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TRELS Summer Research Program

UC San Diego TRELS students

Applications for Summer 2022 TRELS are CLOSED. Please check out the TRELS quarterly awards.

The Triton Research and Experiential Learning Scholars (TRELS) Summer Research Program is a 10-week paid experiential learning opportunity. The program takes place from June – August. Students selected will be awarded a $5,000 stipend which is paid in installments over the summer.


  • All current UC San Diego undergraduates in any major are eligible to apply.
  • A UC San Diego GPA of at least 2.5 is required in order to participate.
  • This program is intended to expose students to experiential learning, including, but not limited to research, guided artistic or creative projects, and public service opportunities, under the guidance of a UC San Diego faculty member. There is a particular emphasis on serving students who may face obstacles in pursuing such opportunities.

Project & Participation Requirements

  • TRELS allows students to experience, plan, and carry out simple studies to learn about the research process, broadly defined, with the direction of a faculty mentor.
  • Projects can consist of research or creative activities in the sciences, social sciences, engineering, arts and humanities, as well as public service projects and interdisciplinary activities.
  • Students are expected to work on their project for 30 hours a week.
  • Each student will submit a paper and/or final product at the end of the program, as well as present their work at the Summer Research Conference.
  • Attendance at the orientation and two seminars is also mandatory.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the TRELS summer research program?  How do I apply?

The TRELS summer research program supports students pursuing research and experiential learning opportunities during the summer session.  Applicants can be of any class standing, pursuing any major, and of any citizenship status.  All applicants must have at least a 2.5 GPA at UC San Diego, except for newly enrolled first-year students and transfer students who may not yet have an official GPA at the time of applying.  Students who participate in the TRELS summer research program will earn a $5,000 stipend, which is disbursed via your Student Financial Solutions (SFS) account over several installments during the summer.  TRELS scholars in the summer program are expected to be devoted full-time to their project and related TRELS activities over the full 10 weeks of the summer session.  Accordingly, TRELS scholars in the summer program are not allowed to work on campus or pursue courses for academic credit during the summer session.

Interested students should apply through the Undergraduate Research Hub opportunities portal during the Winter/Spring quarter prior to the summer for which they are seeking to participate.


Can I live off-campus while participating in the summer research program?

Yes.  You will receive your $5,000 stipend in several installments to help cover the cost of housing and other living expenses.


Can I take courses or get a job while participating in the summer research program?

No.  TRELS scholars participating in the summer research program are expected to devote their time to pursuing their projects and participating in other program activities, including research seminars and social events.


If I am graduating in the spring quarter, can I participate in the summer research program?

No.  The summer research program only accepts current UC San Diego students who will be enrolled the following academic year.


I am studying a field in the arts, humanities, or social sciences; am I eligible for TRELS?

Yes!  All UC San Diego students are eligible for TRELS, regardless of their field of study.  Research and experiential learning can happen not only in labs, but also in libraries, performance stages, art studios, community gardens, or anywhere else in the world where you pursue your intellectual curiosity.  We encourage students who have unique proposals for research and experiential learning projects to apply.


What is expected of me as a TRELS scholar in the summer research program?

Research and experiential learning are processes.  Accordingly, as a TRELS scholar you are expected to ask questions and seek opportunities for intellectual growth, with a firm commitment to pursuing your project.  To do this effectively, you are expected to plan your schedule at the beginning of the summer in order to commit time and focus to your project.  Think about what your main goals are, about what smaller tasks it will take to reach those goals, and about when you will accomplish those tasks.  TRELS scholars are also expected to submit a “deliverable,” or a tangible product of your project by the end of the summer in which you participate in TRELS.  This deliverable may come in one of many forms: a research paper, annotated bibliography, scholarly literature review, poster display, oral presentation, or some other agreed-upon format.

To advance a strong culture of mentorship, TRELS scholars are expected to maintain clear and consistent communication with faculty mentors and program administrators.  Furthermore, TRELS scholars are expected to support and empower each other in building a broader intellectual community across cohorts.


What is mentorship?

Mentorship—holistic guidance through the process of intellectual and personal growth—is at the heart of the TRELS program.  TRELS promotes the importance of mentorship between faculty and students, as well as peer mentorship among students.


What is expected of TRELS faculty mentors?

TRELS faculty mentors are expected to oversee the development of TRELS scholars’ projects and provide feedback along the way.  Depending on the field of study and project methodology, faculty mentors may teach TRELS scholars how to perform experiments in a collaborative laboratory setting, gather surveys to collect data, create and critique art, or analyze literary and historical documents.  Faculty mentors also play a key role in familiarizing TRELS scholars with the key questions and scholarly conversations in a field of study, offering suggestions for further reading and engagement with a topic.  Beyond the research and experiential learning processes, faculty mentors may help to identify additional opportunities across and beyond campus, as well as provide support in overcoming potential obstacles.


