• Videos


  • Help



     The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is seeking undergraduate students to serve as guest researchers for the  Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program. SURF is focused on developing talent and experience for careers in STEM which supports the NIST mission. To learn more about the program, visit https://www.nist.gov/surf

    Learn more about this agency


    The SURF Program provides research opportunities for students to work with internationally known NIST scientists, to expose them to cutting-edge research and promote the
    pursuit of graduate degrees in science and engineering. SURF gives students an opportunity to:

    • Gain substantive career experience related to your academic interests,
    • Acquire lifelong leadership, management, and analytical skills,
    • Learn about a career in public service,
    • Build professional relationships, contacts, and networks, and
    • Observe the daily operations and working environment of a premier federal laboratory.

    Imagine Yourself in the NIST Laboratories

    NIST seeks students from a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines including (but not limited to) biochemistry, biology, biophysics,
    chemistry, computer science, engineering, materials science, mathematics, nanoscale science, neutron research, physics, and/or statistics. Students work under the guidance of a
    research mentor in the NIST operating units (OU). The following OU's participate in the SURF program at Boulder: Communications Technology Laboratory (CTL), Information Technology Laboratory (ITL), Material Measurement Laboratory (MML), and Physical
    Measurement Laboratory (PML). As part of the application process, all students are required to identify and select the top six research opportunities where they would like to be considered for a possible placement. For
    a detailed description of the research opportunities, students are encouraged to review descriptions at https://www.nist.gov/surf/surf-boulder/research-opportunities.

    While duties and responsibilities may vary by laboratory, all accepted students must:

    • Attend a weekly technical seminar series
    • Participate in extramural group activities intended to enrich their fellowship experience
    • Compose and submit an abstract half-way through the program summarizing research accomplishments
    • Deliver an oral presentation during the final week of the program

    Travel Required

    Not required

    Supervisory status


    Promotion Potential


  • Help


    Conditions Of Employment

    To be eligible for a fellowship all of the following requirements must be met:

    • Must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident,
    • Must be at least 16 years of age.
    • Currently enrolled as a full-time degree-seeking student at an accredited institution in the U.S. and its territories. Seniors graduating in
      May 2021 are eligible to apply to the program.
    • Must be in good academic standing (recommended 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale)
    • Able to pass background check.
    • Receive payments by direct deposit.
    • Verify proof of health insurance


    We are looking for students who are interested in gaining valuable, hands-on experience, working with cutting edge technology in
    one of the world’s leading research organizations. Additional preference will be given to students who possess the following

    • Interest in conducting scientific research in a remote location.
    • Current enrolled undergraduate (freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior) at a 2-year or 4-year institution of higher education in the U.S.
      or its territories at the time of application. Graduating seniors may apply to the program and must be a registered undergraduate at the
      time of application.
    • Pursuing a STEM related major including but not limited to biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, materials science,
      mathematics, nanoscale science, and/or physics.
    • Considering pursuing a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) graduate degree (M.S. or Ph.D.).
    • Commit to eleven (11) full continuous weeks (Monday through Friday) during the summer of 2021 to participate in the SURF Program. Due to the length of the program, students are not permitted to take vacation. 

      We especially encourage applications from groups underrepresented in STEM, including those who self-identify as a woman, African American, Black, Hispanic, Latinx, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, person with a disability, and/or LGBTQI+. 


    • Currently enrolled as a full-time degree-seeking student at an accredited institution in the U.S. and its territories.
    • Required to be an undergraduate majoring in a STEM discipline such as biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering (including
      nuclear), materials science, mathematics, nanoscale science, and/or physics
    • You MUST provide transcripts or other documentation to support your educational claims. Unless otherwise stated: (1) unofficial
      transcripts are acceptable, or (2) you may submit a list with all of your courses, grades, semester, year, and credit for the course. All
      materials must be submitted by the closing date of the announcement.

    Additional information

    • If selected, you are required to complete a background investigation suitability check.
    • Males born after 12-31-1959 must be registered or exempt from Selective Service (see http://www.sss.gov/).

    How You Will Be Evaluated

    You will be evaluated based on how well you meet the indicated qualifications.

    Once the announcement has closed,  questionnaire responses, and supporting documentation will be used to determine if you meet the qualifications listed on this announcement. If you are minimally qualified, questionnaire responses, and supporting documentation will be forwarded for additional review. If you are found to be among the top qualified candidates, you will be referred to the selecting official for consideration.

    Your qualifications will also be evaluated on the following criteria:

    • Fit of the undergraduate student’s stated interest and commitment to the program priorities of NIST  and objectives of the SURF Program.
    • Fit of the undergraduate student’s interests and abilities to the available NIST research projects and when appropriate, to the research priorities of NIST scientists and engineers in the specified laboratory program.
    • Relevance of the student’s course of study to the program objectives of the specified NIST laboratory in which that SURF Program resides
    • Quality of academic accomplishments. A cumulative minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is recommended for all completed courses taken as a undergraduate student at the current institution and at any institutions attended as an undergraduate student during the 5 years preceding the start of the most recent enrollment. (This does not include college or university courses taken while solely a high school student.)
    • Quality of research accomplishments.
    • Assessment of whether the laboratory experience is a new opportunity for the student which may encourage future postgraduate training.

    To preview questions please click here.

