Deans' Undergraduate Research Fund

Deans' Undergraduate Research Fund (DURF)

The Deans' Undergraduate Research Fund (DURF) awards funding to undergraduates at NYU Shanghai for summer research in any field of study. The DURF broadly defines research as scholarly or artistic activities that lead to the production of new knowledge; to increased problem solving capabilities, including design and analysis; to original, critical or historical theory and interpretation; or to the production of art or artistic performance. Students interested in any form of research may apply. You can work alone or in a group, in a traditional or interdisciplinary field, in a professor’s lab or in a studio – it’s up to you. However, you will need a well thought-out, feasible plan and a Faculty Mentor willing to commit to supervising your project.

It is permissible for your research to be conducted outside of Shanghai. However, the proposal should include an explanation for why the work can be done in the proposed location and how you and your Faculty Mentor will work together if you are not in the same location. The limits on participation and mentorship are not meant to be constraints on research, but only reflect limitations on DURF funding. Students are encouraged to do research which falls outside of the DURF program, in addition, students may participate in a DURF project even if they are not one of the DURF-funded team members of that project.  

For a convenient document with all the instructions, please click here.

Eligibility

You are eligible to apply if you satisfy all of the below requirements:

  • You are enrolled at NYU Shanghai in Spring 2019 (even if you are studying away from Shanghai);
  • You will also be an enrolled NYU Shanghai student for Fall 2019 (even if you are studying away from Shanghai);
  • You are in good academic standing (not on academic probation) with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.50. If you have a lower GPA but wish to apply, you may submit a supplementary statement to further illustrate your research abilities and why you think you should be considered for the program despite not meeting the GPA requirement. 
  • You are able to secure a Faculty Mentor in the NYU Global Network to supervise your project. The Faculty Mentor should mentor no more than two projects, and no more than four students during the summer. Please note that Teaching Assistants, Resident Research Fellows and Post-Doctoral Fellows may not serve as DURF Faculty Mentors. 

You may apply to do a project on your own or work with other students on a group project. There can be no more than four members per group. If you are receiving any other funding for the research project, you are not eligible to also receive DURF funding. If you accept other funding after you receive DURF funding, you will need to return your DURF funding.

Dates and Deadlines

Deadline: March 22, 2019 11:59 PM Shanghai time
Notification of Admission Status: Within a month of the DURF proposal deadline of March 22, 2019.

 

 

Application Process

The online application is due by 11:59pm Shanghai time, March 22, 2019. Your application is your chance to tell us about your proposed research, its significance, and how well you are prepared to undertake such a project. If you are working in a group, each group member must submit an individual application. If you are working in a group, there should be no more than four group members. 

Application Components:

  • Proposal: 3 pages maximum.

Please follow the guidelines for Type I and Type II proposals listed below. You may submit either type, but you must follow the given structure.

  • Biography: 1 page maximum.

Tell us about yourself and your story: where you come from, what you have done at NYU Shanghai, what interests you, and why this project is important to you. The purpose is to help the Committee to get to know you better.

  •  University Transcript

Provide an up-to-date official or unofficial transcript. Your cumulative GPA (minimum 3.5) is one of the factors that the committee will consider but it is not the only factor. We will also look at overall trends in your academic performance to date.  If you had a difficult semester or two, we will focus on the trajectory over time. If your GPA is below 3.5, you can also submit a supplementary statement together with the application to further illustrate your research abilities and why you think you should be considered for the program despite not meeting the GPA requirement. 

  • Resume: 1 page maximum

You may wish to consult the Career Development Center for advice on resume writing.

  • Endorsement Letter from Faculty Mentor  (to be emailed directly from the Faculty Mentor to Shanghai.durf@nyu.edu)

Each student who applies to the DURF must have a Faculty Mentor to oversee his or her project. Please note that Teaching Assistants, Resident Research Fellows and Post-Doctoral fellows may not serve as DURF Faculty Mentors. The Faculty Mentor should oversee no more than two DURF projects, and no more than four students total. We expect that the Faculty Mentor will have substantial contact with the student(s) during the course of the project(s). The commitments of a Faculty Mentor are to:

  • Give feedback to the student(s) during the process of drafting the DURF application;
  • Send a Letter of Endorsement in support of the student's application to shanghai.durf@nyu.edu by 11:59pm Shanghai time on March 22, 2019. The letter should comment on the project's feasibility and value as well as the student(s)' ability to carry out the project. It should explain how the Faculty member will supervise and mentor the student, especially if they are in two different locations. If more than one student is applying for the same project, the Faculty Mentor should comment specifically on each individual student's capabilities. 
  • Fill out an evaluation form at the end of the Project evaluating the quality of the student's project execution and project outcome. 
     

