It is nearing the end of January, which means that almost every Wake Forest student has a tab open on their ThinkPad searching for some variation of “summer internship.” However, an internship or summer job may not be exactly what you want to do. There may be an idea brewing in your head, sparked from one of your classes or some random inspiration in your life, that you cannot stop thinking about. This idea may have incited more questions than answers and require a deep dedication of research and travel. If this sounds like more like you, it may be time to apply for one of Wake Forest’s research grants or fellowships.
Many students across campus are unaware that there is a wealth of funding to support deeper research and investigation across any discipline. A lot of this funding is coordinated by URECA, the Undergraduate Research Creative Activities Center, which is a small organization within Wake Forest dedicated to helping foster relationships with faculty and students through scholarly activities.
There are three main programs supported by URECA: the Wake Forest Research Fellowship or the Wake Forest Arts & Humanities Research Fellowship, the Richter Scholarship and the ACC-IAC Fellowship Program.
Undergraduate research is as omnipresent at Wake Forest as the scraps of toilet paper somehow still hanging onto tree branches on the upper quad. Some students are so passionate about this research that it is a catalyst for their own tangential investigation. For these students, the Wake Forest Research Fellowship can offer a $4,000 stipend to fund a summer on-campus to continue cultivating their findings. Applicants must pair with a faculty member, whether that be their research mentor or any professor at Wake Forest, and submit a brief application outlining the justification of their project, the potential methods involved, an explanation of how it will help their future and a possible budget. If chosen, your project will span at least 10 weeks of the summer and should be your core activity, which means no side job as a lifeguard. Funding can even provide summer housing on campus if requested and up to $500 in supplies. Students across any discipline can apply to this program, which is the main distinction from the Wake Forest Arts & Humanities Research Fellowship.
The Wake Forest Arts & Humanities Research Fellowship is catered towards students whose curiosity stems from Humanities, Literature and fine arts. These fellows will receive a $2,000 stipend to last 5 weeks of their summer on campus. With the mentorship from Wake Forest faculty and at least a 3.0 GPA, these fellowships could be exactly what you are looking for.
“The critical point in these fellowships is the mentorship of a faculty member in a student’s scholarly activity,” said Dr. Wayne Pratt, the director of the URECA Center. “The first step towards getting this fellowship is finding a mentor.”
Although Winston-Salem is full of fascinating projects and research, many students interests may span in a more international direction. Richter Scholarships are the largest single awards offered on campus for independent study, covering up to $6,000 in travel, living expenses and more. Past Richter Scholars have traveled to Nepal to study health care or explored the influence of race on Colombia’s political system. Tori Spong, a senior theatre and sociology major, delved into the relationship between creativity and mental illness in England.
“The Richter is so unique in providing the resources to be able to do research within the world and allow yourself to be immersed in transformative experiences,” said Spong.
Applications are chosen based off of their feasibility and several other criteria, but the committee is mostly looking to see if this project will be a life-changing endeavor for the student.
Each year, the URECA Center receives a chunk of funding from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), which supports both athletics and undergraduate scholarship. This money goes towards the ACC-IAC Fellowship Program in Creativity and Innovation and financially assists undergraduate research, artistic ideas, and creative endeavors. With a much more flexible budget, the ACC-IAC can fund up to $5,000 and is typically used for a student’s capstone, or overarching, project that has spanned their college experience in some way.
Any student with the passion and curiosity to dive deeper into research has the possibility of winning one of these fellowships, and it is important to take advantage of all the opportunities that Wake Forest has to offer.