Grua/O'Connell Research Award

Phase One Deadline: Monday, September 19 at noon

Phase Two Deadline: Thursday, September 29 at noon

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 support 1) 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), or 2) students’ research expenses such as purchasing of books and equipment, publishing research results, or any combination of these expenses.

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.

Please be reminded that Bowdoin’s Honor Code applies to the fellowship application process.

Grua/O’Connell 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 15 awards during the fall 2016 selection process.

Phase One Application:

The phase one online application (see deadline above) will require you (the student) to provide:

  • student name and e-mail address
  • contact information for your faculty mentor
  • an uploaded PDF of your unofficial academic history from Polaris
  • a brief paragraph describing your proposed research (This will not be considered during the evaluation process; it is purely for the benefit of your faculty mentor.)

When you submit your phase one online application, your mentor will receive an e-mail explaining how to submit a letter of support by the phase two deadline, and you will receive a confirmation email with a link to your phase two application.  The phase one deadline pertains to student applicants only; the letter of support from your faculty mentor is due by the phase two deadline.   If you have any problems or questions, please contact Corey Colwill.

If you are even considering applying for an institutional fellowship, you are encouraged to submit a phase one application. You can withdraw from the process by contacting Corey Colwill and your faculty mentor. There is no need to complete a phase two application if you are no longer interested in being considered for an institutional research fellowhsip. 

Phase Two Application:

Once you submit your phase one application, you will receive an email with a link to your phase two application. The phase two application will ask for:

  • more detailed student-identifying information (such as Student ID, SU Box, etc.)
  • a two-page, single-spaced project description (for detailed instructions on what your project description should include, please refer to the "Selection Criteria" below)
  • budget and justification (click here for a sample budget)

Additionally, faculty mentors will be expected to email their letters of recommendation to Corey Colwill (ccolwill@bowdoin.edu) by the phase two deadline.



Please note that there is limited funding available, and the application pool is extremely competitive. As a result, the 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.

Members of the Student Fellowships Committee, an interdisciplinary group of faculty and staff, 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 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 the project. Faculty mentors will be expected to review student proposals before submitting their letters.
  • 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). For a sample itemized budget, click here. 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 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.

Bowdoin College is committed to the proper and humane treatment of all human and animal research subjects.

  • Research involving vertebrate animals must be covered by a protocol approved by Bowdoin's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) before any research can commence.  Often a student’s research project will fall under the auspices of a faculty member’s existing protocol.  Talk with your faculty mentor and visit the IACUC website to learn whether you must submit an application to Bowdoin’s IACUC.  If you are required to submit an application, it must be approved prior to beginning your research and before you can receive your first stipend payment.  Please plan to submit your application two months prior to beginning your research.
  • If your research involves human subjects, you may be required to submit a protocol application form to Bowdoin’s Institutional Research Board (IRB).  Please talk with your faculty mentor and visit the IRB website to determine if your project requires IRB review.  If IRB review is required, your application must be approved prior to beginning your research and before you can receive your first stipend payment.  Please plan to submit your application two months prior to beginning your research.

If you are unsure whether your project needs approval, please contact either the IACUC or IRB chair, depending on whether your research involves vertebrate animals or humans, respectively.  The chairs can be contacted via the IACUC and IRB websites.

Deadline for letters of recommendation:  Thursday, September 29 at noon

How to submit your letter of recommendation?  Once a student submits his or her phase one application, an automated email will be sent to the faculty mentor(s) that the student listed in the application. Faculty mentors will be expected to email their letters of recommendation to Corey Colwill (ccolwill@bowdoin.edu), following the instructions sent to them in the automated email, by the phase two application deadline of Thursday, September 29 at noon.

What should a letter of recommendation include?  The letter of recommendation should evaluate the student’s qualifications to carry out the proposed project and assess the appropriateness of the 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 the project. Please note: brevity and lack of detail in the faculty mentor’s letter of recommendation raise questions about the degree of faculty support for the project.  Faculty mentors will be expected to review student proposals before submitting their letters.

For information on how a student's proposal will be evaluated, please see the "Selection Criteria" tab.

Overview:  All recipients of the Grua/O'Connell Research Award are required to submit a final report, which will be posted on the Recent Bowdoin Fellows page on the Student Fellowships and Research web site.  These final reports provide a rich archive of student research and reveal to the campus community and beyond the impressive breadth and depth of Bowdoin students’ research.  Final reports are also often shared with the donors whose generous contributions made these research experiences possible.

Formatting: We offer a sample final report template here. Because we would like these summaries to have a uniform look, please follow these guidelines:

  • Limit your report to one page.
  • Use Times New Roman, at least 11 pt font;
  • Have at least ½” margins on the right and left;
  • Use single-spaced paragraphs;
  • Center and bold your project title (upper and lower case) at the top of the page;
  • Beneath your project title, center and bold your name, followed by your class year (e.g., Cindy Stocks, Class of 2017);
  • Below your name, provide a project summary understandable to someone outside of your discipline;
  • If applicable, include graphs, images, figure;
  • Below your project summary, bold and left justified, write “Faculty Mentor:” and include your mentor’s name;
  • Below your faculty mentor’s name, bold and left justified, write “Funded by the”  and include the official name of your fellowship; and
  • If applicable, include any references.


Submission:  Students should electronically submit their final reports in PDF format to Corey Colwill, Administrative Coordinator for the Office of Student Fellowships and Research.

Questions:  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Cindy Stocks or Corey Colwill.