Information for Faculty Mentors

Information for faculty mentors

Thank you for considering becoming a WMF faculty mentor and thank you to all returning faculty mentors!

Complete the following survey to become a WMF mentor for the 2021 cohort. You will be asked information about your lab and potential student research projects so that we can update (or create) your laboratory web page.


Each year we place approximately 50 students in laboratories across Penn State and we are eager to do it again. This page outlines the program for faculty mentors and their associated responsibilities, and answers questions about the program. *We kindly ask that you forward this website to your colleagues, including those new to your department who may be interested in participating. 

WMF Mentor Responsibilities

As a mentor we ask that you provide a positive and fulfilling research experience for the student(s) working in your research group. The student should be engaged in a meaningful project and have data to collect that will address their research question.

Student internships are for 2 semesters (spring and fall semesters of one year) so please be ready to mentor your student for that duration of time.

Each mentor has a webpage that contains their contact information, research group info, and a description of the research project(s) that a student intern might become involved in.

Student time commitment

Each cohort in the WISER/MURE/FURP student research internship program participates for 2 semesters (spring and fall of the same year).

During the 2 semesters, students should spend 5 hours per week on all lab-related activities, including laboratory meetings, training, readings, and other associated research activities. We understand that this is not a significant amount of time, but the goal of the program is to introduce students to the process of doing research and spark their interest while not overwhelming them during what can be a tough first year.

What if a student would like to work more than the 5 hours required by this program? If this is the case, you are welcome to pay them an hourly wage or work with your department to create a independent study for any time exceeding the 5 hours required by WMF.

Selection Process

Students apply to WMF through an online application system. In addition to grades, short answer responses, and personal info, students are asked to select three faculty mentors they are interested in working with after reviewing the WMF research opportunities website. In some cases laboratories are selected by a large number of applicants, while other labs may not be selected. If your laboratory is selected by an applicant then you will have the opportunity to review their application, interview the student (optional), and decided if this is someone you would like to work in your lab. This process is done online starting in early November and you will be emailed with directions on how to access the website to view student applications. Once faculty submit their applicant ratings, we review them along with the student rankings (and their application info) and place as many students as we can monetarily support in the most compatible labs. We notify all faculty of the student placements prior to notifying the students of their acceptance.

Student Laboratory Support

For participating faculty mentors, the NASA PA Space Grant Consortium will support allowable lab expenses that are directly related to student research project. See below for examples of allowable and unallowable expenses.

    • Examples of allowable expenses: lab supplies (chemicals, test tubes, pipettes, petri dishes,), building materials (parts to build a radio receiver), microscope parts (bulbs, lenses), field sampling materials, software licenses, laboratory or computer time, instrument time.
    • Examples of unallowable expenses: foreign travel, equipment purchases, general office supplies (pencils, pens), human participation compensation, information technology systems (laptops, PCs, etc.), food/beverages for students/staff/faculty.

During the fall semester 2020, as Penn State continues to transition from IBIS to SIMBA, the process for receiving lab support has been modified. Allowable expenses may be direct-charged. Faculty mentors are asked to have their financial liaison contact PSGC Operations Manager Carol High ( for all questions related to funding and to receive a list of approved SIMBA GL accounts and information related to the appropriate general funds account to charge.

Student Travel

During the 2020-21 academic year, the PSGC is able to support the costs of student participation in virtual conferences, seminars, and workshops that are directly related to the student’s STEM research interests. Please contact WISER/MURE/FURP director Erin DiMaggio ( for more specific information.

Potential issues

While the majority of the WMF student intern/faculty mentor pairings work out exceedingly well, there are a few cases each year where these relationships are difficult. If you are having issues with your student intern not responding to email, completing their 5 hours/week on research activities, or other general issues please reach out to us so that we may help.

WMF Research Symposium

We host a yearly WMF Research Symposium in November to highlight the wonderful work that the students complete over the course of their internship. This is a nice opportunity to guide your student in the art of creating a research poster/lightning talk (they will need some guidance) and how to succinctly explain their project. Please encourage your WMF student intern to attend and present! For more information on this symposium please see the menu item or click here.

Program Timeline for WMF Faculty Mentors

  • September 9th, 2020 – Faculty acceptance/decline for program and website lab edits are due
  • October 1st, 2020 – WMF applications are available
  • November 1st, 2020 – WMF applications are due
  • November 4th, 2020 – Email sent to faculty with information on accessing WMF student applications
  • November 5th – 20th, 2020 – Faculty review of WMF applicants/interviews
  • November TBD, 2020 – WMF Research Symposium (for the 2020 student intern cohort)
  • November 20th, 2020 – WMF Faculty applicant student evaluations are due
  • late December, 2020 – WMF Students/faculty are notified of student placements.
  • January, 2021  – Students selected to the 2021 cohort begin their internship (internship is two semesters spring & fall 2021; it does not extent into the summer)

Program Timeline for REFS Faculty Mentors

  • September 9th, 2020 – Faculty acceptance/decline for program and website lab edits are due
  • September 14th, 2020 – REFS applications are available
  • October 1st, 2020 – REFS applications are due
  • October 2nd – 31st , 2020– REFS applications sent to faculty, student matching is completed via email
  • November 1st, 2020 – REFS students start