What is the Internet Research Initiative?
The Undergraduate Internet Research Initiative (IRI) supports undergraduates at UCLA in pursuing revolutionary and unfettered interdisciplinary research on the Internet. For the last three academic years, twelve students from across the campus (including engineering, social sciences, physical sciences, the arts, and the humanities) were selected to each receive individual prizes. Prize winners participate in an intellectual environment with fellow prize awardees, lab space, and mentoring with faculty and outside experts. Each research year culminates in a final presentation of their findings. We look forward to the exciting projects that will arise from 2019-20 cohort of twelve, each receiving a $7500 prize to put their ideas into action.
Recipients of the prize will produce a research project that addresses some aspect of technology development, social trends or problems, the arts, ethics, and/or justice, as it applies to the Internet.
Undergraduates typically have little access to mentors, funding, laboratory space or faculty encouragement to explore their burning ideas and research questions. These students find themselves occupied with the daily work of classes, studying, and assignments, and are employed part time with jobs that have little benefit to their future careers or development. As a result, too often their innovative ideas are abandoned. Through this prize incentive, lab space and mentor and faculty support, the IRI inspires undergraduates across disciplines to put forward and implement their most revolutionary ideas.
Who is eligible to apply?
Applicants must be a full-time undergraduate student, enrolled in 12 or more credits, at UCLA for the full duration of the academic year (Fall-Spring) for which they receive the prize.
Are students from all majors eligible to apply? How is this program interdisciplinary?
Students from throughout campus are strongly encouraged to apply, including the humanities, arts, social sciences, natural and physical sciences, and engineering. There is no restriction to apply based on academic major, discipline, or research methodology. Insofar as research is applied, innovative and focuses on important questions of ethics and justice, we will consider funding it, regardless of a scholar’s discipline. In addition, recipients will be given a shared work space, where they will interact with other prize recipients from different departments across campus, as well as researchers on other projects, and lead the university community in developing interdisciplinary ties.
Do students need to know how to program/code in order to apply or do research on the internet?
Absolutely not. But students who possess these skills are welcome to utilize them in their research projects.
What counts as research “about the ‘ethical and equitable development’ of the Internet”?
We believe it is crucial to make this prize as broad as possible, while providing an important social justice and ethical frame for student projects. For this reason we seek out innovative ideas that pertain to envisioning a positive, inclusive future for the Internet technologies, including its social character, impacts, and opportunities.
Will critical or social justice research projects related to the Internet be considered?
Of course! Theses types of projects are encouraged.
Will projects primarily about art and design be considered?
Yes. As long as the project is related to, uses, or comments upon issues of the Internet and related technological developments or their impact on society, it will be considered.
What kind of output is expected?
Output can be nearly anything – a paper, a report, a demo, an app, a startup, a discovery, a work of art, a failure, etc. – as long as you can document your work in some way.
What are example milestones?
We leave this to the applicant to articulate, and the quality of the milestones and self-identified criteria for success will be considered in evaluating the applicants. These milestones and criteria may be adjusted in discussions with the mentor who chooses to work with them.
What kind of mentorship will be available?
A panel of luminaries from academia and industry, who serve as mentors — not bosses — to prize recipients. They will be responsible for guiding and enabling our prize recipients.
How will applications be judged, and the prize recipients selected?
Applications will be judged based on the clear articulation of their research goals, methods, milestones and personal commitment to completing their projects.
Who is involved in the project?
Leonard Kleinrock, Distinguished Professor, UCLA Computer Science
Peter Reiher, Adjunct Professor, UCLA Computer Science
Can more than one person or a team submit a proposal together?
No. Only research proposals representing the work of an individual will be considered.
Can a single student submit more than one proposal?
No. Only one application per student.
Will students retain in the Intellectual Property (IP) Rights of their work?
Yes. In accordance with the official policy of the UCLA Office of Intellectual Property, undergraduate students will retain the intellectual property (IP) of their research and any future products or projects developed from this research.
When will recipients of the prize be selected?
Prize recipients will be notified mid-Spring quarter.
Who do I contact if I have questions about applying or my submitted application?
Please send all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How is the prize money dispersed?
Prize money will be distributed in three quarterly installments during the academic year through UCLA Financial Aid. Because the funds are distributed through the Financial Aid office, the IRI program does not control the disbursement of funds. For more information about procedures and rules concerning grants and scholarships, please contact the UCLA Financial Aid office.
I already receive Financial Aid from UCLA in the form of loans, work study, grants, or other scholarships. Will this impact my financial aid offer?
Per Financial Aid policy, students are required to report any additional funding to the Financial Aid office, which may impact their original UCLA financial aid offer for the academic year. This could mean a reduction in other UCLA grants, work study, or loans if your expected academic and living expenses were met prior to receiving the IRI award.
IRI students may request Budget Increase to address this issue and allow funds from IRI to be used specifically for research-related expenses (rather than living expenses). IRI staff can assist with this process, but ultimately we do not make decisions about the disbursement of financial aid funds or the calculation of expected need.
What can students use the prize money for?
Students will only use the prize funds to support their research. For many, this will mean applying prize money to support living expenses in place of other part time work. For some, prize money may provide the necessary support to purchase equipment, cover travel costs, or other expenses incurred while conducting research. There are some restrictions. For example, you may not invest money in speculative markets unless this directly correlates to research.
What is required of the prize recipients?
Student researchers will be required to submit a report on their progress each month. This report will be shared with mentors to keep them abreast of the student’s progress. Students are also required to meet with IRI staff each month to report on their progress. Students should discuss their project with their assigned mentor at least once a quarter. In addition, they will need to demonstrate efforts towards meeting the milestone goals set in their project application. They will make a presentation of the results of their project at the annual meeting which marks the end of their prize year.
What is a successful research project in the eyes of IRI?
“Success” for an IRI research project will vary greatly depending on the type of research proposed. Because we support big ideas, we recognize that research may bring unexpected challenges and rewards. Students will be selected based on their commitment to adapting to and responding to these challenges and collaborating with their mentor and the IRI community to meet the milestones they identified in the research proposal, or revise them if necessary. Key to success is engagement throughout the academic year, communication with IRI program staff and mentors, and delivering concrete research findings or project outcomes.
Can students take their projects to market?
We will partner with UCLA’s startup incubator, the Institute for Technical Advancement (ITA) http://www.ita.ucla.edu, as well as members of the campus startup ecosystem. In doing so, our program will serve as a pre-incubator development phase by guiding student projects to the ITA if appropriate or desired.
Will it be possible to publish the results of the project?
Students are strongly encouraged both to present and to publish the results of their projects.
Will lab space be made available to IRI recipients?
Yes. We will provide space for students to conduct their research in the UCLA Connection Lab. Students will be provided with a desk, network connectivity, and access to Connection Lab resources, such as a workbench for simple hardware experiments, high quality displays, and computer server resources. Students will be sharing this space with graduate and faculty researchers doing advanced projects in the wide field of networking, which will provide a rich intellectual environment to support the IRI students’ work.