SURE Program

The Sustainability Undergraduate Research Experience Program at Arizona State University

ASU’s Sustainability Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE) program provides students with research opportunities to help build their career skills and enhance their competitiveness for jobs and graduate school. Through the program, students will enhance their knowledge, skills and experiences in exploration and discovery, lifelong learning, knowledge generation and evidence building.

The research positions in the SURE program cover a wide variety of sustainability challenges, such as:

• ecosystem dynamics and land/resource management

• collective action and sustainable governance

• food-water-energy systems dynamics

• human health and wellbeing

• environmental justice and just transitions

Projects address societal and biological dynamics, as well as the innovations and solutions that address complex sustainability problems. Diverse faculty will be involved as supervisors, including natural scientists, engineers, social scientists and scholars in the humanities.

How to get involved

If you are interested in exploring opportunities and developing a fundamental understanding of sustainability-focused research, register for SOS 246 Exploring Sustainability Research in a fall term.

To continue participating in the program, apply to work on an approved project (see 2023 projects) with a sustainability scientist or scholar and take SOS 346 Sustainability Research Design and Practice (check with your academic advisor to determine if credit is appropriate).

The application will be due on Sunday, October 16 for SURE 2022-2023 Projects. Students must be logged into their ASU account to access the project list and application form. We have created a guide to submitting a strong application that you can view and download.

For students who demonstrate financial need, we are pleased to offer a range of Scholarships to help support your enrollment in research hours in Spring 2023. The Scholarship Application will be available in October.

If you have questions about the program, contact your CGF Advisor by emailing [email protected]

Levels of involvement

The SURE program provides flexible options to learn about and engage in research depending on students’ level of interest and availability. Below are the three tiers of involvement.

Research Apprentice – Discover current research opportunities and careers while also learning about graduate school through the 1-credit course SOS 246 Exploring Sustainability Research. Students will explore research opportunities in which they can become involved (though no commitment is required). The course will host several guest speakers, including ASU faculty as well as graduate and undergraduate researchers. The class involves a “Y = Satisfactory” grading system, and the main requirements are attendance and in-class participation. Visit the full course description in the ASU Class Search.

Research Assistant – Gain substantive research experience by participating in an approved, faculty-supervised project for at least one full semester. Research assistants chosen for a SURE project will enroll for three credits of individualized instruction with their faculty supervisor. This amounts to 6-8 hours per week of work on the project. Depending on the level of the student (e.g., first-year to senior), the course numbers are SOS 194, 294, 394, or 499. Juniors and seniors interested in earning capstone internship credit should review the information on this page and email [email protected] to determine eligibility and register for SOS 484.

Research Fellow – Advance beyond the assistant level by taking SOS 346 Sustainability Research Design and Practice. In this course, students will develop practical research questions, receive training in graphic and visual communication, and create poster presentations in collaboration with their research supervisor and the class. View the full course description in the ASU Class Search. To be eligible, students must simultaneously enroll in at least two credit hours of individualized instruction. Barrett students may use their research/thesis hours (e.g., HON 492 or 493) in lieu of registering for SOS individualized instruction.

Research-based course credits may apply to a student’s upper-division electives or electives in your chosen track or related discipline. The College of Global Futures advisors can help students decide which coursework is best suited to their studies. Sustainability students can also gain research experience through relevant workshop (SOS 498) courses, internship (SOS 484) hours, or other research-based credits. Ask your CGF advisor how to get involved.

Highlights from past years

Here’s what past SURE participants had to say about the program and Exploring Sustainability Research course:

The class taught me a lot more about grad school and applications [for varied] purposes. All of my immediate family members dropped out of college besides my grandparents, so I don’t really have anyone to help answer these questions or help me through it.

The most surprising thing I learned was how approachable and flexible most of the researchers are which turned the thought of research from one of stress to one of excitement. At the beginning of the semester, I was worried that the research faculty would be very intimidating but I found instead a very welcoming community.

Something I learned about sustainability research is that it’s accessible to undergraduate students. I’m not sure why, but even before I started pursuing higher education at community college, I assumed research was something only graduate students, or students who were well-connected, could participate in.

SURE Student of the Year Award

Dayanara Avilez, Best Practices for Conservation Outreach through State Wildlife Agencies(supervised by Kelli Larson)

Best Research Poster Award

Avery Sanowski, “Indigenous Food System Initiatives in Arizona(supervised by Rimjhim Aggarwal)