Outstanding Undergraduate Researchers Award Current Awardees

This award program recognizes undergraduate students in North American colleges and universities who show outstanding research potential in an area of computing research.

Eligible nominees are enrolled as undergraduates in a North American college or university throughout the academic year September 2014 to May 2015. They must be nominated by two faculty members and recommended by the chair of their home department.


Departments which grant Ph.D.s in one of the computing fields may nominate up to two male and two female students per year. Departments which do not grant Ph.D.s in one of the computing fields may nominate up to one male and one female student per year.

There will be up to one female and one male winner from Ph.D. granting departments and up to one female and one male winner from non-Ph.D.-granting departments.

A small number of other outstanding candidates will be recognized as Runners-Up and Finalists. All nominees whose work is considered to be exemplary are recognized with Honorable Mentions.

The four winning awardees will receive financial assistance of up to $1500 to attend a research conference of their choice.

The winners, runners-up, finalists and honorable mentions will receive appropriate recognition as well.

CRA gratefully acknowledges the support of Microsoft Research and Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs (MERL) who sponsor the Outstanding Undergraduate Researchers Award Program in alternate years. The 2015 award is being sponsored by MSR.

2015 Selection Committee
Eric Aaron, Vassar
Jeffrey Forbes, Duke
James Geller, NJIT
Lori Pollock, Delaware
John Reppy, University of Chicago
Lydia Tapia, U. New Mexico
Tom Wexler (chair), Oberlin Chair

Click here to fill out and submit the nomination form.

  • Questions and inquiries about the awards should be directed to undergradawards2015 [@] cra.org.
  • The deadline for nominations is Monday, November 3, 2014.
  • Winners will be notified Friday, December 19, 2014.

Guidelines For Nominators (Letters of Support)

The CRA award is about research. If a nominator can talk about his or her direct experience doing research with the nominee, that is the best use of the available space in the letters of support. CRA is especially interested in the nominee's specific contributions. For example, did the nominee invent a new algorithm, provide a certain proof, or analyze data and uncover new information? If the nominee published a paper, what was the nominee's part in the authorship, and did the nominee present it? After discussing research, the nominator should make brief comments on other aspects such as: community service, leadership, any special factors which the student had to overcome, teaching ability, or academic performance. However, please note that the order of the topics listed in the nomination procedure is intentional. While it is expected the winner of this award will have an excellent GPA and be a star student, details of how well the nominee did in this or that class are not relevant to this nomination.

Guidelines For Nominees (Resume and Research Summary)

Like the recommendation letters, the resume should focus on the nominee's research contributions. It is best if each research project is described in a couple of sentences and clearly states what the nominee did. If the nominee has published (and/or submitted) papers, it is essential to list them with full citations (i.e., full author list exactly as given in the publication, title, venue, year, etc.). It is helpful if the nominee’s contribution to the paper is specified either in the resume or the research summary.

The one-page research summary prepared by the student should focus on the research, providing specific details of what the nominee contributed. Remember that the award committee is composed of computer scientists; it is not necessary to explain NP-completeness or what a scheduler is. But the committee isn't made up of specialists in the nominee's field, so it is appropriate to explain the more abstruse details of the research. Concentrate on what the nominee did, not on what the project did overall. We are interested in the nominee's contribution, not the fact that the nominee's advisor's idea is a cool one. The more detail that can be provided on the nominee's part of the project, the better the award committee can understand what the nominee did. Special attention should be given to research, not implementation: for example, the committee is more interested in the algorithm the nominee designed than in the fact that the nominee implemented it in a particular new language. The nominee's publications (including submitted ones) should be noted and the nominee's part in them discussed; for example, did the nominee write the first draft, assume responsibility for a particular section, or contribute evaluation results?

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