April 18, 2011

New grants for KSAS undergrads

Program will fund up to 25 students annually

Already permeated with a culture of exploration, Johns Hopkins has just added to its portfolio of research opportunities for undergraduates.

The Krieger School of Arts and Sciences recently announced a new grant program for its students to support either their senior thesis research or their work as a research assistant for a faculty member.

The Dean’s Undergraduate Research Awards program, which will launch in the fall, will allow students to compete for grants in the range of $500 to $3,000. The program will fund up to 25 students annually for at least the next two years.

Steven David, vice dean for undergraduate education, will oversee the program, which was made possible through a generous gift from two university alumni.

The new offering builds upon the tradition created by the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Awards and Woodrow Wilson Fellowships, which are open to all Johns Hopkins undergraduates. Each program annually supports dozens of students conducting original research.

In announcing the program, Katherine Newman, the James B. Knapp Dean of the Krieger School, said that independent research could be the first step on the long road to a career as a professional scholar, or simply a natural extension of the curiosity that brings students to a demanding university like Johns Hopkins.

“With this program, we want to encourage students to pursue original research and advance knowledge for the world,” she said. “We also hope this experience helps a student develop a close and mature bond with a faculty member as he or she develops their own research or assists a faculty-led project from beginning to end. We feel this faculty adviser role is integral to the program.”

Newman said that she hopes to help usher in the day when all Krieger School undergraduates can stake a claim to original ideas brought to fruition.

“The experience of presenting original ideas to an audience—in forms ranging from essays, to films, to academic articles or poster sessions—builds skills that matter for virtually all professional endeavors,” Newman said.

While the program will be generally
known as the Dean’s Undergraduate Research Awards, Newman said the hope is that departments will name their awards after retired colleagues or prominent scholars.

David said that the program could become a popular choice for seniors, as virtually every department requires some version of a senior thesis or capstone project for honors recipients. In a recent sampling of projects, students studied the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, urban planning in modern-day Shanghai and soil cropping in agro-ecological zones.

Students receiving grant money will use it for travel, equipment, data collection and other purposes, David said.

He said that students will be judged on the feasibility of their project and its creativity and worthwhileness in advancing knowledge.

A program website will be launched sometime this summer, and applications will be due in early fall. David said that for the program’s second year, he anticipates spring and fall deadline periods.

For more information on the program, contact David at sdavid@jhu.edu.