    Background checks and security clearance

    Security clearance

    Not Required

    Drug test required


  • Help

    Required Documents

    Your application must include:

    1. Responses to the on-line questions.

    2. Two (2) letters of recommendation from individuals (preferably professors, department heads, previous internship mentor, or academic adviser) familiar with the applicant’s education, training, experience, aptitude, or promise relevant to the SURF Program are suggested.
    Note: It is the responsibility of the applicant to notify their letter writers through the online application system. Letter writers will receive instructions on the content of their letters and they must upload their letters via the online application module by the closing of the vacancy announcement.

    3. Resume which includes professional and research experience.

    4. Undergraduate transcript. You must submit college transcripts (unofficial transcript is acceptable) showing your name, the name of your university(s), all courses completed, and cumulative GPA. Additionally, the transcript must provide proof of your enrollment.  Submitted transcripts must have all Social Security numbers and/or dates of birth removed (blanked out, blackened out, made illegible, etc.) prior to uploading into the application system. 

    5. Proof of U.S. citizenship or U.S. permanent residency .  Acceptable forms of proof of U.S. Citizenship includes, but is not limited to, a Certified Birth Certificate, U.S. Passport, U.S. Passport Card, Naturalization Certificate, Certificate of Citizenship, Consular Report of Birth (of U.S. citizen) Abroad, or Certification of Birth; Acceptable form of U.S. permanent residency is an unexpired green card. Note: Social security cards and driver license do not meet the requirements for proof of U.S. citizenship. 

    6.Proof of health insurance coverage by including a copy of a valid insurance card.

    7. Personal statement- The personal statement is the opportunity for NIST staff to learn more about the student and why he/she should be selected for a fellowship in the SURF Program. Students are encouraged to compose a personal statement which includes the following:

      • Commitment to participate in the program and work in a laboratory environment;
      • Description of relevent research experience;
      • Description of prioritized research interests;
      • How you expect to personally benefit from participating in the program;
      • Career goals.

    Students must submit all required documentation during the application process to be considered for review. Incomplete applications will not
    be considered for review in the SURF Program. It is highly recommended you preview the on-line questions for this announcement before you
    start the application process. [The sentence "To preview the questions please click here (hyperlinked)" is entered here by the automated
    system, and is visible on all announcements]

    If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:

    Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

    Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.

  • Help


    A career with the U.S. Government provides employees with a comprehensive benefits package. As a federal employee, you and your family will have access to a range of benefits that are designed to make your federal career very rewarding.

    Eligibility for benefits depends on the type of position you hold and whether your position is full-time, part-time, or intermittent. Contact the hiring agency for more information on the specific benefits offered.

  • Help

    How to Apply

    To apply for this position, you must complete the online application and submit the documentation, select the Application

    specified in the "Required Documents" section of the announcement.

    1. To begin, click Apply Online to access an online application. Follow the prompts. Note:You will need to be logged into your USAJOBS account or you may need to create a new account.

    2. You will be taken to an online application. Complete the online application, verify the required documentation, and submit the

    3. You will receive an email notification when your application has been received for the announcement.

    4. To verify the status of your application, log in to your USAJOBS account, https://my.usajobs.gov/Account/Login, select the Application
    Status link and then select the More Information link for this position. The Application Status page will display the status of your
    application, the documentation received and processed, and your responses submitted to the online application. Your uploaded
    documents may take several hours to clear the virus scan process.

    5. To return to your saved application, log in to your USAJOBS account at http://www.usajobs.gov/ and click on "Applications." Click on
    the position title, and then select "Update Application."

    Problems Completing Your Application

    If you have problems completing your on-line application, including problems submitting your supporting documents, please contact Dr. Brandi Toliver by email at brandi.toliver@nist.gov. 

    You must complete this application and submit any required documents by 11:59 PM at the close of the announcement or before the applicant limit is reached. Applications submitted successfully will receive a control number. If you do not receive a control number, then your application was not submitted.

    Note: Paper applications will not be accepted. 

    Agency contact information

    Dr. Brandi Toliver








    100 Bureau Drive
    Mail Stop 1090
    Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899
    United States
    Learn more about this agency

    Visit our careers page

    Learn more about what it's like to work at National Institute of Standards and Technology, what the agency does, and about the types of careers this agency offers.


    Next steps

    An initial review of applications received by the closing date will be conducted to determine the undergraduate student's eligibility and
    application completeness. Applications determined to be ineligible, incomplete, and/or non-responsive based will be eliminated from further

    At any time between February 15, 2021 and April 15, 2021, eligible students may receive an offer (by e-mail) for a fellowship.  While we encourage students to investigate what type of research is currently going on at NIST, students are not required nor encouraged to contact potential mentors. NIST anticipates notifying all students by e-mail of their application status no later than April 15, 2021. 

Fair & Transparent

The Federal hiring process is setup to be fair and transparent. Please read the following guidance.

Equal Employment Opportunity Policy

The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy And gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.

Reasonable Accommodation Policy

Federal agencies must provide reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation for any part of the application process should follow the instructions in the job opportunity announcement. For any part of the remaining hiring process, applicants should contact the hiring agency directly. Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

A reasonable accommodation is any change to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done that enables an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform job duties or receive equal access to job benefits.

Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, federal agencies must provide reasonable accommodations when:

  • An applicant with a disability needs an accommodation to have an equal opportunity to apply for a job.
  • An employee with a disability needs an accommodation to perform the essential job duties or to gain access to the workplace.
  • An employee with a disability needs an accommodation to receive equal access to benefits, such as details, training, and office-sponsored events.

You can request a reasonable accommodation at any time during the application or hiring process or while on the job. Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Legal and regulatory guidance

This job originated on www.usajobs.gov. For the full announcement and to apply, visit www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/586814900. Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at www.usajobs.gov will be considered.