KNI SURF-the-WAVE Fellowships

KNI SURF-the-WAVE Fellowships

The Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) at the California Institute of Technology established the SURF-the-WAVE (STW) Prize Fellowships program to provide opportunities for motivated undergraduates who are interested in carrying out cutting-edge summer research projects in nanoscience at Caltech. In partnership with the Student-Faculty Programs (SFP) office and their SURF and WAVE summer programs, KNI STW Prize Fellowships are awarded to undergraduates at non-Caltech universities who plan to pursue PhDs in science or engineering.

Successful candidates will develop and carry out research projects with some of the world's brightest minds serving as their mentors: Caltech faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students. Throughout this 10-week program, STW prize fellows participate in educational and social events sponsored by Caltech’s SURF and WAVE offices, as well as additional specialized activities within the KNI community, to get a real sense of life as a scientist at Caltech.

This prize fellowship covers the full SURF or WAVE salary and up to $2,000 to defray housing expenses. The KNI strongly encourages students from all backgrounds, races, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and abilities to apply.

In order to be considered for the KNI SURF-the-WAVE Prize Fellowship, students must apply to either the SURF or WAVE program. Applications for Caltech’s WAVE program open October 1 and the final deadline is January 9, 2021. The application deadline for the SURF program has been extended to March 15, 2021. NOTE: due to extenuating circumstances involving travel restrictions under COVID-19, this year's prize is only open to US-based applicants.

Interested WAVE Applicants: Please join us on Thursday, November 12 at 10 am PT for an information session that will cover eligibility, the application process, award details and the summer schedule. You can sign up via the SFP website.

We highly recommend that candidates learn about and reach out to individual faculty members with whom they would like to work prior to submitting SURF or WAVE applications. You may find more information about KNI faculty board members and KNI-affiliated faculty members on our website, however candidates may work with non-affiliated KNI faculty as well, so long as the research project is related to nanoscience, e.g. quantum information, photonics, bio- or medical-engineering, sustainability, etc..

For questions, please contact Tiffany Kimoto at

Caltech SURF and WAVE Program Information

Caltech's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program is one of the “crown jewels” of Caltech. Since 1979, SURF students have had the opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of experienced mentors working at the frontier of their fields. Students experience the process of research as a creative intellectual activity from beginning (defining and developing a project) to end (presenting their results at SURF Seminar Day). Please visit the SURF webpage for full details, application requirements and timelines.

Caltech's WAVE program was designed to promote diversity within STEM and activities and strives to ensure that differing cultural, ethnic, social, geographic, and economic perspectives are represented. The program is extended, but not limited, to underrepresented minorities, women, first-generation college students, geographically underrepresented students, educationally or financially disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities. Please visit the WAVE webpage for full details, application requirements and timelines.

Read about our 2020 cohort of KNI SURF-the-WAVE Prize fellows here and our 2019 KNI SURF-the-WAVE Prize fellows here.