Funding Available for Life-Changing Experiences: Undergraduate Research

“Studies show that undergraduate research is one of the most meaningful and high-impact experiences a student can have, profoundly shaping their learning, their work habits and sometimes even their lives.”

The person who said this knows what she’s talking about. Dr. Larissa Smith is Longwood’s provost and vice president for academic affairs as well as a longtime history professor.

But Longwood does more than just talk about the transformative power of undergraduate research—we put some serious cash behind it. And your student could be on the receiving end of those funds—and the life-changing experiences they support.

There are two opportunities your student can look into:
—PRISM, Longwood’s summer research program
—Fall and spring disbursement of research funds based on proposals submitted by students

For this fall, funding will be distributed in two rounds. The deadline to apply for the first round of funding is 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4. Applications for the second round of funding are due at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1. Projects from all disciplines are eligible for funding consideration—everything from theatre and art to business and the sciences. Students can work individually, or they can collaborate in groups of two or three.

One full day each semester is devoted to student research. This past spring, students made 374 poster presentations and 85 oral presentations representing more than 25 academic disciplines.

Awards for successful proposals can be as much as $500 per student.

That “pot of gold” lies at the end of an application process that includes detailing a well-thought-out project and getting a recommendation from a faculty member. It also includes submitting a project budget of eligible expenses (this is a learning experience in and of itself) that can include things such as lab equipment, art supplies, software and travel.

So, if your student is interested, tell them to get going on that application. It’s available at

Also coming up in early November (exact date TBA) is the deadline to submit an application for Longwood’s eight-week summer research program, PRISM, which stands for Perspectives on Research In Science and Mathematics. With a focus on intense research and tangible results, PRISM puts students at the center of the research process, working alongside a faculty member.

Sarah Elsakr’s PRISM research project this past summer could have been ripped from an episode of the forensic crime drama television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Elsakr (foreground), a rising senior, worked with Dr. Sarah Porter, associate professor of analytical chemistry, testing burned carpet samples to determine which petroleum product was used as the ignitor. The goal was to research alternative testing methods for use in arson investigations, as well as other areas of forensic and environmental chemistry. PRISM provides a $3,500 stipend plus free room and board for students selected to participate.

Students who are chosen to participate receive a $3,500 stipend plus free room and board. Funding is also provided for equipment, supplies and travel. Your student can keep an eye out for the summer 2020 application on the Office of Student Research website:

So many Longwood students have said that doing research was a defining experience that set them on a life/career path they wouldn’t otherwise have known existed. Maybe your student would be just as profoundly affected.

—Sabrina Brown