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The PURA application portal is now open through September 1.


PURA is the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Award. Provost Joseph Cooper (1991-1995) established the PURA program in 1993 with a generous endowment by the Hodson Trust. The program was created to support and encourage Hopkins undergraduate students to engage in independent research, scholarly and creative projects.

Take a look at past cohorts HERE

Program Details:

Award type: individual award
Award amount: $3000 per recipient
Opens for applications: June 1      Apply here
Deadline to apply: September 1 (11:59 pm) (this includes all sections: the application, resume upload, proposal upload, and mentor letter)
Award announced: on or about October 15
Length of award: 1 year from award date


Questions? Please review the FAQs below and contact [email protected] with other questions.

Who is eligible to apply?

All registered Hopkins undergraduates in the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, the Peabody Institute, and the Whiting School of Engineering (freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors that are NOT graduating prior to May of the academic year of the award) in good academic standing (i.e. not on academic probation, suspension, or leave for any reason) are eligible.

HOUR especially encourages applications from students from underserved backgrounds (e.g. first-generation students, low-income backgrounds), students who are underrepresented in their field of study, and/or those who may not have previously had an opportunity for a research experience.

What kind of projects are accepted?

Research, scholarly, creative, and artistic activities that lead to:

  • The creation of new knowledge;
  • Increased problem-solving capabilities, including design and analysis;
  • Original, critical, or historical theory and interpretation; or
  • The production of new art or artistic performance.

What is an ‘independent” research, scholarly, or creative project?

  • Independent projects (in any field) can be a unique project conceived of by the student with a university mentor providing guidance and support. HOUR is happy to help students connect with a mentor if they have been unable to identify one.
  • Independent projects can also take place in a larger group or lab, where the undergraduate is assigned an identified portion of the project. The undergraduate is given ‘ownership’ of that portion as it contributes to the larger project.

Does my project have to be related to my major or minor?

Your undergraduate years are the time to explore your interests. We are happy to consider projects directly related to your major/ minor or passion projects based on your other interests.

What is required to apply?

  • Basic information for the online application (name, JHU email, cell number, anticipated year of graduation, mailing address, major/s)
  • Your one-page resume  (see HOUR Tips: Resume Best Practices)
  • Your project proposal – must not to exceed 4 pages total including figures and bibliography (see PROPOSAL REQUIREMENTS AND GUIDELINES)
  • Mentor name and Hopkins email address (up to 2 mentors allowed). Affiliates of Hopkins (Lieber Institute, Kennedy Krieger, Carnegie Institute, and some NIH) can also serve as mentor, but you must get approval of the HOUR office in advance if they do not have a Hopkins email address.

Can I apply to and or receive HOUR opportunities more than once?

Yes, you are encouraged to continue to apply to our programs throughout your undergraduate career at Hopkins. Projects evolve, interests change and HOUR wants to encourage your exploration. In the case of “tied” review scores in an individual program cycle, preference will be given to students that have not previously received funding through HOUR programs.

Is there a formal presentation due at the end of the project?

Yes, all HOUR program recipients are expected to present their project at DREAMS (occurring in the Fall and Spring semesters) or another HOUR approved presentation event. Projects can be in many formats. See the DREAMS page for examples. This presentation should occur within one academic year after the award period is complete. Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis after the recipient contacts the HOUR office about a conflict.

Would you like HOUR staff to review your application documents and provide feedback prior to submitting? Interested students may schedule 1 (and ONLY ONE) document review session per individual award program (per year) with HOUR staff. You may meet with either Tracy or Deborah; you may not meet with both for review of the same documents.

You MUST follow these steps before you schedule a meeting for document draft review:

  1. Clearly name your document using your name or jhed and the type of document (example: john_lee_resume or jlee987_pura). Do not label as “resume” or “pura_proposal”
  2. Review our PROPOSAL REQUIREMENTS AND  GUIDELINES and be sure you follow the requirements (only 4!)
  3. Run your document through spell check and grammar check, making corrections as recommended.
  4. BEFORE scheduling a meeting with HOUR – have your mentor, the Writing Center, and/ or someone else you respect review your document and offer feedback.
  5. Once above steps are complete and you have a FINAL DRAFT:
    1. Email a copy of your document to [email protected] identifying who you plan to meet with (Tracy or Deborah). Your document MUST BE sent to us a minimum of 1 full business day (weekends do not count!) prior to your appointment time!!
    2. Schedule your 1:1 appointment for feedback:

30-minute meeting with Tracy

30-minute meeting with Deborah

  1. The LAST appointment for a document review for any HOUR program submission is 5 business days PRIOR to the program deadline (example: Summer PURA closes on 2/1 so the LAST appointment for review is approximately 1/26 or the last weekday before that).
  2. If you have ever had an in person or virtual meeting to receive draft feedback in the past (for a different application), you may request your feedback in the form of a marked-up file emailed back to you, instead of scheduling a meeting.

If I choose a different program I applied to (whether internal or external to JHU) taking place during the same time frame as this program, can I defer this award to a future period (academic year or summer as appropriate)?

