Have a question about the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship? Here are some commonly asked questions about the program.


What does the faculty mentorship for Mellon Mays imply in terms of time commitment?

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) is an undergraduate research and PhD preparation program. In the former capacity, the role of the MMUF mentor is primarily to serve as the person who teaches the fellow how to conduct primary and secondary research in their field in a rigorous and ethical way. While I, as program director, work with students on things like how to ask effective analytical research questions and how to engage in simultaneous practices of research and writing, the specific strategies for how to do those things within the realm of the particular field or discipline of the student's research is the purview of the MMUF Mentor.

With regard to PhD preparedness and professionalization, the program relies upon the mentor to facilitate the fellow's participation in relevant conferences in the field, to give the fellow guidance and feedback on drafts of fellowship and graduate school application materials, to write letters of recommendation for the fellow for fellowships and PhD programs, and to introduce the fellow—when possible and appropriate—to colleagues in the field.

To accomplish all of this, the program requires weekly hour-long meetings between the fellow and mentor during the summer program (typically the months of June and July) and twice-monthly, hourlong meetings during the fall and spring semesters. We also ask the mentors to attend the fellows' research presentations at the end of the summer program (typically the last week of July), at the Celebration of Undergraduate Research (typically the last Friday in October), and at the Senior Symposium (typically the last Friday in April) and to work with the fellow to prepare ahead of those presentation opportunities.

Beyond program requirements, though, MMUF is a chance to usher a promising student into the profession. This can—and often does—lead to longstanding relationships. My MMUF mentor is still a dear friend and colleague of mine, who continues to look out for and encourage me nearly 20 years from when we first met. Most of all, I hope to cultivate those kinds of connections between faculty and fellows in the program.

Is there a faculty stipend?

In recognition of the contributions of faculty mentors, the program includes a $600 ‘‘book awar’’ for each year that the faculty member serves as the mentor to a Mellon fellow. The award can be used for travel and supplies to support the faculty member’s research (excluding computers and membership fees of any kind, due to Mellon Foundation guidelines).

How do I access my faculty book award?

To access these funds, please send email to OUR administrative assistant Diana Tebo (dtebo@oberlin.edu) .

Would the student’s research necessarily have to be written in English?

A fellow is most welcome to write a project in any language. There are just three considerations: 1) In order to be in a position to share feedback, the Mellon mentor should be able to read and evaluate in the language in which the student is writing; 2) in order to share the research with the Oberlin community and at the annual MMUF Midwest Regional Conference, the fellow should be prepared to present in English; and 3) in order for the MMUF research paper to serve as a writing sample for PhD applications, which is an element of the program design, the fellow must write in the language required by the graduate programs for admission.

I want to nominate a student but do not know if the person meets the eligibility criteria for the fellowship. What should I do?

We encourage you to nominate any students whom you believe would be a good fit to conduct research—particularly if they are second-year or double-degree students in the second or third year. Once we receive a nomination, the program director sends out emails to nominated students inviting them to fill out an Information Form that we then use to determine the students’ eligibility. Applications only go out to students who have demonstrated that they meet the eligibility requirements by filling out that form.

How do student research funds work?

Mellon fellows gain access to $100 per summer and $50 per academic semester, for a total of $400 over the course of their two years in the fellowship. To access these funds, send email to OUR administrative assistant Diana Tebo (dtebo@oberlin.edu) .

How do student travel funds work?

Mellon fellows have access to $600 per academic year to travel to conferences, or other research related activities. To access these funds,send email to OUR administrative assistant Diana Tebo (dtebo@oberlin.edu) .