• Larry Ligo Art Class

    Prof. Larry Ligo's "Earth Art" course provides students with an opportunity for firsthand experience with garden design.

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  • Davidson College Ecological Preserve

    Many professors take advantage of the Davidson College Ecological Preserve, located behind the campus, to conduct research.

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  • Psychology Department Neuroscience Lab

    Research is essential for hands-on learning, and undergraduate research experiences are now required for admission to many graduate and professional schools.

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Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Opportunities

Davidson has many grants and funding opportunities available for students to apply and complete faculty-guided or independent research.

Davidson Research Initiative

The grant-funded Davidson Research Initiative (DRI) allows first-year, sophomore and junior students to design a research topic, engage with a faculty mentor for guidance and collaboration, and present and publish their findings. During the summer 2014, 33 students conducted research through Davidson Research Initiative grants. Students have explored the earliest memory age, the effect of electronic cigarettes on lung cells, ingredient networks to create recipes, and honor killings in 21st Century Jordan.
Deadline: Jan. 23, 2015
Review committee:
Student Study & Research
Contact: Verna Case
Learn more about DRI.

Research In Science Experience (RISE)

Research in Science Experience (RISE) is a program for rising sophomores at Davidson who are interested in careers in science or medicine. RISE is designed for students from groups historically underrepresented in science, including minority, first-generation, and low-wealth students. All students may apply. RISE is a four-week, intensive summer research internship program in the biomedical sciences intended to introduce students to undergraduate research. One of the program's goals is to prepare students for more extensive academic-year and summer research experiences they may seek later. Students receive a scholarship and on-campus housing allowance for successful participation in the program. RISE is funded by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and Davidson College.

Eight students spend four weeks on campus in June. Morning classes focus on research skills, including experimental design and data analysis, library and internet research, and developing skills in written and oral presentations. During the afternoons students engage in a collaborative research project. Results of the research are presented at the Davidson College Summer Research Symposium held in September. Participants receive a $2,500 stipend, plus room and board.
Deadline: Feb. 20, 2015
Contact: Mark Barsoum

The George L. Abernethy Endowment

The George L. Abernethy Endowment supports independent student research in the humanities or social sciences, either in the United States or abroad and cross-cultural study opportunities for students during the academic year or the summer. Twenty-two Abernethy awards in 2013-14 took students to Guatemala to study chronic child malnutrition, The Pacific Crest Trail in California to study hiker's attachment to the trail, and to Wyoming to study horse learning performance. In addition, students engaged in collaborative work with Davidson faculty on how aging affects attention, how health is effected by active transportation, and how peers' behavior influences academic and social outcomes for Davidson College undergraduates.

Grant awards average about $2,000. This year faculty mentors will be required to submit a more extensive letter of recommendation and support. The letter should indicate that the faculty member has thoroughly reviewed the student's proposal and agrees to serve as a mentor for the project. The mentoring relationship must be defined. Faculty will receive a $500 stipend for serving as project mentor.
Deadlines: Oct. 24, 2014; Feb. 20, 2015
Review committee: Student Study & Research
Contact: Verna Case
Download and complete the grant application (login required).
Review these application guidelines (DOC).

The Kemp Scholars Program

The Kemp Scholars Program supports independent study, travel and research, typically during the summer. Annually, five scholars, supported by faculty mentors, work independently on a research project of their own design, which can be completed on campus or require travel abroad. In addition, the group of scholars participates with the faculty in an interdisciplinary (non-credit) seminar that links their independent research projects. Kemp projects have included studies of urban revitalization in Detroit, storytelling festivals in England, tree cores from Idaho to inform paleoclimate records, solar electrification of rural Nicaragua, health needs of Latinas in Washington, D.C., and Taiwanese students attending university in mainland China.

Scholars, with faculty supervisors, work independently on a research project of their own design. In addition, they participate with the faculty in an interdisciplinary (non-credit) seminar, which links their independent research projects. In April, successful applicants and their Kemp advisors will meet several times as a group and each Kemp scholar will present the research proposal, outline summer plans, and lead a discussion to refine and inform the proposed work. Scholars are expected to use the summer months to travel and conduct the bulk of their research. During the fall semester, the group will reconvene for another set of presentations in which the students present the results of their research. The program provides $2,000 in reimbursable expenses to support independent study, travel, and research, plus an award of $1,000. Faculty mentors also receive an award.
Deadline: Feb. 20, 2015
Review Committee: Kemp Scholars Review Group
Contact: Mark Foley
Download and complete the grant application (login required).
Review these application guidelines (DOC).

