Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor
The College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Missouri–St. Louis is sponsoring 10 undergraduate research grants with a maximum of $1000 per grant.
The college had been giving out research scholarships every year for three years, but due to budget cuts the college did not give out any scholarships last year.
Students must be majoring in a degree program in the College and Arts and Sciences and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher in order to apply. Students are able to submit their research/creative project proposals to Senior Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Teresa Thiel. The proposals are then reviewed by a number of faculty members from different departments who determine whether the student’s work qualifies them for a grant.
“We look for evidence that the student is actively involved in a research project,” Thiel said.
The kinds of research/creative projects that are qualifiable for these grants are diverse. If a student’s research project is in the sciences, they could work under the supervision of someone in an environment such as a research lab. A student in the arts could plan a creative project that can be a creative work such as music or art.
“The College of Arts and Sciences is so diverse in terms of disciplines, it can be many different things,” Thiel said.
However, every research project is required to be done under the supervision of a faculty member, who may or may not provide the idea for the research project.
“The first step is to have a project and a faculty sponsor who is willing to do it,” Thiel said. “A research project is always done with a faculty member who helps to guide the student.”
The proposals are then analyzed for the contribution the student’s project would make.
“We think about how the project adds to our knowledge or creative works or in some cases how it’s a component of a larger project,” Thiel said.
One of the biggest mistakes Thiel sees when students turn in their proposals is in their word choice.
“One of the things I’ve noticed about students is that they often become experts so quickly that they forgot what they did not know,” Thiel said. “This is really bad in the sciences where a student has learned the jargon and they forget to explain things in a way people outside the discipline understand.”
The committee that reviews the research/creative project proposals come from different disciplines, meaning students have to be able to write a clear description of what they are doing in a language that is understandable to people in other disciplines.
“That’s great training for them for after they finish their degree,” Thiel said. “All of us need to be able to communicate to a broader audience, no matter what our discipline.”
The money students receive from these grants can be used for travel if a student wants to do their research somewhere or present their work at a conference, supplies such as lab equipment or an online program, pay the participants of their study and more.
“It can be used for any funding towards the research project,” Thiel said. “The one thing it can’t be used for is paying tuition.”
The college is unable to allow students to use their grant money towards tuition because that would make it classifiable as a scholarship, which means it would have to go through Financial Aid, complicating the process. Additionally, the money reserved for the research/creative project grants is not scholarship money.
“The source of the money is not for scholarships,” Thiel said.
Thiel believes participating in research/creative projects can make a student learn the difference from what they thought they were coming to college to learn and what they end up becoming involved in.
“For many students, becoming involved in a research experiment can be life-transforming. I have had students who never thought they were interested in a career in research until they got involved in it,” Thiel said.
Students in the College of Arts and Sciences are able to submit their applications to Thiel until 5 p.m. Nov. 1.