Grua-O'Connell Faculty/Student Research Award

Phase One Application Deadline: Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at noon
Phase Two Application Deadline: Thursday, October 2, 2014 at noon

Description. In 2007 Peter J. Grua ’76 and Mary G. O’Connell ’76 generously created an endowed fund to support, regardless of discipline, faculty-mentored student research.  Awards from this fund will support student travel that will substantially enhance students’ honors projects or research being conducted under the mentorship of a faculty member (e.g., travel to library/archive or to another location to conduct research, or travel to a conference to present results).  Awards from this fund may also be used to defray students’ research expenses such as purchasing of books and equipment, publishing research results, or any combination of these expenses.

Eligibility.  All students may apply; however, preference will be given to seniors whose proposed Grua/O'Connell project will be completed during, but not after, their senior year and relates to their honors project. 

APPLICATION PROCESS: Scholarly mentoring is crucial for a positive research fellowship experience. Interested students are encouraged to talk with faculty early in the process so that they can identify a faculty member who will be available and willing to mentor the student throughout the fellowship period.

The Grua/O'Connell Research Award involves a two phase application process. 

PHASE ONE APPLICATION: The phase one application is very simple and will take a student less than five minutes to complete.  For the phase one application, students will need to input their contact information, their mentor's name and email, and upload a PDF of their unofficial transcript from Polaris.  When a student submits the phase one online application, he will receive an email with a link to the phase two online application form, and his recommender will receive an email with instructions on how to upload a letter of recommendation.

PHASE TWO APPLICATION: The phase two online application (deadline noted above) requires the applicant to submit a two-page project description and budget. The faculty mentor's letter of recommendation is also due by the phase two deadline.

Late applications will not be accepted, so please plan accordingly. Contact Corey Colwill with any questions.

 Please note that there is limited funding available, and the application pool is extremely competitive. As a result, the Internal Student Fellowships Committee has to make very difficult decisions, resulting in some strong applications being left unfunded. An application, however, will be more competitive if it adheres to the following guidelines.

Selection Criteria. Members of the Internal Student Fellowships Committee review applications and base their award decisions on the following:

  • Fit with fellowship criteria. The extent to which the proposed project meets the aims of the particular fellowship to which the student is applying should be explicitly stated.
  • Relevance and significance of the proposed project. How the proposed activities relate and make an original contribution to the broader scholarly or creative field should be clear. 
  • Description of the proposed project. The research question or goal should be clearly stated and the methodology, processes and procedures plainly explained. The description should be concise, free of unnecessary jargon (or with specific terms defined) and easy to understand by a non-specialist. 
  • Feasibility/scope of the proposed project. Evidence that the student has sufficient expertise, gained through previous coursework or research experience, to carry out the proposed project should be clearly outlined. In addition, what the student aims to complete, and by what dates, should be evident. The project should have a reasonable expectation of being completed.
  • Candidate's academic record. No GPA minimum is required; however, the transcript should provide evidence of sufficient coursework in the area of the proposed project and grades should indicate a strong understanding of the subject matter and likelihood of being able to carry out the project.  
  • Potential for learning. How the project will significantly enhance the student’s academic development (e.g., completion of an honor’s project) and possibly career and personal development (e.g., presentation at a conference, preparation for graduate school) should be clearly stated.
  • Faculty mentor's letter of recommendation. The letter of recommendation should evaluate the student’s qualifications to carry out the proposed project and assess the appropriateness of the proposed project’s scope within the context of the discipline. Letters should also describe the faculty-student mentoring relationship in some detail (e.g., how often will the mentor and student meet, what are the mentor’s expectations for the student) and why this plan is appropriate for this project. It is expected that faculty mentors will review student proposals before submission.
  • Budget. The budget should be comprehensive, specific, and reasonable. All costs should be relevant and essential to the project and be justified in the budget narrative. In general, budgets demonstrating frugality will be more competitive (e.g., shared accommodations, use of public transportation). Information about domestic and international travel costs can be found on the websites of the U.S. General Services Administration and U.S. Department of State, respectively. Students are advised, however, that the rates provided on these websites are in the higher range of what the Internal Student Fellowships Committee would expect to see in a student’s budget. 

Frequent Problems

  • Proposed activity’s contribution to the broader field or community not clearly stated.
  • Procedures omitted, vaguely stated, or unrelated to the project; project unrealistic or unlikely to succeed.
  • Failure to speak adequately to the student’s development.
  • Failure to demonstrate the student’s and the mentor’s engagement in the project.
  • Inflated or unreasonable budget, or narrative or notes that do not clearly support the budget.
 

In addition to the above, please also keep in mind:

  • Inadequate attention to style raises questions about the student’s commitment to the project and likelihood to succeed.
  • Brevity and lack of detail in the faculty member’s letter of recommendation raise questions about the degree of faculty support for the project.
  • the quality of the proposed project and the candidate's narrative description,
  • the extent to which the proposed project meets the aims of the Grua/O'Connell Research Award,
  • the candidate's academic record, particular interests and competence,
  • the faculty mentor's letter of recommendation, and
  • the extent to which the faculty-student mentor relationship is described and appropriate to the project.

Award. Grua/O’Connell Student Research Awards can be used in conjunction with other sources of funding from the College (e.g., a College-awarded fellowship) or external sources (e.g., a faculty grant); however, preference will be given to applicants without other sources of funding.  Normally, these awards will not exceed $2,000, and the College anticipates making 12 awards during the fall 2014 selection process.