AU will begin funding undergraduate research projects this semester through three new programs, Interim Provost Ivy Broder told members of the Faculty Senate during its meeting Wednesday.
The programs make up the university’s first centralized effort to offer grant money for undergraduate research, Broder said.
The University Honors Program has also recently begun awarding grants to students completing their senior capstones. However, the grant program only applies to honors students, according to information on the university’s Web site.
The grant programs introduced by the provost’s office are open to all undergraduates, according to an information sheet provided by Dean of Academic Affairs Haig Mardirosian.
One program, the Summer Student Research Fellowships, is a competition that provides up to $2,500 per person for five undergraduates to pursue lengthy research or creative projects during the summer following either a student’s sophomore or junior year.
A second program, the Student Research Awards, is a competition that will give up to $1,000 in funding to 20 students who want to work on a research or creative project with the sponsorship of an AU faculty member.
The third program, the Research Expenses Fund, will provide up to $500 in reimbursement for expenses related to a student’s research or creative work, according to the information sheet.
Broder and a group of faculty and staff began planning the programs last winter when they asked the board of trustees to set aside a special allocation in the two-year budget. They planned further details of the program over the summer. The programs can currently provide up to $45,000 in research funding, she said.
The same group that helped Broder plan the programs will also serve on the screening panel that decides which students end up receiving funding through all three programs this school year, according to Broder.
Along with the possibility of encouraging AU undergraduates to do advanced research and creative projects, the programs are meant to improve AU’s student retention rate and to give students an advantage when they apply for jobs and graduate school, Broder said.
James Girard, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, said the grant programs are a great idea.
“This is something that will give new opportunities to undergraduates,” he said. “It will also make AU more distinguished as an institution.”
The Summer Student Research Fellowships and Student Research Awards competitions require students who receive funding to submit a report to the Office of General Education after the end of the funding period, Broder said.
“It will provide a record of the activities and accomplishments of the program and enable us to assess its impact,” she said.
Applications for the Summer Student Research Fellowships competition are due to the Office of General Education on Jan. 25, while applications for the Student Research Awards are due on Nov. 1. There is no application deadline to receive funding from the Research Expenses Fund, but the amount of money available is limited by the amount of demand the program receives, according to the information sheet.