Mikayla Consalvo on Saint Rose’s Undergraduate Summer Research Grants: An Opportunity to Explore Your Interests!

The Undergraduate Summer Research Grant program at St. Rose is a familiar friend to English undergraduate Mikayla Consalvo  who received one this past summer. The purpose of these grants is to provide students with on-campus housing and a cash stipend to enable them to remain on campus over the summer in order to carry out an original scholarly project. Mikayla’s project, which she workd on with Dr. Vaneeta Palecanda, entailed analyzing the texts Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, and Madame Bovary.

Regarding how her project and grant interest evolved, Mikayla comments, “Dr. Palecanda and I had talked about reading the classics—and the value of doing so—during the summer of 2010 and she recommended a number of texts, including Anna Karenina. I read the novel that summer and loved it. When I learned of the summer research grants later in the fall semester, I was not sure exactly what the research of an English major would entail and, though interested, didn’t know where to go from there. Fortunately, Dr. Palecanda forwarded some information to me about the grant and asked if I might like to pursue one involving Anna Karenina. After Dr. Palecanda and I brainstormed on possible research options and decided we’d like to seek funding, we began to meet regularly to flesh out the proposal.”

Mikayla’s process of meeting and discussing her ideas with a faculty member
is the encouraged route to go for anyone who is interested in pursuing a Summer Research grant. Additional details about the grants themselves and application processes are as follows: 1) The grants will support research activities carried out by undergraduate students under the supervision of a faculty member, 2) Each grant will carry a student stipend of $1500, 3) Each grant will carry the option of on-campus housing – students do not have to take this option if they so choose, 4) Though projects may extend for a longer amount of time, the period over which on-campus housing will be available and over which student stipends will be paid will be six weeks.

As far as the proposal process, Mikayla has some thoughts on the experience.
She comments, “Crafting the proposal required several meetings and it was
pretty in-depth; at the same time, I think every student who is an English
major (and any undergraduate student) can really benefit from putting the time
and effort into this process. Having a professor to work with who was very
enthusiastic about the project also made it much more fun and interesting.”

Here are the elements that the required proposal for a Summer Research grant entails: 1) A detailed description of the work to be carried out (including a weekly timeline for the summer’s activities), 2) A discussion of how this work fits in to the student’s current area of study and future career plans, 3) A letter of support from the supervising faculty member (a form outlining the requirements for this letter will be available for download from Blackboard), and 4) A statement of whether the housing option is being chosen or not.

Here is some additional information about how Summer Research grants work:

Though a final report will be required upon completion of the summer’s activities, this does not mean that a definite conclusion to the project must be
reached.  It is hoped that these summer projects will be continued in one form or another into the future, possibly resulting in publications or conference presentations.

Grant awardees will receive one-half of their stipend at the beginning of the project and the remainder upon receipt of a satisfactory final report.

Proposals will be due by March 16, 2012 and will be reviewed by a panel consisting of members of the faculty and the deans of the four Schools.

The grading rubric, a list of helpful hints, and the faculty support letter form
will be available for download from Blackboard (organization: Undergraduate Summer Research Grants 2011).

Proposals should be submitted as an email attachment to the office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs:  millerc@strose.edu

Finally, Mikayla (someone who has gotten through the conceptualization, application, and summer project processes unscathed) provides us with some Do / Do Not-advice:

Do: “Find a really supportive and engaging professor to be your supervising faculty member. Aside from finding a match in a professor in terms of subject matter, think about other things in a professor that might make your summer research the most beneficial for you both. If you need structure and would prefer a highly-organized/narrowly-focused project, try to find a professor whose teaching style matches that. If you prefer diving into a text, time period, or genre but would like more space for exploration, think about approaching a professor whose class involved more open-ended assignments.”

Do Not: “Think you’re limited to things you’ve already studied in class. The point of the research grant is to allow you time to explore things you’re interested without the imposed structure of a class. This is meant to be tailored to you.”

Do: “Be organized. The proposal has deadlines and you and your supervising faculty member will both be in the middle of a semester. Begin speaking with a professor you’d like to work with early on and pay attention to the details of the proposal requirements. There will be a lot of proposals coming in, and having a flawless application that goes above and beyond the requests of the dean’s office will stand out. On the other hand, it would be easy to put aside proposals that aren’t carefully thought out or written in favor of others that are.”

Most importantly, Do Not: “Brush off the opportunity because you can’t think of a project right off the bat. The first step can be to brainstorm with a professor who you know well and whose class you did well in and really enjoyed. Don’t hesitate to ask if they have any ideas. Go through some of your old papers from past classes. Did you really love any one paper or idea you worked on? Did a particular genre appeal to you more than any other? Those are all great places to start.”

Thanks to Mikayla for letting us know about her experience, and best of luck to all those who decide to apply for a St. Rose Summer Research grant!

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