or permanent residents.

  • Must have completed at least one year of college prior to the start of the program. Applicants who will have received their undergraduate degree prior to the start of the program are NOT eligible.

  • Should be in good academic standing and have had some coursework in biology.

  • Should clearly articulate an interest in neuroscience and in pursuing a career in neuroscience related research.

  • Will NOT be considered if they are already admitted to graduate or professional programs (e.g., BA/MD).

  • Must be prepared to start the program on May 26, 2020 (limited accommodations can be made if this is not possible).

Research Component

Students in our program spend the majority of their time carrying out a research project under the supervision of program faculty mentors, similar to a research rotation for first-year PhD graduate students. This process involves formulating and articulating a hypothesis, learning laboratory skills, solving problems, collecting and documenting data, attending lab meetings and journal clubs, and presenting their work at the end of the summer.

LAB MATCHING: Admitted students will receive a description of the research projects available in each mentors laboratory prior to the start of the program, and will rank their preferences accordingly.  These descriptions will include all the information necessary to make an informed choice, including details of the experiments to be performed, the model system/s used, the laboratory personnel who will directly supervise the students, and other information about the research focus in each lab.

As an example of the scope of research performed, the following faculty mentors participated in the 2019 session (please note that the list of mentor labs changes somewhat from year to year): Victoria Abraira, PhD; Janet Alder, PhD & Smita Thakker Varia, PhDGary Aston-Jones, PhD; Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom, MD; Peng Jiang, PhD; Ron Hart, PhD; Kelvin Kwan, PhD; Michael Matise, PhD; Pingyue Pan, PhD; Mladen Roko Rasin, MD/PhD; Ben Samuels, PhD; Huaye Zhang, PhD.

Career Development/Educational Component

During the course of the program, students will have many opportunities to learn about the multitude of career paths available to individuals with an advanced degree in science (i.e., PhD, MD/PhD).

Career development activities primarily take place during weekly group lunch meetings attended by SURP students and the program Co-PIs. During these meetings, students will have an opportunity to meet and interact with invited guest speakers, including representatives of Rutgers graduate and medical schools who discuss the admission process, students, post-docs, early and established career research scientists in academia, as well as select representatives from diverse carreer paths including the biopharmaceutical industry.

Click here to see the 2019 program schedule including lunch meeting topics.

In addition, SURP students will have:

  • Three ~1 hour lectures focusing on Disorders of the Nervous System, covering the topics of Neural Development, Synaptic Transmission, Sensory and Motor Systems, and Brain and Behavior.

  • Training in lab safety and the responsible conduct of research.

  • Guidance on reading and understanding primary scientific literature.

  • The option of enrolling in a GRE preparatory classes that will take place once a week in the evening. Cost will be borne by the SURP program.

  • The option of enrolling in a supplemental MD/PhD component, which will be available to students in the program who express an interest in pursing an MD/PhD on their applications. This will include shadowing and interactions with MD/PhD students, faculty and program directors.

  • Extensive guidance in public speaking.  Our program culminates in a public research symposium where students will present their findings in a 15 minute talk attended by members of the research community, sponsors of the program, and other guests. 

  • Guidance in writing up their research report that will be submitted at the end of the program.

  • The opportunity to design a class-specific T-shirt to commemorate your time in the program.

Stipend, Housing, and Transportation

All students in the program receive a $4000 stipend and free housing in a secure building on the College Avenue Campus of Rutgers University.

Campus wide shuttle bus access is available throughout the summer for transport between student housing and research labs.

Students housing is located in a lively area of New Brunswick within walking distance to numerous restaurants, shops, and public transportation (NJ Transit) to New York City (~40 minutes) and Philadelphia (~1 hour).

All students are strongly encouraged to live in the dorm with their SURP peers during the program.  The personal bonds that form under these conditions will last a lifetime.

The program will cover travel expenses related to transportation to and from the students' permanent residence at the beginning and end of the program.

Admitted applicants will receive detailed information on these and other important program related topics in late April and May prior to the start of the program.


We gratefully acknowledge ongoing program support from the following sources:

  • NIH/NIMH "Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Molecular and Developmental Neurobiology" (Award #R25MN09572).

  • The Department of Neuroscience & Cell Biology at Rutgers-RWJMS.

  • Rutgers School of Graduate Studies.

Application Instructions

Application portal has closed.

The following items are required:

1) Curriculum Vitae/Resume.
2) Personal statement addressing the specific questions on the application.
2) Unofficial electronic copy of college transcript (note that official copy will be required if you are accepted to the program).
3) Two letters of recommendation submitted via the online application system (letters can be requested anytime from within the online appication system before submitting your final application).

All components of the application must be recevied prior to the deadline in order to be considered.

There is no interview process.

Applicants will be notified of their status no later than April 15, 2020.

How to Contact Us

Please direct inquiries about the program to Ms. Joan Mordes or to the Co-directors: Dr. Janet Alder, Dr. Michael Matise, or Dr. Roko Rasin.

Program Administrator full contact information:

Ms. Joan Mordes
SURP Program Administrative Coordinator
Dept. of Neuroscience & Cell Biology
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
683 Hoes Lane West, Research Building 363
Piscataway, NJ 08854