Undergraduate Research Grants
Any registered undergraduate student of sophomore rank or above who is in good academic standing and majoring in a Quinney College of Natural Resources degree program is eligible to apply for an Undergraduate Research Grant (URG) to support the development and completion of an independent research project. Research proposed and funded must be completed before the student graduates. Students may receive a maximum of $2,500 in QCNR undergraduate research funding (including scholarships and research support) during their undergraduate degree program.
Students are encouraged to use QCNR research funding as a match to obtain funding from other sources (e.g. USU URCO funding). Application for an URG is not required for the URCO match. However, students needing more than the URCO match amount for their projects must still submit a separate URG application. Students who apply for funding for a second research project must have already submitted a final report for the first research project.
What the Grants Will Support
QCNR Undergraduate Research Grants will provide funds for any combination of these categories, with a maximum of $1,500 total for a 15-week project or $2,500 for a project spanning two 15-week periods:
- Research Costs (up to $1,000 per project):
- Materials and supplies
- Costs of sample processing in service labs
- Research-related travel (funding for presenting research is not allowable under this grant, but students are encouraged to apply for a QCNR travel grant for this purpose, by contacting the Dean via email with a request).
- Student scholarship to assist with living expenses while planning and conducting research (up to $1,000 per 15-week period and up to a maximum of $2,000 during their undergraduate degree program).
- A favorable evaluation of a midpoint progress report is required for projects planned to extend beyond 15 weeks).
- Scholarships must be clearly justified in the Budget Justification section of the proposal. Scholarships are intended to alleviate time constraints created by working other jobs so that the student can focus his/her time on the proposed research.
Projects are generally expected to last a single semester, or 15 weeks. If a project is planned to last more than 15 weeks, a progress report is due midway through the project, and that date must be specified in the proposal. Continued funding for projects planned for > 15 weeks is contingent on favorable review of the midpoint progress report (see reporting requirements below).
Regardless of the proposed project length, all activities outlined in the proposal, including submission of the final report must be completed within no more than 1 year of the award date or before graduation, whichever comes first.
Stand-alone proposals may be submitted at any time. URCO-match proposals must be submitted a minimum of 2 weeks prior to URCO deadline. Expect the committee to require multiple revisions of your proposal before an award is made. You will be given 48 hours to submit any required revisions. If you plan to use a QCNR grant as an URCO match, plan ahead. An earlier submission increases chances of an award before the URCO deadline.
Students receiving grants may sign up for an academic credit of Undergraduate Research in one of the QCNR Departments. The student and faculty mentor should agree in writing on specific expectations for the awarding of academic credit and grading before registration for credit is complete.
The application will be uploaded as a single .pdf file. Do not submit a proposal before it has been reviewed and approved by your mentor(s).
A complete application must include:
- A title (maximum 100 characters)
- An abstract (maximum of 250 words)
- Name, A number, major and signature of student
- Proposed project start date and end date
- Identification of name, title, and Department of faculty mentor
Section 1: Project Narrative
The narrative section has an absolute limit of 2 single-spaced pages (excluding Literature Cited). This section must have 1-inch margins on all sides and use a minimum of 11-point font. Include:
- Introduction: This section should provide the rationale or justification for the proposed research, and should include citations to relevant previous work.
- Objectives, Hypothesis or Study Questions: These should follow logically from your Introduction and should lead logically into your Methods. This section should be very succinct (perhaps a single sentence or set of bullets).
- Methods: Describe your methods of data collection (if applicable) and data analysis. The phases described in your Methods section (e.g., additional literature review, further development of research protocols, selection of research sites, sample collections, data analysis, final report writing, etc.) should mirror those in the Time Line.
- Time Line: Specify when you will be conducting various phases of your research. Include an estimate of the average hours per week you expect to commit to each phase. Specify submission dates for the Midpoint Progress Report (if required) and the Final Report (see below).
- Literature Cited: You will need to include citations to support your project narrative. Use a consistent citation style and include a list of cited literature at the end. The format should follow that found in any scientific journal. This section may be on a third page.
Section 2: Budget Justification
Provide a budget detailing the anticipated costs of the research and the amount by category (e.g., travel, supplies, laboratory analyses, etc.). Any item with a value of $50 or more should be individually identified in the budget. A budget template is provided for your convenience, but you may use a different format. Also indicate the anticipated source of funds (e.g., this grant, matching funds from advisor, URCO, etc.). The purpose of this section is to assure the evaluation panel: i) that you have thought through what you need in order to successfully complete this project; ii) that you have a plan for getting the necessary resources; and iii) that the project can be completed with the anticipated support. The budget must cover all project costs, not just those associated with this grant request.