The student and faculty member should discuss the following questions:

  1. Over the summer, how often will the Faculty Mentor and student meet and/or communicate? 
  2. What is the student expected to show the faculty member at different stages of the project?
  3. If there are other advisors involved (e.g. graduate students), what will be their role and responsibilities? 

If more than one student is applying for the same project, the Faculty Mentor should comment specifically on each individual student's capabilities in the letter. 

  • Past Projects (if applicable)

Please let us know if you participated in past NYU-funded projects, including any funding received from other NYU sites besides Shanghai. Provide the names of the projects, the dates of the projects, and the sources of funding.

  • Group Partnership Plan (if applicable)

If you are applying with other students (each group can have a maximum of 4 students), describe in detail the role and responsibilities of each student and your plan for communicating and working together successfully to carry out the project.

 

Requirements

If you are selected and accepted the DURF funding, you are agreeing to:

  • Carry out the project laid out in your proposal.
  • Follow institutional guidelines on human subjects research, if applicable to your project (see guidelines below).
  • Meet the expectations set with your Faculty Mentor throughout the duration of the Project.
  • Complete a Final Report Form (sent to you by the DURF program) that summarizes your results and lessons learned. The deadline to submit the Final Report Form is August 23, 2019. 
  • Complete any other assessments connected to your project that DURF requires.

 

Failure to satisfy the above requirements will result in your not receiving the full DURF funding amount and ineligibility for future awards.

Funding Amount

Each selected student (regardless of whether they are working on their own or in a group) will individually receive a 6,520 RMB (US$1,000) stipend, disbursed in two allotments. 3,260 RMB (US$500) will be provided at the beginning of the approved project period and the remaining 3,260 RMB (US$500)will be provided after successful submission and evaluation of the finished project. The funding is subject to all applicable taxes and does not affect financial aid.

There is an additional opportunity to apply for funding of a Project Budget to cover specific materials, supplies, and travel related to the project. Individual projects can apply for Project Budget funding of up to 3,260 RMB (US$500). Group projects can apply for Project Budget funding of up to 6,520 RMB (US$1,000). To be eligible for Project Budget funding, you must submit a detailed Project Budget as part of your proposal. If you are approved for the funding, you must submit original receipts/official fapiao for the approved budget expenses at the end of the project period.

Note: Expenses related to travel to one’s hometown or home country from another country may not be included in the Project Budget.

Proposal Guidelines

Writing a research proposal will help you clarify your project and will give you valuable experience for any proposal writing you may do beyond NYU Shanghai. All proposals submitted are read and evaluated by a selection committee made up of faculty from each of the disciplinary groups on campus. Your proposal will be read by someone in the discipline of your project and read by faculty members who are not necessarily familiar with that discipline. For this reason, a successful proposal will be written in such a way that an intelligent reader who is not familiar with your field can still understand the research question you are proposing and the significance of this research in a larger context. The committee should be able to understand easily what you are studying and why it is important.

 

The effectiveness of your proposal will depend on your ability to explain the nature, context and scope of the project. The selection committee will also be looking for an indication that your project will be more than just a learning experience. What does it contribute to your field that we do not already know? Please make sure to put the key question or theme of your project at the very start of the proposal. Readers should not have to search through the proposal for the answer to "What are you studying and why is it important?" Make certain that the proposal is in your words – not your professor’s words!

 

You are welcome to make an appointment to discuss your proposal before submission with the Dean who oversees your major or your project discipline, but the appointment should be made no later than March 5, 2019. The Deans are as follows:

 

A Note on Human Subjects Research

At NYU Shanghai, undergraduate research projects involving human subjects must be independently submitted for NYU Shanghai  Institutional Review Board (IRB) review prior to being conducted. If you will be working with Human Subjects at any point during your research, you must review and follow the NYU Shanghai guidelines here (Section 12.4.2). If you are considering recruiting NYU Shanghai students in the research, please review and follow the guidelines here. You should work with your Faculty Mentor and make sure that they are aware of their roles and responsibility, including that for projects involving IRB approval, faculty should serve as the principal investigator.

