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Berry Summer Thesis Institute

The Berry Summer Thesis Institute engages a cohort of  Honors students (between sophomore and junior year) from different disciplines/majors in a full-summer, on-campus program that includes a mini-course and provides intensive disciplinary research and scholarship opportunities. In addition, students take part in professional development workshops, community engagement opportunities, public presentation forums and cohorted social activities.

Program Goals and Outcomes

The Berry Summer Thesis Institute is designed to:

  • Introduce high-achieving students from all majors to scholarly research before their junior year.
  • Provide additional training and support for students in the research and writing process.
  • Provide additional opportunities for students to publish and present honors thesis research.
  • Enrich the intellectual and creative climate for undergraduate research and faculty mentorship on campus.
  • Enhance a sense of scholarly community among undergraduate researchers.

Program Components and Expectations

Each Berry Summer Thesis Fellow is expected to:

  • Engage in research/scholarship in the student's major under the guidance of a faculty mentor.
  • Participate in professional development workshops and activities.
  • Participate in a mini-course on research ethics.
  • Participate in community engagement with a Dayton community partner (5 to 6 hours per week).
  • Orally present a midterm research progress report.
  • Orally present a research report at the Berry Summer Thesis Institute Research Symposium.
  • Prepare and submit a preliminary and final draft of an original creative manuscript or topic literature review, to be published in the Proceedings of the Berry Summer Thesis Institute. (Visit eCommons for published editions of Proceedings)
  • Coordinate one lunch event and one social activity for the cohort during the summer.

Program View from Past Participants

View a video of past participants discussing the Berry Summer Thesis Institute.

Program Benefits

Berry Summer Thesis Institute Fellows will receive:

  • Full third-term on-campus housing for the summer
  • $2,000 summer fellowship
  • Research Funding (maximum $1,500)

Berry Summer Thesis Institute Research Symposium

Cohort members present their work at the Berry Summer Thesis Institute Research Symposium, held at the program's completion. All are welcome to attend.


  • Fourth semester (sophomore) Honors student
  • In good UHP standing
  • Strong interest in conducting an Honors thesis research project.

Faculty Mentors

Students are required to work closely with a faculty mentor willing to guide their research over the full summer program and potential Honors thesis. The faculty mentor must be full-time faculty at UD. The faculty mentor should work closely with the Berry Summer Thesis Institute applicant to develop the Institute proposal and budget request.

Berry Summer Thesis Institute mentors should:

  • Be available to provide thesis mentorship throughout the full summer program.
  • Attend the Midterm Presentations and the Berry Summer Thesis Institute Symposium at the end of the summer program. The UHP recognizes that professional and/or family commitments of faculty may conflict with the dates of the events.  Please let the Associate Director of Research know if you will be unable to attend either of these events.
  • Provide guidance and critical review of the original manuscript or literature review that the student will prepare for publication in the Proceedings of the Berry Summer Thesis Institute.

How to Apply

The application portal opens in December of each year, and the final applications are due February 9 by 11:59 pm.

Application materials and instructions can be found on Porches.

FAQs for Students

Yes. Students who are eligible to apply for the Berry Summer Thesis Institute must be a 2nd-year Honors student in good standing.

Yes. Participants must be on campus the full summer term. The BSTI runs for the full third summer term.

FAQs for Faculty

BSTI faculty mentors are expected to:

  • Work closely with the BSTI fellow to develop the proposal and budget request due February 9.
  • Be available to provide thesis mentorship throughout the full summer program.
  • Attend the Midterm Progress Report and Berry Summer Thesis Institute Research Symposium. (A conference or vacation on these dates will not disqualify a mentor.)
  • Provide guidance and critical review of the original manuscript or literature review that the student will prepare for publication in the Proceedings of the Berry Summer Thesis Institute.

The Honors Program provides a modest honorarium for faculty mentors. In addition, there is funding available for research materials related to the project available to the student to help with costs incurred ($1500).  Please note that all equipment, supplies, texts, etc., become the property of the mentor's academic department or program at the conclusion of the Institute and/or thesis process..

The type of research the student pursues, and how the time devoted to research is structured (students are expected to pursue their research project about 25 hours per week), is completely dependent upon the project, student and mentor. The summer research experience is an opportunity for the student to initiate an Honors thesis a year earlier than usual. The same type of mentorship that occurs in supervising a thesis project is what should happen over the summer, but is likely to be a bit more intensive, since the commitment to research activity is greater than during the academic year. There is a great deal of flexibility on how mentors and students pursue the research component of the Institute. The overarching goal is to provide students an opportunity to pursue a research project in depth, and in a way that will prepare them for the pursuit of an undergraduate Honors thesis.

The nature of the research project, and how it is conducted, is determined by the faculty mentor and the student. It will likely be an extension of the faculty mentor's own research interests/scholarship. In some cases a student may contribute to an on-going research project defined by the mentor. In other cases the student may engage in a separate but synergistic question related to the mentor's main area of scholarship, while others may have the preparation and insight to clearly define a novel question or project which will be pursued under the mentor's guidance. The process could be thought of as a way to cultivate a new generation of scholars/artists in a specific discipline.

Students can meaningfully contribute to a faculty mentor's scholarship in numerous ways. A student at the mid-career stage often has a sufficient understanding of the nature of a problem, but has not yet developed a purely disciplinary perspective. This enables the students to bring fresh ideas to the process. Students bring energy and spark to the discussion and can rejuvenate and motivate faculty in their own research. In addition, research projects can be carefully designed so that student contributions complement and actually further the scholarship of the mentor, leading to student co-authorship on publications and manuscripts. Mentoring students is also part of the UD mission as faculty, and as academics, to prepare future scholars in mentor disciplines. It is also a way to "pay it forward" in recognition of previous mentors who helped guide and develop current academics and scholars.

UHP Contact

Please direct your questions to:

Dr. Dorian Borbonus
Associate Director of Research
University Honors Program


Honors Program

Alumni Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0311