Summer is here, which means hordes of overachieving Northwestern students have been released to the internships, jobs and other opportunities that were waiting for them as soon as finals ended. But for those students who wanted a different summer experience – think less 9-to-5 in business casual and more choose-your-own-adventure – the Summer Undergraduate Research Grant (SURG) might have been an appealing option. From special effects makeup to helping progress Alzheimer’s research and everything in between, SURG recipients are doing it all this summer.

SURG is a program that provides undergraduate students with a stipend of $4,000 for an independent research project. Projects can be in any field, and students receive many resources through the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) and the University, including grant-writing assistance and a faculty mentor during the summer. This year, nearly 300 students received a SURG. They will spend eight weeks this summer researching their topic. Read more for a look into what it takes to do a SURG project, the topics this year’s recipients are covering and more.

*Names marked with an asterisk (*) indicate recipients of an Advanced SURG. This recently developed program is only available to students who have already completed a SURG. It allows them to continue their initial SURG research or begin a new project.

*Editor’s note: These interviews have been edited and condensed for length and clarity.