Students interested in undergraduate research are now eligible for more research grants.
“With the upcoming Pursuit grant we’re funding faculty and students, and we’re putting a little seed money for expenses and supplies,” said Dr. Phyllis Bolin, director of Pursuit Quality Enhancement Plan.
Applications for the new Pursuit Grants along with five other grants available to undergraduate students and faculty are currently going through committees that will decide how grant resources will be allocated.
“With all six of them, we a have a great variety and diversity,” Bolin said.
A committee will meet Monday to rank and score the applications for the Pursuit grant. Twenty-nine groups have applied for grants, but since groups may apply for multiple grants, fifty-three applications have been received.
“Our plan is to get all the applications out to the proper committees and then come together later this month and see if we are equitably distributing funds so that we can send our results on to the research counsel for the final recommendations,” Bolin said.
The six grants available are Aging Studies Grants, awarded to students and faculty through the Pruett Gerontology Center, Cullen Grants, which provide summer support for faculty to pursue scholarly research or creative activity, Math-Science Grants for faculty in Mathematics and Physical Sciences, Mobile Learning Fellows Grants for faculty to research Mobile Learning integration, Pursuit Grants for students and faculty in all fields, and Undergraduate Research Summer Student Stipend Grants for faculty and students involved in faculty-mentored summer research projects.
“It’s a whole new process for us this year,” Bolin said. “Hopefully throughout the year we can fine tune the pieces that we aren’t sure about.”
In the past, grants could only fund faculty, some travel and a few of the expenses.Â Now instead of faculty having to find funding for students elsewhere, the Pursuit grants enable funding for undergraduate student research.
“We want to fund faculty, but we feel like the big thing we want to do is increase student understanding of research, and we think the best way to do that is to have faculty and students working together in this mentoring relationship,” Bolin said.
That’s the goal of Pursuit to fund research to provide that vehicle where the faculty and students can work together.
In order for ACU to receive accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the university had to implement a Quality Enhancement Plan. This led to the development of Pursuit. Implemented last semester, the program aims to provide more opportunities for more students to participate in research and creative expression, Bolin said.
Pursuit is divided into three components: Explore, Create, and Express.
The Explore component is the base encourages students to learn research methods and includes all ACU students during their freshman and sophomore years.Â The Create component is divided between creating a research project in a specific course required by all students, and conducting faculty-guided research. It is available to select students. The top of the pyramid, Express, is for top students who have completed research or produced work and are willing to publicly share their findings at conferences, in publications or in a public campus setting.
“It was a really hard task, but we had great people that gave us information, and there was a great committee that worked to come up with the ideas and the plan” Bolin said.
The program also works to break down people’s definitive barriers to research. The council on undergraduate research redefined assumed ideas of what research is to include both scholarly and creative research, Bolin said.
“The first thing you think about when you think of research is the typical,” Bolin said. “We’re trying to encompass everyone on campus so that art and design, Bible, music, theater and other creative fields have the access they need to participate in this research,” Bolin said.
The university will be implementing the Pursuit program plan over the next five years as faculty evaluates its performance.