Following the budget sheet, include a Budget Justification section (1 page or less) that clearly justifies each of the line items in your budget, including any scholarship requested. For example, if you include mileage you must estimate the number of miles that will be driven (e.g. 50 miles roundtrip to field site x 4 trips = 200 miles). The purpose of a scholarship is to enable you to forego taking a job unrelated to your project or degree and devote that time to your research. Although a scholarship is not based on an hourly rate its, justification is best accomplished by estimating the number of hours you expect to devote to the various tasks you identify in your narrative.
Section 3: Previous Funding
A description of previous undergraduate research funding which you have been provided at USU: E.g. other QCNR research funds, USU research fellowships, honors research funding, etc., including the amount, a short description of the project funded, and the outcome of the project. This section should be limited to one page or less.
Section 4: Letter of support
Each project must have a faculty mentor, most likely from within the QCNR, although in some cases an advisor outside the College may be most appropriate (e.g. Biology). The faculty mentor must provide a letter which:
- Supports the research described in your application
- Confirms that he/she is willing to be your mentor, will supervise the budget, and will supervise your academic credit (see section above).
- Documents what assistance she/he will provide (e.g., use of laboratory space, matching funds, use of a field vehicle, assistance with data analysis and interpretation, etc.).
The faculty mentor must also work with you to prepare this grant request, providing guidance and feedback on early drafts.
Evaluation of Proposals
Proposals will be evaluated by the QCNR Undergraduate Research Committee, which consists of a faculty representative from each QCNR Department.
Evaluation criteria include:
- The logical development of the proposal:
- How well did you justify and explain your study?
- Are your methods feasible and will they lead to an answer to your proposed questions?
- Evidence of strong support from the faculty advisor/mentor.
- The likelihood that the project will be a significant learning experience for the student.
- The likelihood that the project will be completed by the deadline.
- Adherence to proposal requirements such as page limits, etc.
Preference will be given to:
- Sophomores and juniors, although seniors who show evidence that they can complete the proposed project before graduation will also be considered.
- Students without other research support.
- Students who will be using QCNR as a match for additional funding (e.g. USU URCO funding).
- Projects with modest budget requests (this allows us to maximize the number of students funded). Students requesting the maximum support should have exceptionally strong project proposals.
Award Administration/Reporting Requirements
1. Pre-Project Requirements
- Students who are awarded funding must report to the QCNR Business Service Center to review procedures for expenditures (e.g. P-card authorization, handling receipts, travel authorization).
- Students must submit a photo and project description summary for posting on the QCNR website. The summary must consist of two brief paragraphs, one that provides an overview of the research and one that discusses broader implications. Submit the photo and summary to the Associate Dean (email@example.com).
2. Midpoint Progress Reports
For projects which are planned for more than one semester (or 15 weeks), a midpoint progress report must be submitted at the end of the first academic semester. The date of this progress report will be specified in the project proposal. Continued funding beyond the project midpoint is contingent upon favorable review of the midpoint progress report. The midpoint progress report must be a maximum of 2 pages (single spaced, 11 pt. font minimum, 1” margins) to include:
- A description of the progress to date, a summary of preliminary data, challenges encountered, ways in which the project goals or methodology have changed, and a plan for the remainder of the project.
- An itemized budget report, including the amount spent to date, status of receipts (whether and when turned in to the QCNR Business Service Center), and the amount planned for the remainder of the project.
3. Final Report
For all projects, a final report is required within 1 year of the project funding initiation or by the student’s graduation date, whichever comes first. The report should be reviewed by the faculty mentor prior to submission. The report will require six components:
- A 1 page report describing what was accomplished during the project, how this corresponds to the proposed work, the significance of the results, and recommendations for further study. An electronic copy of a poster or Powerpoint presentation presented at a professional conference, or manuscript for publication, may be submitted in lieu of a final report, depending on the recommendations of the faculty mentor. Posters, oral presentations, and manuscripts are particularly encouraged.
- A figure or some other visual depiction of the research findings.
- A photo from the project (e.g. of the student engaged in the research activities).
- Copies of any products (e.g. PDF file of research poster), including a list of paper and/or poster presentations.
- A single page itemized budget report, including the amount spent on each item, the total expenditures (must be equal to or less than proposed budget), and verification that all receipts have been turned in to the QCNR Business Service Center.
- A short, layman’s-style paragraph describing the project (written for an undergraduate student audience), with a title and relevant photograph, for posting on the QCNR Undergraduate Research website.
All reports should be submitted to the QCNR Associate Dean (firstname.lastname@example.org) in electronic format, and copied to the faculty mentor. Reports will be forwarded to the Undergraduate Research Committee.