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PURA is now in review – Good luck to all applicants!

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.

Program Details:

Award type: individual award (see NOVA for group projects)
Award amount: $3000 per recipient
Opens for applications: June 1
Deadline to apply: September 15 (11:59 pm)
Award announced: on or about November 1
Length of award: 1 year from award date

Questions? Please review the FAQs below and contact with other questions.

  • [?] Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. Applicant FAQs

    Who is eligible to apply?

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

    What kind of projects are accepted?

    Research, 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.

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

    1. 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 these students connect with a mentor if they have been unable to identify one.
    2. 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 fund passion projects in addition to projects related to your major or minor.

    Who can serve as my mentor?

    Your mentor can be a faculty member, research associate, staff member, postdoc, or a graduate student from any division of the university as well as the Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI), the Lieber Institute, and the Carnegie Institute. If your mentor is affiliated with the university through another institution (like NIH), please contact HOUR to get permission. If you have a graduate student or postdoc mentor, we do request that a secondary letter be submitted from the professor/ PI acknowledging that they are aware of the project and support it.

    What is required to apply?

    1. Basic information for the online application [name, JHU email, cell number, anticipated year of graduation, campus and permanent addresses, major(s), GPA and optional demographic information]
    2. A project proposal not to exceed 4 pages total including figures and bibliography (see proposal guidelines).
    3. 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 must get approval of the HOUR office if they do not have a Hopkins email address as our system utilizes SSO protocols for security.

    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 product due at the end of the project?

    Yes, all PURA recipients are expected to present their project at DREAMS or one of HOUR’s student seminars held throughout the academic year. This presentation must occur in either the same academic year the award is received or the following year. Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis after the recipient contacts the HOUR office about a conflict.

  • 2. Mentor FAQs

    Who can serve as a mentor?

    • Hopkins faculty, staff, post-docs, and grad students may serve as a mentor for this program.
    • Affiliates of Hopkins (Lieber Institute, Kennedy Krieger, Carnegie Institute, and some NIH) can also serve as mentor, but must get approval of the HOUR office if they do not have a Hopkins email address as our system utilizes SSO protocols for security.
    • If the primary mentor is a grad student or post-doc, a secondary letter from the primary faculty/PI should also be provided to show they are aware of the proposed project and to comment on the undergraduate’s ability to succeed.

    What is required of a PURA mentor?

    A PURA mentor is expected to provide support and guidance for the undergraduate, meeting with them at a schedule that you both agree upon. These checkpoints are intended to make sure problems or successes are addressed and next steps planned out. The mentor should also guide the student in the creation of their presentation, whether it take poster format or some other medium. The goal is for the student to have a positive and successful experience.

    We allow grad students and postdocs to be identified as the mentor because in many research groups and labs, they are the person working most closely with the undergraduate researcher. They then know the student best and have the most influence on habits, knowledge, and skill acquisition.

    What should the letter of support include?

    Your mentor letter should include the strengths and skills the undergraduate has that will enable them to successfully complete the proposed project. You should also touch on 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 leading). You should also include your intent as a mentor touching on what support you will be providing. There is no page limit for this document, but it must be in PDF format.

  • 3. Funding FAQs

    How is funding distributed?

    There are three ways to receive PURA funding. You must discuss with your mentor to find the right distribution for you and your project:

    1. The entire award can be transferred to the awarded student for discretionary use.
    1. The entire award can be transferred to the department of the mentor for use on the project.
    1. The award can be split between the student and the mentor.

    What can the funding be used for?

    PURA funding may be used toward project expenses. By transferring funding to the mentor department, the student can capitalize on university purchasing power.

    PURA funding may also be used for personal use to purchase a new computer, software, conferences, living expenses, travel.

    Any PURA funding unused at the end of the year should be transferred to the student or returned to the HOUR office.

  • 4. Reviewer FAQs

    How do we select reviewers?

    HOUR staff reviews each submission looking at: the proposal title, the proposal summary (first paragraph/s), mentor, mentor department, students declared major to gain basic understanding of the project. We then research university faculty and post-docs to find subject matter experts or field specific reviewers to serve as reviewers. This is a very time consuming process but allows us to make strong reviewer/ submission matches.

    What is required of reviewers?

    HOUR staff works diligently to not overtax our reviewers, limiting to a maximum of 8 submissions per reviewer. Reviewers utilize the portal (SMApply) that applicants use. We request 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 and 2. How viable the project is, to help improve skills on both.


Vice Provost for Research

265 Garland Hall
3400 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218

(410) 516-8094

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