Willamette University offers competitive research grants to interested and deserving undergraduates who wish to pursue specific topics beyond those generally encountered in the regular course offerings. These projects, which may be scholarly, creative or professional in nature, can be pursued as independent study or in collaboration with faculty research. They are intended to help prepare students for graduate and professional study. In recent years, projects have included creating illuminated manuscript pages using medieval materials and techniques, investigating the effects of common pesticides on the reproductive cycle of frogs, collaborating to write and produce two short films, traveling to Okinawa to investigate Japanese attitudes towards the U.S. military presence, and composing music for wind ensemble. Carson grant recipients have gone on to present the results of their research at professional academic conferences, such as the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and the Conference of the Northwest Speech Communications Association, and some have had their work published in scholarly journals, including the Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America and Willamette's Journal of Undergraduate Research. The Carson Research Grants draw on an endowed fund and are named for a former dean, Dr. Julie Ann Carson, of the College of Liberal Arts.
The guidelines for the Carson Undergraduate Research Grants are to be used by students, faculty, and the committee that awards grants. In developing a proposal, a student should use the guidelines as a basis for project design and then continue asking questions of faculty members, past grant recipients, and former sponsors. A much more detailed set of guidelines and timetables can be found on the Student Academic Grants and Awards website. Sample proposals are available in the SAGA office.
All Willamette students who will be enrolled in a bachelor's degree program at Willamette in the year following the award and who have not already received a grant are eligible and encouraged to apply for a Carson Undergraduate Research Grant. (Graduating seniors are not eligible. Past recipients are also not eligible.)
Awards will only be given to Willamette students who are sponsored by a Willamette University faculty member or by a faculty member or professional at some other approved institution. The sponsor must endorse the student proposal and complete the sponsor recommendation form.
Grants are most likely to be awarded for proposals that meet the following criteria: (a) the applicant has the necessary ability and academic background to carry out the project; (b) the project is sufficiently significant so that carrying it out will enhance the student's intellectual development; (c) the project is well-conceived, well-planned and likely to be completed within the period of the grant; (d) the project should result in a product, whether scholarly or creative (in addition to any performance or exhibit involved); (e) the project is not part of coursework carrying academic credit or otherwise required for graduation; (f) the faculty or professional sponsor has an appropriate role in the student's carrying out the project, and has the necessary training and knowledge to supervise the student.
The maximum amount awarded is $3,000 to cover stipend, supplies, travel expenses, per diem, or expenses related to attending conventions, festivals, etc. Expenses relating to coursework will not be funded.
The sponsoring faculty member or other professional is required to supervise the student throughout the project and/or see that the student is adequately supervised by someone at an approved institution. The sponsor must submit a one-page summary evaluation of the research project to the Office of Student Academic Grants and Awards within 30 days of completion of the project.
Proposals should be submitted to the Office of Student Academic Grants and Awards (Putnam University Center, 3rd floor). The deadline for submission of proposals and the sponsor's recommendation is typically mid-February. Announcements of awards are made prior to spring break.
It is strongly recommended that students who are interested in applying for grants attend information sessions sponsored by the Undergraduate Grants and Awards Committee. Information sessions, led by the Director of Student Academic Grants and Awards and past grant recipients, are designed to explain the research program, answer questions, and encourage participation in the Carson program. Questions about the Carson Summer Undergraduate Research Grant Program should be directed to the Office of Student Academic Grants and Awards.