 Do I need to identify a faculty mentor before I submit my TRELS application? 

Yes.  As part of the application, you must identify a faculty mentor for your proposed TRELS project.  Your designated faculty mentor will then be required to complete a brief statement of support form, confirming that they will oversee your project.


Who can serve as my TRELS faculty mentor?

UC San Diego faculty members are eligible to serve as mentors for TRELS scholars.  In some cases, graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, research scientists, or visiting lecturers may serve as your primary points of contact while pursuing your project.  However, all TRELS scholars are expected to have a UC San Diego faculty member as their official TRELS faculty mentor of record.  If you are unsure about whether your potential faculty mentor would be eligible, please contact the TRELS program coordinator.


How do I find a faculty mentor? 

There are a variety of tools and strategies that you can employ to identify a faculty mentor.

Consider reaching out to professors who have taught you in courses connected to your areas of interest.  Talk to teaching assistants (TAs), instructional assistants (IAs), research assistants (RAs), or other people on campus who have shaped your intellectual life, and who might have contact with faculty members who serve as the principal investigator (PI) for a research lab.  Search the course catalog and departmental websites for faculty members who teach courses that you hope to soon take.  Utilize the Research Experience & Applied Learning (REAL) Portal and the UC San Diego Pivot database to search for faculty members working in fields related to your interests.  If you have an idea for a project, but are having difficulty identifying a potential mentor, please reach out to your college provost or the TRELS program coordinator

Once you have identified a possible mentor, reach out via email to formally introduce yourself, explain your research interests in relationship to their work, and request whether they would be willing to meet with you in-person to further discuss the possibility of serving as a mentor.  While, faculty members are busy—and sometimes may seem intimidating to approach—most often they are truly excited to meet enthusiastic young scholars who share their intellectual interests.


What makes a strong TRELS application?

While every application is different, there are some common elements of a strong application.  A strong application will present a compelling project proposal, convey the ways in which TRELS would be helpful for your intellectual journey, and express the connection between TRELS and your long-term goals.


 Where can I get help with drafting my TRELS application?

In addition to seeking feedback from your faculty mentor, consider visiting the Writing Hub at the Teaching + Learning Commons for feedback as you draft your TRELS application.


Can I receive credit for participating in TRELS?

Although you cannot receive academic credit for TRELS projects, you are eligible to receive official recognition for this work on your Co-Curricular Record (CCR).  The CCR highlights student achievements and skill development in opportunities beyond the classroom at UC San Diego.


How many times and I eligible to receive a TRELS award? 

You are eligible to receive a TRELS award for up to three academic terms during your time as a UC San Diego student.  These need not be consecutive academic terms, nor the same type of TRELS program.  For example, you might receive a TRELS quarterly award in Winter and Spring of the same academic year, and then again in Winter of the following academic year.  Or, you might participate in the TRELS summer research program, and subsequently receive a TRELS quarterly award for the following Fall and Winter quarters.  Funding for multiple academic terms is not guaranteed.  For each subsequent cycle in which you wish to receive a TRELS award, you must submit an application that includes a progress report about your past or ongoing TRELS project.


Why was I not selected for the TRELS summer research program?

We are eager to support all students looking to pursue research and experiential learning opportunities.  Unfortunately, we receive more applications than we can accept.  There are several possible reasons why a TRELS proposal might not be selected for an award.  In some cases, a statement of interest may not clearly express the connection between TRELS and your long-term career and educational goals.  In some cases, a statement of obstacles may not make a strong case for why TRELS would be helpful for your intellectual journey.  In some cases, a project proposal may be vague or need further development.  With any of these scenarios, keep in mind that you can always apply again for future TRELS award cycles, and seek support from the Writing Hub.  Also, consider whether your project may be a better fit for additional opportunities offered through the office of Undergraduate Research Hub.


I am a current TRELS scholar, and I am facing some challenges in pursuing my project.  Who should I contact?

Your faculty mentor is always your first point of contact for resolving questions related to your specific project.  However, if you require additional support or have certain issues that you are uncomfortable discussing with your faculty mentor, you can reach out to the TRELS program coordinator.


I have another question that isn’t answered here.  Whom should I contact?

Please refer additional questions to the TRELS program coordinator.

TRELS Coordinator Contact Information

Contact: Daniel Movahed