Dean Rusk International Studies Program

The Dean Rusk International Studies Program provides several grant-funded opportunities to conduct research abroad in geographic locations of the student's choosing or to specific regions of the world such as Kenya and Peru. The Dean Rusk International Studies Program funds student study, research, service, and experiential learning abroad.

Grants ranging from $100 - $5,000 are awarded two times each year.

  1. Fall cycle awards will be limited to the following:
    • Seniors who have never been abroad during their Davidson careers
    • Seniors who need to travel abroad for research related to a thesis or capstone project;
    • Students participating in some Davidson summer study abroad programs (talk with your program director or with the Dean Rusk Program Fellow to find out if you should apply in the fall or the spring).
  2. Spring cycle awards are made for summer study, research, service, and experiential learning. Proposals are considered from all students (except seniors). The committee prefers individual projects that involve extended periods of time abroad and that reflect a clear connection to the student's academic development. In addition to its general grants funds, the Dean Rusk program has designated funds for projects related to comparative religion, the Middle East, East Asia, Latin America, and the arts. For more information, contact the Dean Rusk Program Fellow.

Deadlines: Oct. 24, 2014; Feb. 20, 2015
Review Committee: International Education Committee
Contact: Chris Alexander
Learn more about Dean Rusk grants.

Vann Fellows in Biomedical Research

The Vann Fellows in Biomedical Research funds support two ten-week, summer research internships at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., during the summer of 2015. With the Fellowship award of $5,000, students do research under the guidance of mentors in the Mayo Clinic's Program in Professionalism and Ethics.
Deadline: September 9, 2014
Contact: Dave Perry

Davidson Research Network Internships

The primary goal of the Davidson Research Network (DRN) is to provide a summer research experience in an active biomedical laboratory for Davidson students who plan to pursue a career in the health sciences. Each DRN experience is conducted at a health science research institution under the mentorship of a top flight research scientist. Many of the mentors are Davidson graduates who have assumed leadership roles in health science education across the US. A particular aspect of the DRN is the ability to pick a research experience at a location where the Davidson student may be interested in applying to graduate school. This allows the student to evaluate the institution and develop contacts for future recommendations should they apply to that school. DRN sites are available across the country and include New York City, Washington D.C., Houston, Texas, San Antonio, Texas, and Davis, Calif. Competitive stipends are available to support this training.

The Davidson Research Network (DRN) was founded by Dr. Spencer Redding '72. Dr. Redding is Professor and Chair of the Department of Comprehensive Dentistry at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Dr. Redding has gathered a group of Davidson alumni and others who are biomedical research scientists at a number of research institutions. Typically, eight-week research internships are offered at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, and UT Health Science Center. Some $3,000 David Grant DRN Fellowships will be available each year.
Deadline: Jan. 23, 2015
Contact: Verna Case

Research Positions Funded by Faculty Study and Research

Davidson faculty can apply for Faculty Study and Research grants to support a summer research fellow or a summer research assistant. These are typically ten-week research experiences, but length does vary depending on the project. Faculty should specify a student’s name when applying for these grants.
Deadline: Jan. 30, 2015
Contact: Individual faculty members

EXPLR Credit for Unpaid Internships Requiring Credit

EXPLR credit can only be sought by students doing unpaid internships that require academic credit as a condition of participating in the internship. The credit will be assigned as XPL 099 and, while it will appear on the student’s transcript, it does not count as one of the 32 courses required for graduation. Grading is Pass/Fail. All course requirements must be met to pass the course.
Contact: Leslie Marsicano
Learn more about EXPLR.

Center for Civic Engagement Grant Opportunities

The Center for Civic Engagement has a number of opportunities for students during the summer. These opportunities include:

  • Community Engagement Fellows
  • Freedom Schools
  • Service Odyssey
  • Center for Civic Engagement Summer Interns
  • Summer Community Engagement Fellows
  • Summer Cook Family Fellows

Some of the above are paid opportunities and the Center also offers grants and other funding opportunities.
Learn more about Civic Engagement grants.

Other Opportunities On and Off Campus

Off-campus opportunities for summer research positions (particularly in the sciences) can be found at most R1 institutions. Davidson faculty may have contacts or established relationships with these programs and students get more information from them about possible research experience opportunities.

The National Science Foundations funds the Research Experiences for Undergraduates programs across the country. Review lists of NSF-REU sites. These programs are focused on the sciences, social sciences, and research ethics.