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Advanced Undergraduate Research Activity (AURA)

Advanced Undergraduate Research Activity (AURA) is a spring and summer program to promote advanced research and creative activities among UT undergraduate students. All current undergraduate students enrolled at UT are eligible to apply. AURAs will be awarded to support students who will work to advance their research or creative project under the mentorship of a UTK or UTIA faculty mentor.

Stipends vary between spring and summer. Spring AURA recipients will receive stipends of $1500. Summer AURA recipients will receive stipends of $2000. AURA recipients are also eligible for an additional $250 stipend to cover research expenses such as data, lab material, or travel, but the need must be noted in the application. The faculty mentor of an AURA recipient will receive a $250 allocation for materials needed to support the AURA recipient. Please note that all student funding will be disbursed through Financial Aid. Students may receive an AURA for research conducted during a course.

The faculty mentor’s role is paramount, as they will guide the choice of a project and the practice of professional research approaches and methods. Projects may be a student’s undergraduate thesis, a part of the faculty mentor’s research program, another research project, or an ongoing project previously initiated. The key is that each student is involved in scholarly work independent of a classroom setting. Such work may be research, or it may be a creative activity involving the arts. Please note: This advanced research experience can be applied to an international research project as long as a faculty mentor at UT is involved.



  • Students must first obtain a faculty mentor to support their efforts in choosing a topic, completing the proposal form, and pursuing and completing the proposed project.
  • A stipend will pay students to support their Advanced Undergraduate Research Activity (AURA).
  • Students funded through spring AURA must participate in the Spring Undergraduate Research Seminar Series.
  • Students funded by this program agree to present their results at the annual fall research celebration, Discovery Day. If graduating in the same spring you receive the AURA funding you must present your research at an equivalent venue.
  • Students funded by this program agree to meet with the Office of Undergraduate Research & Fellowships at least once during the award period to discuss their current research and future research plans. 
  • AURA spring dates must occur January-May. Summer date must occur May-August. The exact schedule should me independently arranged between the student and faculty mentor.

How to Apply

Visit the application site to begin. The application can be completed in sections and saved for future additions and edits prior to submission. The application deadline for Spring AURAs is December 5th. The deadline for Summer AURAs is March 31, 2023. Awardees will be notified once applications have been reviewed.

The application includes a general information form and a two-page research proposal. The application will be forwarded to the faculty mentor for approval upon submission.

If troubles arise with the application process, please try the following actions:

  • Try to open the site in a new single browser window (Chrome, Firefox, or Safari).
  • Clear browser cache.
  • Try an on-campus computer or alternative computer. The UT VPN might help.
  • Let us know if issues continue to arise with the application after trying the above troubleshooting via email at

To aid the proposal process, we offer the following writing guide.


AURA Awardees will be selected based on merit. Particular attention will be given to supporting various disciplines across the UT campus, with preference to students who have not previously received an AURA award. The applicants and their selected mentors should read the following criteria to prepare their applications. Traditionally, awardees have received a 3 or 4 in each category.

Proposal Narrative (0-4 points)

Describe your advanced undergraduate research activity (scholarly or creative work). In the description, include the purpose, significance, methods, timeline, and the benchmarks you plan to use to measure your success. Also, please include any resource needs you may have. An additional $250 stipend is offered for an AURA awardee’s research expenses such as data, lab material, or travel.  

  • The proposal should be well written, well defined, and convincing.
  • The proposal should be complete with all parts clearly explained.
  • The project should be manageable and appropriate for the time frame.
  • The needed resources for the activity should be accessible and well planned.

Research Implications (0-4 points)

Describe the research implications of the activity for your discipline. Describe your dissemination intentions such as applications to national scholarships, organizations, and/or fellowships

  • Be sure that the qualifications, preparation, and experience you have as an undergraduate student are adequate for carrying out the project.
  • Describe your intentions to apply to national scholarships, organizations, and/or fellowships

Faculty Mentor(s) Impact (0-4 points)

Describe the faculty mentor’s involvement in the proposed project, why it matters to you, how it fits into your own academic journey, why you are passionate about it; describe your qualifications, preparation, and experiences for completing the project. 

  • Describe the relationship between your project and the faculty mentor’s own research, scholarly, or creative work or areas of expertise.
  • Describe the mentor’s past or present experience supervising you in coursework, research, or independent work.
  • Describe how the mentor has prepared you to undertake the project in the time period allowed.


  • Students awarded and AURA will receive and complete an AURA Acceptance form that outlines the details of the program and funding.
  • Upon receipt of the AURA Acceptance form, the department contact will be notified for payment administered by stipend through Financial Aid.
  • Departments will not be reimbursed for work done outside of the program dates. Summer 2023 program dates should occur within May 18 – August 19.