Undergraduate research grants offer students salaries, experience

The Undergraduate Research Program integrates SVSU’s teaching and research missions through the creation and facilitation of research partnerships between faculty and students.

Associate professor of communication Jennifer McCullough serves as director of the program, which comprises student travel grants, student-led research grants and faculty-led research grants.

According to McCullough, student travel grants are similar to what used to be offered through the Student Research Creativity Institute. These provide funds for students to present research at academic and professional conferences.

However, the student- and faculty-led research grants are new and allow students involved in the research to receive salaries.

“Students can receive up to $5,000 to work on their specific project with a student-led research grant,” McCullough said. “As part of that, they can pay themselves a salary of up to $1,000 per semester for up to two semesters.”

If students are conducting grant-funded research as part of a senior project, they cannot pay themselves a salary.

Faculty-led grants allow faculty members already conducting research to hire up to three SVSU students as assistants, who can be paid $1,000 for their work each academic semester and $2,500 for their work during combined spring and summer semesters.

“This really can become a summer job for students,” McCullough said. “Instead of working at McDonald’s, they can work and learn how to conduct research at the same time.”

Besides the opportunity for student salaries, these grants also create relationships between students and faculty.

“Students learn how to write their own grants, get hands-on experience and learn what it means to be a scientific researcher,” McCullough said. “It also gets the word out about all the interesting things that SVSU students are doing.”

McCullough said these grants are excellent tools in recruitment and retention strategies. Involved students are also more prepared for graduate or professional positions.

Student travel grants are awarded monthly, whereas student- and faculty-led research grants are awarded twice per year in October and March.

McCullough said she hopes freshman and sophomore students take advantage of the Undergraduate Research Program; faculty members are encouraged to work with underclassmen to help them gain experience.

“We currently have applications from every college. This is for any major at any level,” she said. “I hope every student feels that this is something they can benefit from and really get involved in.”

The program was made possible with a donation from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.

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