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American Heart Association and Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Frequently Asked Questions

In order to apply, do you have to be enrolled as a Virginia Tech student?

No, you do not need to be a Virginia Tech student. The American Heart Association Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC cardioSURF program will support both Virginia Tech students and students from other U.S. colleges and universities.

When is the application due?

Applications are due in full by midnight on Feb. 14, 2024.

How do I select a mentor?

Within the application, you will select several potential mentors from the Research Faculty Areas page of the website. Once accepted into the program you will work with the director of cardioSURF to match to a specific mentor and a lab. This will occur prior to the start of the cardioSURF program.

What does a completed application package include? Where do I submit my transcripts and recommendation letters?

A completed application package includes general information about the applicant, three short essays describing your participation experience in independent research, why you are interested in cardiovascular research, and what you hope to gain from participating in the cardioSURF program and how it might contribute to your career, an up-to-date unofficial transcript and GPA (16MB maximum file upload), and contact details of who will be submitting a recommendation letter (faculty member at your current institution, or a previous faculty mentor). A link to the application can be found here.

What are the program dates?

The 2024 cardioSURF dates are Monday, May 20 – Friday, July 26.

When can I anticipate hearing from cardioSURF if I have been admitted into the program?

Applications are due in full by February 14, 2024. You will be notified if selected for the program around the beginning of March. If accepted into the program, you will have one week to accept or decline.

Is there a minimum GPA I must have in order to apply to the cardioSURF program?

Yes, you must have a GPA of at least 3.0 or higher, and must have completed courses in introductory biology, chemistry, or physics.

Where can I see a list of the program’s activities?

A list of the program’s activities can be found on the Overview and Curriculum page of the cardioSURF website.

I am not a U.S. Citizen or a U.S. permanent resident. Can I still apply?

No. Unfortunately, you must be a U.S. Citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S. to apply.

I am not a member of an underrepresented minority group. Can I still apply?

Yes, you may still apply.

Who should write a recommendation letter for me?

A faculty member at your current institution that knows you well and can speak to your potential for a career in a science-related field. This can be a faculty member that has previously mentored you in their laboratory or has taught you in a course. We discourage letters of recommendation from non-faculty members, or more junior mentors you may have worked with such as teaching assistants.

How are cardioSURF participants chosen?

The cardioSURF steering committee will select applicants based on their GPA, letter of recommendation, and commitment to a career in science. Students need not be Virginia Tech students to apply.

Who can I contact for more information regarding housing during the cardioSURF program?

You may contact James Smyth, Ph.D., cardioSURF director, at, or Alexandria Pilot Chambers, DHSc, at

Is there an orientation session prior to the cardioSURF program beginning?

Yes, there will be orientation sessions and general instruction during the first few days of the program.

Is there an application fee to apply?

No, there is not an application fee to apply.

I am interested in more than one research area provided on your website. What should I do?

Great!  So are we! If you are interested in working with a research team not affiliated with the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute Center for Vascular and Heart Research, we simply require appropriate justification of interests and a project that aligns with the American Heart Association mission. Links to all Fralin Biomedical Research Institute faculty member research pages can be found here. An objective of this program is to expose students to many areas of cardiovascular research. However, you will have to select and match to a single mentor and laboratory. Once accepted into the program, you will work with the director to accomplish this.