 

In your proposal, you must indicate that you understand the requirements of the IRB in your proposal and explain how you will comply with the requirements of the IRB. For more resources, your can visit this website.

Proposal Format

There are two types of proposal formats. Most students should submit Type I proposals. For students who wish to work in the Arts and Creative Humanities, Type II proposals are most appropriate. See detailed guidelines for Type 1 and Type II proposals below.

All students are encouraged to seek help from the Academic Resource Center (ARC) in preparing the proposal. If you are uncertain about whether Proposal Type I or Type II is most appropriate for you, you may consult the relevant Dean for your project.

 

Tips:

  • Remember to spell check! You are asking for money and your proposal should be a reflection of your commitment to the project.
  • You are highly encouraged to work with your Faculty Mentor on your proposal and to meet with them at least once prior to submitting the final proposal to review a draft.
Type I Proposal Instructions

Your proposal may be up to three single-spaced pages in length. We recommend using a 12 point serif font (such as Times New Roman). The proposal should include the following sections in order:

  • Title: At the top of the first page write your name(s) and project title. Do not include a cover sheet or separate title page.
  • Abstract: A summary of your research question and your project design. Researchers typically write the abstract after they have finished writing the rest of the proposal.  Include it as the first section on the first page of your proposal.
  • Research Question and Significance: What is the question that you want to explore in your research and why is it an interesting and important question?  In thinking about the significance, try to take the position of an educated newspaper reader.  If she or he were to see an article about your research in the newspaper, how would you explain the importance of your project?  Please be sure to put this information at the start of the paragraph.
  • Project Design and Feasibility: How will you go about exploring your research question? What will be your methods and timetable? How will this research fit into your schedule?  If you are not doing this as part of a course, how will you find the time necessary to do the research?  This section allows you to use discipline-specific language to explain the details of your project.
  • Group Partnership Plan (if applicable): If more than one student is applying for the same project, describe why you feel it is necessary to work as a group. How you will organize the work and what will each person’s responsibilities be? If you are in different locations, how will you communicate and keep each other accountable and on track for normal progress?  

  • Background: What courses or work experiences have prepared you to undertake this project?
  • Feedback and Evaluation: Who will provide feedback on and evaluate your project and according to what schedule and what criteria?
  • Dissemination of Knowledge: How will you share the results of your project? What form will your final report take?  We strongly encourage DURF recipients to present at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in May.
  • Project Budget (Optional): If you are applying for funding for a Project Budget, include a list of all the items you propose to purchase and your best estimate of the cost of each item. You must include specific vendor information - where you plan to purchase the item(s) and how much each item costs. All expense items should be explained either in the body of your proposal or in a budget narrative included on your budget page. For example, if you are asking for funds to purchase a piece of software, is that software available through the Library or a university or public license? Does a faculty or staff member have the software that you could use? The selection committee reserves the right to disallow certain line items and frequently  approves only partial budgets.
     

Please note:

  • The committee rarely approves course fee and conference fee requests.
  • Travel costs must be directly related to the proposed research and fully justified; the committee rarely funds airline tickets or international travel. Expenses related to travel to one’s hometown or home country from another country may not be included in the Project Budget.
  • Equipment purchases must be fully supported in the proposal and equipment must remain the property of NYU Shanghai; state which department at NYU Shanghai will be responsible for it when you complete your project.
  • Book purchases are approved only if you can show it is impossible to get what you need from a library or on loan.
  • If you are approved for the funding, you must submit original receipts/official fapiao for the approved budget expenses at the end of the project period.
 
Type II Proposal Instructions (For Arts and Creative Humanities Topics)

Your Type II Proposal should place your project in a larger creative context, while providing specific details about your objectives, process and product, as well as the anticipated impact on your development as an artist and/or humanist. A typical problem is to offer too broad a discussion and too much personal background. The directions below are intended to help you organize your proposal and present your information in a way that balances significance and detail and meets the requirements of grant-giving agencies, including DURF.

Your proposal may be up to three single-spaced pages in length. We recommend using a 12 point serif font (such as Times New Roman). The proposal should include the following sections in order:

  • Title: At the top of the first page write your name(s) and project title. Do not include a cover sheet or separate title page.
  • Abstract: The Abstract is a brief but specific statement of the project’s objectives, methods, and impact as you as an artist, musician, and/or humanist: what you hope to accomplish, using what means and resources, and why the project is important to you, your field, and to the larger world.
  • Project Narrative: The project narrative is a detailed discussion of your proposed project, including the objectives, the methods you plan to use, and how your project relates and contributes to the particular creative field(s). Below are some questions to help you get started:
  1. What makes your project original?
  2. Why is it important that you undertake this project?
  3. Objective or goal: What do you want to achieve?
  4. Conceptual approach: How are you approaching this project?
  5. Issues: What concern, problem, or need will the work address?
  6. Approach: What medium and genre will you be using and why are they appropriate for this work?
  7. Vision: What is your vision for the final project?
     

