Funding Doctoral Work and Study Abroad


How do I find money for graduate research?

How do I fund study abroad?

Dear GrantDoctor,

I am almost finished with my first year of a doctoral program in genetics. Are there any sources of funding available, besides NSF's predoctoral fellowship, for a Caucasian male with no disabilities entering his second year of graduate school working on early eukaryotic evolution? I've tried GrantsNet and some other sites and I'm coming up pretty dry. What can I do?

-- Jeremiah

Dear Jeremiah,

There are other predoctoral fellowships out there, although they may not be as general in scope as the program offered by the National Science Foundation. One such program is administered by the Smithsonian Institution. To be eligible for Smithsonian fellowships, though, your work must be carried out, at least in part, at a Smithsonian facility. The application deadline is 15 January, so you've missed it for this year. But it is not too soon to start organizing your application for next year.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has provided fellowships for research in evolution and molecular systematics, although their programs are generally aimed at postdocs and new faculty. Still, it would be worth checking out their specialized fellowship programs to see if one is suitable. And because the programs change often to meet evolving needs, speaking with a program officer about new fellowships would be an excellent idea; check the Sloan Web site for current information on how to get in touch with grant administrators.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, through its National Center for Environmental Research, offers graduate fellowships for which your evolution studies may just be a good fit. Based on this year's deadlines, it looks as if the next deadline will be 15 August for a 2002 fellowship. It also looks as if the application process is complex, so you would be well advised to review carefully the instructions and visit the help pages, which contain sources of additional information. There is a category called molecular biology and genetics which, from the description of your studies, would seem to fit your needs. But, as always, it is best to speak directly with a program officer using the numbers listed on the Web page before heading down the often arduous path of proposal preparation.

You have probably already thought of this, but it is always a good idea to ask people on your doctoral committee, or in your office of graduate studies, for leads on both local and national funding possibilities. Do remember to be persistent--specialized sources of funding are not always well-advertised. And, it may help to recognize that you are not alone. The GrantDoctor, prompted by similar questions, has published general tips on searching for grants, and I think it would be worth your while to peruse them.

Best of luck,

-- The GrantDoctor

Dear Grant Doctor,

I am going to be studying in Finland next fall and was wondering if you know of any grants for study abroad. Thank you,

-- Shawn

Dear Shawn,

The U.S. Department of State administers the Fulbright Fellowship Program, which I think would be the best place to start. The Fulbright Student grants competition for the 2002-03 academic year opens on 1 May and the Web site has full instructions on how to apply. Be sure to check out Next Wave's previously published articles about the Fulbright program and its relatives, such as the Institute of International Education.

I don't know if you will have your time filled up with classes while you're in Finland, but if not, you might consider an internship; this Web site has other useful information on financial aid and general travel help for those who will be studying abroad, so it would be worth your while to check it out.

Your academic institution should have an international studies office; I would definitely get in touch with them about possible funding sources. Also, if you live in a region of the country that has local Finnish social organizations--typically the northern climes--you may find help there. A good place to start would be the University of Minnesota Finnish Links and Resources page. If you do find a Finnish organization in your area, you might want to approach the officers regarding monetary support in exchange for, say, giving a talk about your experiences when you return to the States.

Enjoy your trip,

-- The GrantDoctor

Due to the high volume of questions received, The GrantDoctor cannot answer all queries on an individual basis. Look for an answer to your question published in this column soon! Thank you!

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