WashU Research Mentor Nomination
Awards are based on nomination by a WashU faculty mentor, who must be a WashU Faculty Living Earth Collaborative Biodiversity Fellow or Living Earth Collaborative Post-Doc. If a student is working with a Biodiversity Fellow who is not a WashU Faculty member, a WashU Faculty member must co-nominate and co-mentor the student. The recommendation involves short answers (NOT a traditional letter of recommendation) regarding the following criteria:
- Importance: Describe the importance of the proposed research or creative activities to the student’s academic and professional development and progression.
- Feasibility: Address the feasibility of the scope and timeline of the project. What potential barriers or constraints could interfere with progression of the project, and how might the student circumvent them? What product or milestone should the student achieve by the end of the research period?
- Disciplinary Contribution: Discuss the potential contribution of the proposed project to the relevant field of inquiry. What new knowledge, insights, tools, community impact, etc. might this project generate?
- Student Potential: Describe the student's commitment and capacity to undertake the proposed project. What experiences or indicators demonstrate the student's readiness and potential to advance the work?
- Mentoring: Briefly outline your role in the project and how you and/or your research group hope to support the student in reaching project objectives.
Second Faculty Recommendation
Awards are also made based on a second faculty recommendation, e.g., from a faculty advisor or course instructor with some knowledge of the student's goals, skills, and capacity to contribute to a summer research project. As above, this recommendation involves short answers (NOT a traditional letter of recommendation) to the following questions:
- How long have you known the student and in what capacity?
- What experience or indicators demonstrate the student's interest or aptitude for research?
- How do you believe the student would benefit from a summer research experience?
You are responsible for authoring your 2-4 page double-spaced research proposal, which we strongly advise you share with your prospective mentor. It should include:
- Goal: State your research question(s)
- Introduction: The introduction should provide the background and give the motivation for the proposed project. Discuss your project's relationship to your mentor's ongoing work, but also situate the research question(s) within the broader disciplinary context: explain previous studies, concepts, or theories relevant to your research. Given this context, highlight the disciplinary gap the project addresses and what new knowledge or understanding it will contribute. State your hypothesis where applicable.
- Project Description: This section should specifically describe what you will do and how you will do it. Describe your method of inquiry and outline resources you will need. Explain the overarching methodological approach and your specific responsibilities. This section should outline the rationale and individual steps required to identify, examine and analyze the data/information collected.
- Expected Outcome: Describe data you expect to collect and possible interpretations and implications.
- Importance for the student: Identify the academic, personal, and/or professional goals the proposed project will advance. This section should specify how the faculty-mentored project will uniquely contribute to the students’ development of specific academic, personal, and professional competencies.
The proposal may include citations in any standard notation format is acceptable. Write the research proposal such that a reviewer with an advanced degree, but who is not an expert in your specific field, can understand and appreciate your proposal.
NOTE: Some projects may not fit the above format for writing the proposal, BUT will still qualify for support. If you are unsure whether your project is eligible for support, please inquire before applying.
You may ask your research mentor and/or others in the lab to review your research proposal and make editorial and scientific suggestions; however, the proposal must be written by you, the student. Please see the WashU Undergraduate Student Academic Integrity Policy for details on plagiarism and collaboration for guidance as your prepare your proposal.
Provide a weekly timeline that outlines the work you will execute to achieve project outcomes and when it will be carried out. This document should demonstrate the project's feasibility and help you track your progress over the summer. Relevant elements of this timeline include:
- Key preparatory, training and methodological steps of the project
- Milestones and deliverables (i.e., what you will achieve or produce, such as the ability to conduct experiments with minimal oversight, an optimized protocol for data collection, a lab meeting presentation, etc.)
- Critical communication points with your mentor (e.g., to obtain feedback)
- Anticipated project period dates and work hours
Budgets for Travel-Based Projects
For research requiring extensive travel and/or fieldwork, the award amount is not determined by project length, but is budget based. Students can request up to $5000 and should include all applicable project related costs in a detailed budget, including:
- Transportation (e.g., airfare, ground transportation)
- Room and board (e.g., lodging, meals)
- Research supply costs (e.g., archive admission, translation fees)
- International travel expenses (e.g. visa costs, required health insurance)
- Stipend for project work outside of travel period (include non-travel project hours in budget document AND timeline; stipend will be prorated accordingly)
Research Supply Supplement (Non-Travel Projects)
A limited number of award supplements will be available to cover consumable research supplies (e.g., chemical reagents, participant incentives, art supplies) for projects that do not involve travel. Students may request up to $500 and must submit an itemized (e.g., specific items and quantity) budget of the resources needed to execute the project. A justification must accompany each proposed cost that discusses how the items/resources are essential to the methodology and goals of the work. Describe how each cost was estimated, addressing these additional considerations when applicable:
- Any other funding, such as mentor matches, fellowships, etc.
- How items/resources are otherwise unavailable through WashU (mentor, department, library, etc.) or other avenues at no/lower cost (e.g. renting equipment)
- For projects involving compensation of research subjects, a rationale for the number of paid subjects is required
Overall, you must convey that the proposed costs are reasonable and necessary to carry out the project. Please note that generally we cannot fund the costs of non-consumable goods (i.e., reusable equipment); however, we will consider such items under $100 with strong justification. Insufficient budget justification will decrease the probability of receiving this supplemental funding significantly.