You should also describe how the proposed work fits into and advances the field’s current creative context and conversation. For example:

  1. What are the sources of inspiration for this project?
  2. How does it build on or differ from past or current work by others in the field and/or related fields?
  3. In what specific ways will this work advance the current creative context and conversation?

 

  • Project Process: Describe the process involved with the project.
  1. How do you plan to accomplish the project?
  2. Provide a detailed timeline, including:
    --Pre-production research
    --Production schedule itemizing tasks and allocating time
    --Post-production, if applicable
  •  Outcomes: Outline the outcomes of your project. Here are some questions to think about and address:

a. Benefit to the artist and humanist: How will this project/product enhance your interests and skills, directions and opportunities for further work?

b. Exhibition/Presentation: How, where and when do you plan to present your work? If no additional exhibition is planned, how will you disseminate the knowledge gained from the project? We strongly encourage DURF recipients to present at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium which takes place each May. 

 

  • Supporting Materials: Please include some supporting materials to clarify the proposal. These include prior art or creative work; links to online documentation; music compositions; sketches of proposed work; preliminary research; archive information, etc.

 

  • Project Budget (Optional): If you are applying for funding for a Project Budget, include a list of all the items you propose to purchase and your best estimate of the cost of each item. You must include specific vendor information - where you plan to purchase the item(s) and how much each item costs. All expense items should be explained either in the body of your proposal or in a budget narrative included on your budget page. For example, if you are asking for funds to purchase a piece of software, is that software available through the Library or a university or public license? Does a faculty or staff member have the software that you could use? The selection committee reserves the right to disallow certain line items and frequently approves only partial budgets.
     

Please note:

  • The committee rarely approves course fee and conference fee requests.
  • Travel costs must be directly related to the proposed research and fully justified; the committee rarely funds airline tickets or international travel. Expenses related to travel to one’s hometown or home country from another country may not be included in the Project Budget.
  • Equipment purchases must be fully supported in the proposal and equipment must remain the property of NYU Shanghai; state which department at NYU Shanghai will be responsible for it when you complete your project.
  • Book purchases are approved only if you can show it is impossible to get what you need from a library or on loan.
  • If you are approved for the funding, you must submit original receipts/official fapiao for the approved budget expenses at the end of the project period.
Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will DURF provide housing for students who want to stay in Shanghai this summer?

DURF does not provide housing. If you wish to stay in dorm in Shanghai for the summer, please contact Residential Life. The rate for summer housing can be found on Bursar's website. Please be aware that the housing rate is per 6-week period.
 
2. Can a non-NYU Shanghai faculty be the Faculty Mentor for my DURF research?

All current tenured, tenure-track, and continuing contract professors in the NYU Global Network can serve as Faculty Mentors for students' DURF research. Please note that faculty mentor should oversee no more than two projects, and not more than four students, during the summer.

 

3. Is there a specific timeline for students to conduct the research?

The DURF research timeline is relatively flexible because we want to give students more freedom in terms of conducting research. You could start your DURF research as soon as you receive approval from the DURF Program and ideally complete the research in the summer. Your DURF research can go longer than the summer but if the timeline for the project extends beyond the summer, it needs to be stated clearly in the proposal what the end date is and why. 

