Dr. Elaine Drew (standing) Kevin Huo, Fiona Fadum and Jason Kells (L-R)
Faculty, research staff, staff, and graduate students from all UAF-affiliated campuses are invited to apply for an URSA Mentor Award of up to $6,000. This award is an opportunity for mentors to receive funding to engage undergraduate students on their current research and creative projects. Awarded proposals will clearly describe a project with a distinguished mentoring plan for undergraduate students involved.
- The funding limit for this RFP is $6,000
- Applicants are required to identify at least one eligible undergraduate student upon awarding.
- Funds may be used towards an undergraduate student fellowship, undergraduate student tuition (up to 4 credits for a course related to the project), travel to a fieldwork location, supplies, or services.
Ben Barst, 2022 Mentor Awardee
Institute of Northern Engineering/ Water and Environmental Research Center
Dr. Barst worked with three undergraduate students to develop a field-deployable Pacific salmon embryo monitoring system, that records water temperature and takes and stores pictures of developing Pacific salmon embryos over the course of many months. The incubation box is currently being tested in the lab before being tested in the field under much harsher environmental conditions. The group is now working together to publish the description of this device so that other researchers may use it to help monitor early life stage development of Pacific salmon in a variety of contexts.
"I would recommend mentoring undergraduates. I think undergraduates have a lot to offer towards research at UAF. They are excited to transition from coursework and foundational knowledge to doing research. Tapping into that excitement is a great way to move a project forward, all while creating a positive experience for an early career researcher."
Courtney Skaggs, 2022 Mentor Awardee
Department of English
Under this proposal, Courtney established a mentorship program between undergraduate and graduate students within the Department of English. Through participation in this new mentorship program, undergraduates interested in pursuing a career in creative writing or literary publishing were invited to shadow the Editor-in-Chief of Permafrost, received guidance on graduate school applications and job searches, and attended the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference.
Derek Sikes, 2022 Mentor Awardee
University of Alaska Museum of the North
Alaska is a high priority region for bioinventory because of its rapidly changing climate and unique biogeographic past. During the most recent glacial maximum much of Alaska remained an ice-free glacial refugium. This likely explains the hundreds of endemic arthropod species in Alaska (species known only from Alaska). Under this proposal, 3 students prepared a 96-well plate to ship tissues to the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding. Specimens were prepared and archived following UA Museum Insect Collection protocols and the resulting DNA sequences were analyzed to test the prediction that St. Paul will have a high proportion of unique DNA barcodes.
"The URSA mentor award experience was very helpful in connecting me to some bright undergrads to help accomplish some exciting research... I would definitely recommend URSA mentor awards to my peers for this reason. The students all learned new skills and I expect they are better equipped for their future career paths."
- Faculty, post-doctoral researchers, graduate students, and staff from any UAF-affiliated campus may apply and serve as URSA mentors. Regardless of applicant status, the project must support undergraduate learning.
- UAF Campuses Include: Bristol Bay, Chukchi, CTC, Troth Yeddha’, Interior Alaska, Kuskokwim, Northwest
- Applicants may only receive an URSA Mentor Award two out of every three years. This policy allows for a greater number of students to receive awards with limited URSA funds.
- Applicants may only submit one proposal for each request for proposal (RFP).
Undergraduate Student Eligibility:
- Must be a Degree-seeking undergraduate student
Students of any year of study, from any UAF-affiliated campus, working toward an Occupational Endorsement, Certificate, Associate's Degree or Bachelor's Degree in any discipline are eligible to participate in Mentor Award projects. Middle College students, graduated undergraduate students and graduate students are not eligible undergraduate students.
Students must be enrolled in at least 3 credits at any UAF-affiliated campus for the funded semester.
- GPA of 2.3 or higher
Students with a GPA lower than 2.3 are not eligible.
- Students that have received URSA Student Project Award funding in the same academic year are not eligible for Mentor Award funding.
- Students that have received full funding from another UAF program for the same project are not eligible for additional funding from URSA (for example BLaST, INBRE, EPSCOR, Alaska Space Grant Program, amongst others) .
- Mentor applicants must have at least one eligible undergraduate project participant identified prior to awarding.
- Awarded funds must be spent by June 15th of the awarded fiscal year.
