The Sustainability Undergraduate Research Experience Program at Arizona State University
ASU’s Sustainability Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program provides students with research opportunities to help build career skills and enhance competitiveness for jobs and graduate school. Through the program, students will enhance their knowledge, skills, and experiences in exploration and discovery to generate knowledge and develop evidence-based solutions for sustainability.
The research positions in the SURE program cover a wide variety of sustainability challenges, such as:
• sustainable governance and collective action
• urban and environmental planning
• food, water, and energy systems management
• human health and wellbeing
• environmental justice and just transitions
• ecosystem dynamics and management
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.
Preparation and instruction
SOS 246: Exploring Sustainability Research is an A Session course in the fall term. The one-credit course is primarily composed of faculty guest presentations, and the assignments are designed to support your application to projects.
Once committed to a project with a sustainability scientist or scholar in the spring, you can enroll in SOS 346: Developing Research Skills. 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.
Research-based course credits may apply to a student’s upper-division electives or electives in your chosen track or related discipline. Your academic advisors can help you decide which coursework is best suited to your studies. The academic department of your faculty supervisor is where you should find and submit any independent research forms.
ASU faculty and Ph.D. students interested in supervising SURE students can email program director, Kelli Larson, at [email protected].
July – early August: A call for projects is sent to faculty and Ph.D. students to gather SURE opportunities for the academic year.
August – September: Students learn about project opportunities for spring term; students in SOS 246 view videos and descriptions for SURE projects offered by participating faculty and their research teams. View Projects for Spring 2024.
Late September – early October: The application form opens to students who wish to apply for projects. The form asks for student resumes and other information to help with placement in SURE projects.
You need to sign into Google with your ASURITE login to view the projects and submit the application.
Note: We have created a guide to submitting a strong application that you can view and download. While only a resume is required to apply for projects, we have seen more success for students who submit cover letters too.
November: Project supervisors review application materials. Some supervisors will interview students and will contact students directly to schedule them. Once supervisors select students, both the student and faculty should confirm their selections with each other and the SURE coordinator.
Note: Students who applied to multiple projects may hear back from multiple supervisors. These students need to clearly communicate to all who reached out and the SURE coordinator which project(s) they will join in the spring.
November – December: The scholarship application opens to students continuing with SURE in the spring. Be sure to enroll in course credit with your faculty supervisor, as appropriate.
Highlights from past years
Here’s what past SURE participants had to say about the program and Exploring Sustainability Research course:
Student of the Year Awards
Sydney Lewis & Emmalyn Meyer, “Uranium Mining in the Grand Canyon Region: Ineffective Governance of Mining Trade-Offs“ (supervised by Dr. Elke Kellner)
Kim Nguyen, “FEWS for Change: A Resource Conservation Role-Playing Game for Youth” (supervised by Dr. Datu Buyung Agusdinata)
Best Research Poster Award
Karli Barrett, Michelle Refuerzo, Daanish Tung, & Kyleigh Brown, “Don’t Mess with Sedona. Measuring Human Behavior Change Towards the Environment: A Study of Oak Creek Canyon“ (supervised by Dr. Marco Janssen)