Previous DURF Projects
DURF 2017
DURF 2016
DURF 2015

2017 DURF recipients completed the following projects:

# Tiitle of Project
1 Dagongmei: Themes of Modernity and Labor Relations in Female Chinese Migrant Workers
2 Decomposing the Cultural Effect on Household Saving Behaviors in China
3 Dynamics of county level corruption in China
4 Homosexuality in Chinese Cinema Versus Reality: Identity, Home and Being Abroad
5 Parental Influence on Adolescent Romantic Relationship in China
6 Sex Education Interactive Videos for Chinese College Students - Research on Awareness, Communication, Impression on College Sex Education in China
7 Shanghai’s Food Delivery Industry: A Toxic Affair With Plastic
8 Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development in Rural China
9 The Chinese Cultural Subjectivity embodied in Shanghai’s Literature in the context of modernity —A Comparative Literature Research Based on Wang Anyi’s novels and Jin Yucheng’s novels
10 The Political and Social Structure of the Lower Class the Shang Period: A Critical Reexamination of Present Scholarship
11 Understanding the impact of key opinion leaders in the context of Chinese social media
12 What Does Weather Tell Us About Crime Displacement in New York City
13 What is Avant-garde about 85 Movement: The Use of Western Modern Art Tradition in Chinese Context
14 The easier to enter a university, the less students will study? The effect of one district’s higher education accessibility on the length of high school’s study hours
15 You Are What You Think: How Perceived Resilience Affects the Time Taken to Recover from Stress
16 Youth Unemployment in China
17 Can Sharing Economy Reform Education? From the Effect of MOOCs on Reducing Educational Inequality. A Quantitative Approach
18 Defining Economic Security and Insecurity in an Era of Increasing Inequality: Understanding Alternatives to the Poverty Threshold in the United States
19 New Model for Migrant Housing in Construction Worker Dormitories
20 Unsupervised Political Sentiment Analysis for Social Media and Its Application in Bots Detection
21 Characterization of Soap Films under Transonic Effect
22 Determining the DNA features that contribute to X-specific recruitment of the dosage compensation complex in C. elegans
23 Extension of Mover-Stayer Model with Covariates Using Revised Expectation-Maximization Algorithm and Applications
24 Implementing Bayesian Inference with Artificial Neural Networks
25 Optimization of Network Formation with Reinforcement Learning
26 Quiescent cell regulation under different nutritional starvation conditions
27 Training Induced Excitatory Change in dHC and Amygdala in Infantile Age
28 Principal Component Analysis of Quantum Algorithms
29 “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Alcohol"
30 Bundle Design in Retail Industry
31 Underpricing in China’s IPO and contributing factors in the market with distinct characteristic
32 Insights into the Impact of Capital Structure on Dynamics of Liquidation Decisions, and a Proposition for Policy-makers on Facilitation of Capital Structure Adjustments
33 The Chinese Dream of Disney: A Comparative Business Analysis Based on Shanghai Disneyland
34 Game AI Behavior Tree Optimization With Inverse Reinforcement Learning
35 How Can Bike Sharing Business Help Shanghai Public Transportation? — A Data Mining and Visualization Project
36 Improve Reinforcement Learning with Continuous Actions
37 Integrating Attentional Memory into Feedforward Neural Networks
38 One-Shot Learning with Hierarchical Network
39 Visual Analysis of Electrocardiography Data to Support Clinical Diagnosis
40 How Multi-armed Bandit Optimization Can Be Implemented In Common Smart Phone Applications
DURF 2016

2016 DURF recipients completed the following projects:

# Research Project
1 A Framework for Implementing More General-Purposed Artificial Intelligence (AI) Agent Using Monte Carlo Tree Search and Multiple Levels of Cooperating Neural Networks
2 A Unified Approach to Characterization of the Myerson Value and the Shapley Value Through Application of the Mobius Functions
3 Application of Deep Learning in Diagnosing Heart Disease
4 Application of Klein Bottle in Virtual Reality Maze
5 Asymmetric Dominance Effect in Two-Person Zero-Sum Games with Unique Mixed-Strategy Solution
6 Becoming the "Other": An Investigation into How Racial/National Identity Can Affect the Ways Expats in China Respond to Feelings of "Otherness"
7 Bring "Where" to "What": Integrating Attention into Convolutional Neural Net Based On Neuroscience Insights
8 Can Our Minds Influence Our Behavior
9 Characterizing HIV Risk Factors Among Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) Who Use the Geosocial-networking Application Jack'd in Shanghai, China
10 China and the New Orientalism of Ferdinand Marcos: Examining Asian Identity and Rhetoric in the Marcos Visits to China
11 Comparative Network Analysis of Twitter and VKontakte on the Spread of Information
12 Credit Ratings in China: What Are the Standards and Are They Effective
13 Designing New Deep Neural Networks Activation Functions with Computational Neuroscience
14 Dynamic Study of DNA Using UV Spectroscopy
15 Education Environment in Fujian's Neilong Village Primary School: A Case Study
16 Effective Inhibitors for Cyclin-dependent Kinase 6 (CDK6) in Cell Cycle