SPUR to provide funding

Undergraduate students at The University of Southern Mississippi who are writing theses or conducting original research will now be able to receive funding to continue their projects.

The Center for Undergraduate Research is sponsoring the Eagle Scholars Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR). The program seeks to provide funding for an independent research program conducted by an undergraduate student in conjunction with a faculty sponsor.

“We’re asking students to submit an original idea [or] proposal with a mentor and we will select the winners,” said Joann Johnson, administrative support for CUR. “…In January, they will get a monetary award that can be used for travel to collect data, if they need a piece of equipment, if they need books [or] if they’re writing a paper.”

University Provost Denis Wiesenburg started the center in Oct. 2011.

“Undergraduate research is important in getting our students engaged and getting them off to a good start,” Wiesenburg said.

“It makes a difference for the students, it makes a difference for the undergraduate curriculum, it makes a difference for the academic field in which the students are in,” he said. “Also for the profession and our nation as a whole.”

According to Marie Danforth, chair for the CUR steering committee, Southern Miss and Jackson State University are the only Mississippi universities with a Center for Undergraduate Research.

“…Our particular mission is to promote and support independent and scholarly and creative activity by undergraduates that is conducted in collaboration with a faculty mentor,” Danforth said. “The benefits of this sort of endeavor are myriad, both to the student and the university community at large.”

The Eagle SPUR program application is open to all full-time undergraduate students in good standing with the university. In order to submit a proposal, each applicant is required to have a faculty sponsor.

“[The sponsors] recruit students to work with them on a project or the students recruit the sponsor,” Johnson said.

Students can receive up to $1,000 in funding and mentors can receive up to $1,500. Faculty mentors are only eligible for the stipend if they are tenure-track and affiliated with CUR.

“It’s research and scholarly and creative projects so it is not just open up to the sciences,” Johnson said. “It’s not just Honors College students, it’s all students.”

Students must submit their proposal along with a detailed financial budget. The proposal must include a signed statement of support from their faculty advisor.

A three-member faculty panel will review the applications and the Eagle Scholars Proposal Review Committee will make final funding decisions. According to Johnson, the committee doesn’t currently include students, but could in future semesters.

“There is talk that we are going to have someone from the [SGA],” Johnson said. “I think we’re trying to get a coast SGA member and a Hattiesburg rep.”

The Eagle SPUR program application is available at the CUR website, www.usm.edu/research/center-undergraduate-research. Deadline for submissions is Nov. 4 and winners will be notified by Dec. 5.

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