- Awardees (NOT the students) must complete a Reflection Form by the end of the award period.
- Final products to be submitted with the reflection form include:
- A poster representing your project (completed by the students involved)
- A 2-3 min recording of your poster presentation (completed by the students involved)
- 2-3 high resolution pictures (one of which features the mentor working with undergraduate students)
- Completion of an approved URSA-outreach activity (**The awardee's outreach choice must be discussed with and confirmed by the URSA Coordinator
prior to completion.) :
- Create an URSA Outreach Video for YouTube (2-3 minutes).
- Create a Poster Presentation Video for YouTube (2-3 minutes).
- Complete a mid-award blog post/ student spotlight for the URSA website (Q & A format).
- Provide 2 mid-award photos and updates for URSA's Social Media pages (Facebook & Instagram).
- Attend an URSA Event as a Student Ambassador (Event Example: URSA RFP Open House, URSA Seminars, UAF Tabling Event, etc.).
- Host an event related to your project (i.e. public presentation, art exhibition, public performance, workshop, tour of project site for prospective students, etc.)
- Students involved in the Mentor Award project must present their results at URSA's Research & Creative Activity Day in April of that academic year.
Fellowship payments may be used to pay the awarded student a stipend.
Students must be degree-seeking and registered for per the award eligibility requirements.
Fellowships are paid by UA direct deposit. The fellowship is taxable and students will be responsible for payment of any taxes owed.
For those currently holding campus employment: In order to receive a fellowship, campus employment tasks and URSA Project tasks must not overlap. Fellowship eligibility will be determined by a final HR review of the student employment and URSA Project descriptions. If you have concerns, please contact the URSA Office.
To support the undergraduate research project or creative activities. Funded supplies will remain property of the awardee's UAF Department. For this reason, personal supplies (i.e. personal technology, clothes, etc.) are considered ineligible expenses and their inclusion may impact an application’s eligibility for review. Supplies are considered consumable within the award period; therefore, equipment and hardware are ineligible expenses for this award (please see our ITE Awards for funding for these types of expenses).
- UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT TRAVEL
To exclusively support undergraduate student travel needs associated with the funded research or creative scholarship project.
*Travel to attend a conference is NOT eligible for funding through a Mentor Award. Students wishing to PRESENT, COMPETE, PERFORM at an event must submit a Travel Award application.*
- REGISTRATION FEES
For undergraduate student(s) to attend a virtual conference/workshop or other professional meeting.
For any given round of URSA funding, 25–70 proposals are submitted.
With limited funding we award between 8 and 12 proposals in each call. The competition is high.
- When an application period ends, proposals are distributed anonymously and randomly
to four members of the URSA Faculty Review Board. These faculty members come from
all disciplines in the arts/humanities/social sciences and natural/life and engineering
sciences. One of the reasons that we request that students write their proposal for
a broad audience is because there is a high probability that several of their reviewers
will not be in a similar discipline as the proposal. Please see the Scoring Criteria
section for more information regarding URSA’s review processes.
- The reviewers evaluate and score the proposals and provide comments using an established
- URSA funds submitted proposals in ranked order until the allotted amount of funding is distributed.
Evaluations are made by a minimum of four faculty members on the URSA Faculty Review Board using the scoring criteria detailed below.
Each of the following are evaluated on a scale from 1 (high/exemplary) to 5 (low/insufficient):
- Is the purpose of the proposed expenditure...
- To support/create a multi-student, repeating, research opportunity for undergraduates
- To support/create a one-time multiple student research opportunity for undergraduates
- To support one student, one time
- Not clearly expressed
- The explanation of the significance of the proposed project
- The potential for the proposed project to make a scholarly contribution to an academic discipline
- The potential for the proposed project to effect (bring about) an improvement in higher education at UAF and beyond
- The written quality (mechanics and writing) of the proposal
- The applicant articulates clear goals and/or expected student learning outcomes of the project.
- The applicant, through articulate writing and inclusion of detail, makes a compelling case for funding the project.
- The applicant articulates a clear mentoring plan.
- The applicant proposes an appropriate budget for the proposed project.
Get a head start on your project proposal today! Click here to download the Request for Proposal (RFP) questions for the current award cycle.