College of Basic and Applied Sciences Undergraduate Research Council

Undergraduate Research Awards

New & Improved!

  • Three calls for proposals: Two in Fall semester and one in Spring semester
  • Additional funding provided by STEPMTmeans many more opportunities for student support
  • Fall deadlines...
    • last Wednesday of September
    • last Wednesday of November
  • Spring deadline...
    • last Wednesday in February

Application Forms
Download an application in MS Word format (right click the link and select "Save Target As..." to save the MS Word document to your computer)

Mission and History 
In October of 1993, the Dean of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences formed the Undergraduate Research Council (URC) with the charge of developing a college level undergraduate research program at MTSU. The mission of the URC is to promote, facilitate, and showcase undergraduate research in the sciences at MTSU. The URC administers an annual competitive research grant program in which successful student applicants receive a stipend to help support them while they are conducting their research. 

Beginning in 2004 part of the funding for the research awards was derived from a National Science Foundation grant called STEPMT. The aim of the STEPMT grant was to improve the retention of science students through to graduation using undergraduate research as a defining theme. You can learn more about the specific aims and intentions of this grant at the STEPMT web page. The most significant change due to the grant involvement is the dramatic increase in opportunities for undergraduate research funding. 

Research Grants
Three times per academic year (twice in fall and once in spring) the URC solicits proposals for the competitive research grant program. The application deadlines are the last Wednesday in the months of September, November, and February. As described in detail below, there are two grant programs: Undergraduate Research Assistantships for students just beginning in research and Undergraduate Research Awards for students at a more advanced level. Within three weeks of the application deadlines the URC committee meets to review the proposals and grant awards to deserving students. The student applicants will be notified of the committee's decision via email. The acceptance paperwork will be sent through campus mail to the faculty mentor. Students who are notified that they have received an award or an assistantship should see their faculty mentor soon afterwards.

Research Program Descriptions: 
There are two distinct research grant programs administered through the Undergraduate Research Council. It is important that students and their faculty mentors interested in applying for a grant carefully read the descriptions below to decide the most appropriate program for their level of experience. Note that there are separate application forms for the two programs; be sure to use the appropriate form.

The Undergraduate Research Assistantship program is designed to introduce students to research by giving them the opportunity to shadow a faculty member or an upper level student involved in a research project. The intent is that the Assistants will learn enough of the background and process of their research areas so that they will be ready to continue with a more challenging project. It is hoped that the initial research experience at the Assistant level will result in research proposal applications at the College or University level. The Assistantship application form has a section that asks the student to write a one-page description of the research project with which he/she will be assisting. This written description is one of the main criteria for judging the strength of the proposal. The student should prepare this section after close consultation with the faculty sponsor. The Assistantship award consists of a stipend of $500. Upon completion of the project the student is expected to submit a short written report.

The Undergraduate Research Award program is intended for students who have enough research experience to propose and carry out a research project with a fair degree of independence. The Research Award Application asks for a brief description and justification of the proposed research project. This description is the single most important component for judging the application and should be carefully written. Relevant references to the scientific or technical literature must be included as part of the justification. In the description, outline the specific goals of the project as well as the procedure you plan to use in accomplishing these goals. Be aware that not all members of the Undergraduate Research Committee are experts in your field, thus, your description should be understandable to the non-expert reader. As with the Research Assistantship the project description should be prepared and written by the student. The Undergraduate Research Award carries a student stipend of $1000, supply funds up to a maximum of $300, and $500 extra compensation for the faculty mentor.

The number of awards and the amount of each award is determined from a combination of the number of deserving proposals and the amount of money available. The awards are disbursed in two payments. The timing of the payments is determined from the start and end times of the research project as described in the proposal. The first disbursement is made at the start of the project. The second and final payment is made at the end of the project, upon receipt of a written report and completion of a survey document to the council chair.

The awards are granted to the student with the following conditions:

  • The research effort described in the proposal will be pursued diligently and the work must be completed within one calendar year of the date of the original award,
  • The results of the research project for both Awards and Assistantships will be presented in a written final report to the Undergraduate Research Council. Further, Undergraduate Research Award recipients will present their results as a poster at the undergraduate day of the University's Scholars Week; (grantees who are enrolled at MTSU at the time of the poster session are expected to be present. Grantees who have graduated are encouraged to attend, but may make other arrangements to have their poster displayed if they are unable to do so.)
  • All University policies relating to research ethics, human subjects and animal treatment will be followed,
  • Any proceeds derived from commercial use of inventions, discoveries, or copyrightable material will be shared equitably with Middle Tennessee State University and the Undergraduate Research Council.

Applications can be downloaded using the links above or obtained from the URC member from your department:

Department URC Member Email
Biology Bruce Cahoon
Chemistry Norma Dunlap
Computer Science Zhijiang Dong
Eng.Tech. and Ind. Studies Heather Brown
Geosciences Mark Abolins
Mathematical Sciences Jan Zijlstra
Physics and Astronomy Bill Robertson - Chair

Successful Sample Proposals

Abstracts presented in past years at the Undergraduate Research Symposium are posted in Scientia.