College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Butler Summer Institute


Butler Summer Institute provides an opportunity for students to work one-on-one with a faculty mentor for two months during the summer on a creative, scholarly, or research project. Students are housed on campus for the duration of the program and receive a stipend. In addition to conducting their projects, students are expected to attend weekly luncheon seminars and other activities. Proposals will only be accepted from students who have already submitted a Letter of Intent on the appropriate deadline. For information on deadlines, please visit the website or call the University Research Programs office. Participants are not allowed to take summer classes or hold jobs outside of the program during the Institute. At the end of the Institute, each student will give a short oral presentation on the results of their project. A report summarizing the results of the project is due within 60 days of the end of the program. Proposal forms are available in electronic form on the web at /BIRS/?pg=2323&parentID=2319, or by bringing a formatted disk to the Office of University Research Programs (JH 240).

Purpose of Guidelines

The purpose of these guidelines is to help students in preparation of their BSI proposals. Because of the diverse nature of projects proposed, specific details will differ from proposal to proposal. If a student has questions about a specific proposal, he or she should consult with Robert F Holm, Ph.D., Coordinator University Research Programs, Jordan Hall 240, (317)940-9766,, or their faculty mentor.


The students are expected to write their own proposals, making use of all the skills they have honed in courses such as EN102 and ID103. The student's prospective mentor should review finished proposals prior to submission to ensure that they meet these standards. Finally, the proposals should be written for a well-educated general audience, not for experts in each particular field. This means that concepts should be explained in clear, jargon-free language.

Please note that we ask each mentor to write a letter of recommendation that will include a review of each student's transcript. The signature of the mentor on the letter of recommendation will indicate acceptance of the mentorship role.

Part I -- Significance of Project:

This section should be a brief description of the project as a whole. It should discuss how the project fits into the field. It should also include how the educational goals of the student are tied into the contribution to the field.

Part II -- Project Map:

The student should describe specific objectives or milestones and the timeframe in which he/she anticipates they will be accomplished. This should also include a way to verify that you have indeed achieved the milestone. For example:

  • Weeks 1 and 2:
  • During the first two weeks the fluorescent probe molecules will be covalently linked to the protein of interest, transferrin. These fluorescent probes will then be tested in a spectrofluorometer to determine the overall fluorescence per unit of transferrin. If, as is expected, we have a conjugation ratio of four fluorophores per transferrin we will be ready to proceed to the next stage.
  • Weeks 3 and 4:
  • Preliminary experiments will be conducted using cells grown on glass coverslips. These cells will be exposed to the fluorescent transferrin for varying periods of time to determine that the modified transferrin is still recognized by the transferrin receptors on the cell surfaces and to gain experience using the fluorescence microscope. If the cells are internalizing the fluorescent transferrin, it will appear as a punctate pattern throughout the cells. This will allow us to gather sample images to test the image processing protocol in the next stage.
  • Weeks 5 and 6:
  • Etc….

Part III -- Methods:

The methods section should be a concise description of the methods involved in the project. It should be written so that an educated non-expert can understand it. It is important that access to necessary equipment, supplies, or other resources will be available for the student's use during the period of Butler Summer Institute. If these resources are not on Butler Campus, the student or faculty mentor should secure assurances from the holders of the resources in the form of a letter to be included in the proposal package. It is also important that you state explicitly how long you will be off of Butler Campus to use those resources.

Part IV -- Pertinent Literature:

The student should submit an annotated bibliography of literature relevant to his/her project. The annotations should be a brief description of the content of the citation and its relevance to the proposed project. If, after consulting with your advisor, you feel this is not appropriate for your particular project please explain your reasoning in detail.

Part V -- Personal:

The section should include a narrative highlighting the relevant coursework that has prepared the student to undertake the project he or she is proposing. In addition, the student should describe his/her interest in conducting this project. If other personnel are involved in your project, please list them and describe their role.