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Erickson Discovery Grant Program
Summer 2016

The Rodney A. Erickson Discovery Grant Program, named in honor of Penn State's seventeenth President, supports undergraduate student engagement in original research, scholarship, and creative work under the direct supervision of a faculty member. Approximately 50 Erickson Discovery Grants, each in the amount of $3,500, are available through the Office of Undergraduate Education for summer 2016. Additional grants may be funded through college support.

The Erickson Discovery Grants are directed to student-initiated projects in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts that provide experience in all facets of the research, scholarship, or creative processes. This includes conceptualization of a question or focus, proposal writing, identification and implementation of methods, and communication of results (reporting, exhibition, or performance). Projects should be primarily the student's own work; although the project may be related to the supervising faculty member's research or scholarly interests, it should not simply provide assistance to faculty work.

The grants may be used to cover living expenses and project costs (supplies, materials, books, specialized software, travel for the purpose of data collection, etc.). Note: Funds will be deposited to student accounts and therefore may have an impact on student aid or be applied to outstanding charges.


Penn State undergraduate students from all campuses in all fields of study may apply for a grant. Students are eligible for grants in the summer following their first year through the summer before the year in which they will graduate (limit of one grant per student). Recipients must be enrolled full-time at Penn State for at least one semester following the summer work. Students must have a Penn State faculty supervisor who is available during the summer to consult with the student and evaluate how the project is conducted. Eligible projects include laboratory and field research, scholarly inquiry, and creative work in music, art, theatre, and other fields. Study abroad, travel unrelated to research, and projects not grounded in an academic discipline are not eligible for Discovery Grant funding.

The Erickson Discovery Grants are intended to enable students to immerse themselves in their projects. It is expected that the Discovery Grant project will receive significant student engagement during the summer and will be accorded sufficient hours and effort to produce excellent work. Any summer jobs should be limited to fifteen hours per week.

Grant Requirements

Projects involving human participants, animal subjects, or biohazardous materials require review through the Office for Research Protections and must have the appropriate approval before grant funds are distributed. It is expected that required approvals will be secured by June 1, 2016.

Students whose projects involve international travel are required to obtain short-term international health insurance through the Penn State Student Health Insurance Office and are subject to the University's international travel policy for undergraduate students.

International students must provide required IRS reporting information in order to receive grant funds. Information about this requirement is available from the Student Financial Services Office (

Grant recipients are required to submit a one-page report on their projects by the end of August. Faculty supervisors must provide a one-page evaluation of the student's work including how the grant funds were spent, how much time the student spent on the project and how the student engaged in the discovery process, and the nature of the faculty/student interaction.

Grant recipients are expected to present their work at the annual Undergraduate Exhibition the following spring if they are enrolled at Penn State at that time.

Application Requirements

Note: Applications for summer 2016 will be accepted beginning December 1, 2015. Applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. Friday, February 12, 2016.

Required application materials include:

  1. Student information form (available online December 1).
  2. A two-page summary of the project, written by the student, and including the following:
    • The question or goal to be addressed and its relevance to the discipline or field. Proposals for creative projects should describe the academic nature of the work.
    • The methods or processes that will be used to address the question or goal.
    • Why the project is of interest to the student and his or her preparation to complete it (courses, other experiences, etc.).
    • How the supervision by the faculty member will contribute to the project.

The project summary should be single-sided and may be single-spaced, and include the student's name at the top of each page. Instructions for submitting Discovery Grant applications will be posted soon.

In addition, a one-page recommendation must be submitted by the faculty supervisor to the Office of Undergraduate Education. The recommendation should include:

  1. name of the student
  2. title of the project
  3. an evaluation of the proposal and the student's ability to complete the project

Faculty recommendations may be sent to Mary Beth Crowe, Assistant Vice President and Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education, 417 Old Main, or emailed to

Application Review and Notification

Applications will be reviewed by a faculty committee. Review criteria include:

  1. Scholarly nature – Does the project involve research, scholarship, or creative work? (Educational or personal enrichment activities – e.g. study abroad, travel unrelated to research, projects not grounded in an academic discipline, etc., do not apply.)
  2. Student engagement – Did the student help to frame the question or focus of the project and will the student activities involve the major steps in the research or creative process? (Projects should not merely provide assistance to the faculty supervisor's work.)
  3. Faculty collaboration – Will the faculty supervisor provide a level of supervision that guides the student's work and adds value to the project?
  4. Faculty recommendation – Does the faculty supervisor consider the project worthwhile academically and endorse the student's ability to complete it?

Applicants will be notified in early April regarding funding decisions. Grant funds will be distributed to student accounts at the beginning of the first six-week summer session.

Questions about the Erickson Discovery Grant Program should be directed to Dr. Mary Beth Crowe, Assistant Vice President and Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education (814-863-1864,