Research Funding

Swanson-Holcomb Undergraduate Research
(Formerly Sigma Xi Undergraduate Research)

Gustavus administers the Holcomb and Swanson funds. These funds enable an undergraduate research grant program. Students submit a brief research proposal which is reviewed by a faculty panel. Awards are made twice a year and typically range from $300 to $500 for equipment or supplies.

Undergraduate Research Grant Opportunities

Eligibility: Any undergraduate majoring in one of the natural sciences, mathematics, or psychology.

Deadline: Friday, March 8, 2019

 Obligations: An oral presentation or a poster of the research accomplished must be given at the spring undergraduate research symposium held on the Gustavus campus.

 Grant Size: While the committee will entertain any justified request, the usual maximum is $500.00. These funds are expected to be used for purchasing supplies that are not routinely available in the department.

To Apply:

You (or a research group of students) will prepare a clearly-written document of two to three pages containing:

  • 4-5 sentence summary of the proposed project written for a lay audience
  • Description of the background (with references)
  • Methods and materials used
  • Timeline showing anticipated research progress
  • Detailed budget, including why each item requested is essential for the research project.

Budget items that are not acceptable include stipends, mileage and poster printing. The budget will appear on a separate page. Projects using human or vertebrate animal participants must also provide proof of IRB or IACUC approval before Sigma Xi funds can be used. You will do the actual writing of the proposal but it is quite acceptable for you to seek advice from your faculty mentor in the early drafts and in the final revision.

 The online submission form located at will prompt you for the proposal title, the student(s) applying, and the faculty mentor. The proposal should be a single PDF document. In the main body of the proposal, explain the proposed work and place it into the context of what is presently known. Explain what experiments you plan to do and their anticipated outcomes. Do not assume that the evaluators are familiar with your research area. The committee will give priority to those proposals that state a clear research goal that attempts to answer a question. Proposals seeking funds for repeating the work of others will be funded only if the work is appropriate to longer range research projects. Any proposal that does not follow these guidelines will be returned without review.

Support your grant request with a detailed budget. The budget page will contain a carefully prepared itemization of the costs you believe will be encountered including shipping costs. Justification for each item in the budget is required. Some freedom exists to change budget lines later but you should, in this proposal, defend the use of the materials. Equipment purchases must have a separate justification. Stipends are not allowed. Only in rare instances will funding be approved for paying subjects who participate in a research project.

Submit all proposals via the online submission form located at Incomplete proposals (missing one of the five sections listed above) will not be considered. Paper copies will not be accepted. The committee will respond as quickly as possible, but no later than two weeks after your submission. Please note that some faculty have some independent study funds available to them so it may not be necessary to wait for a response from the committee in order to begin the research project. Occasionally, a proposal will need to be revised and submitted for a second review.

Models of successfully-funded proposals are provided at