No, we are not able to allow anyone selected for a specific cohort to defer to a future time. With the limited funding available, this would not be fair to the applicants in those future cycles. All students are encouraged to apply to a future cycle of PURA or Summer PURA should you choose to not accept the award for any reason. Your new application would then go through the review cycle with all other applicants as a new submission with no preference given. You are welcome to resubmit your awarded proposal with any updates related to progress or timeline made.

How is funding distributed?

There are three ways to receive funding:

  1. The entire award can be transferred to the awarded student as a fellowship payment for discretionary use.
  2. The entire award can be transferred to the department of the mentor for use on the project.
  3. The award can be split between the student and the mentor’s department for the uses explained below.

NoteAny transfer of funding to a department should be 100% the decision of the recipient, but with the mentor’s agreement. A mentor CANNOT force a recipient to transfer or “share” the funding.

What can the funding be used for?

The PURA Award is a discretionary fellowship award. Recipients may use the funding in any manner they like with no required reporting of use back to HOUR.

  • Funding transferred directly to the recipient can be used for anything – some examples include living expenses, travel, food, clothing, anything!!
  • Funding transferred to the mentor’s department allows the recipient to capitalize on university purchasing power and access as well as not incurring sales tax.
  • Note, this award is NOT to be transferred to a faculty discretionary account and CANNOT used as compensation to a mentor for time/ standard supply usage.
  • Any funding transferred to a department but left unused at the end of the year should be transferred to the student for their personal use or returned to the HOUR office for reinvestment in the program.

What are the tax implications of this award?

Fellowship payments are subject to all applicable payroll taxes. Questions and concerns should be directed to the University Tax Office at [email protected]

Who can be a mentor?

  • A PURA mentor can be a faculty member, research associate, staff member, postdoc, or graduate student from any division of the university as well as the Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI), the Lieber Institute, and the Carnegie Institute. We acknowledge that in many cases the grad student or postdoc serves as the primary mentor for the undergraduate researchers. We respect this relationship and your support and guidance.
  • If a graduate student or postdoc is serving as primary mentor, we encourage the undergraduate to also identify and request the professor/ PI for the research group provide a letter of recommendation acknowledging that they are aware of the project and support it.

What should be included in my letter of support?

The letter should address:

  • The strengths and skills the undergraduate has that will enable them to successfully complete the proposed project.
  • The amount of independence the student will have (a unique project conceived of by the student or a part of a larger project that they will be responsible for).
  • Address your intent as a mentor including what support you will be providing (regular meetings, resources, other).

What are my responsibilities as a mentor?

We expect our program mentors to:

  • Provide a support system for the undergraduate researcher to help them complete their project as proposed (whether successful or not).
  • Meet with them regularly (on a schedule that works for both of you) to discuss problems and successes, each of which can be difficult to navigate in the research environment.
  • In lab-based projects, provide access to equipment and supplies not otherwise available to undergraduates.

If my mentee is awarded a PURA or Summer PURA, how do they receive their funding?

PURA and Summer PURA undergraduate recipients can choose between three options for receipt of their award. We expect them to discuss the options with you, their mentor to help them select the distribution that makes the most sense for them and the project. No portion of the award is intended as compensation for the mentor’s time or general resource contribution to the project or the mentee. The award is a discretionary fellowship for the student.

  1. 100% of the award funding can be paid to the student for discretionary use. The award can be used for living expenses, computers or software, travel, project expenses, conference expenses, or anything they may need.
  2. 100% of the award funding can be transferred to an internal account (cost center) in the mentor’s department to be utilized for project related expenses, capitalizing in university purchasing power and access. Note, unspent funds must be transferred to the student for discretionary use or returned to HOUR for reinvestment in the program.
  3. The award funding may be split between the above options at an amount agreed upon by the student and mentor.

How do we select reviewers?

HOUR staff reviews each submission looking at: the proposal title, the proposal summary (requested in the application), as well as the mentor/s primary appointments and affilations to gain basic understanding of the project. We then research university faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and staff to identify field specific or subject matter experts to serve as reviewers.

This is a very time-consuming process but allows us to make strong reviewer/ submission matches. These matches assure that each submission is evaluated by someone who can review in its area of study and provide constructive feedback.

Some examples:

  • A student who is a dual degree candidate from WSE and Peabody with a creative project proposal for a computer music-based project and mentored by a Peabody faculty might have 2 Peabody faculty identified as mentors or 1 Peabody and 1 Computer Science faculty identified.
  • A student majoring in English, but on a premed track, working on a gastrointestinal cancer project at the med campus might have reviewers from Oncology and/ or Gastroenterology.
  • A physics student writing a science fiction novel that references science fact might be reviewed by English or Writing Seminars faculty as well as a faculty in the related science area.

What is required of reviewers?

HOUR staff works diligently to not overtax our reviewers, limiting the number of submissions assigned to each reviewer. Reviewers utilize the same platform (SMApply) that applicants use. We do require constructive feedback from our reviewers so we can help develop stronger researchers and proposal writers. Reviewers are asked to provide comments on:

  1. How well the proposal is written.
  2. How viable the project is in general and for the undergraduate applicant.
  3. Were the proposal requirements met and guidelines generally followed. HOUR PROPOSAL REQUIREMENTS AND GUIDELINES

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