to Undergraduate Research

RAB Grant Research at Brown

Research at Brown (RAB) grants support student-initiated projects. Applicants can seek up to $500 of funding. Most grantees will be awarded less than $500, although in some exceptional cases (see below) awards may equal or exceed $500. We support research and travel to present papers at conferences, although other kinds of creative projects may be funded if resources are available.

Examples of Support Available Through RAB:

  1. Materials for a student research project, as long as those materials are not available to the student through existing laboratories or facilities at Brown. For example, in the past students have needed supplies to conduct a specific experiment, but the laboratory in which they were working did not have the supplies and did not have a budget to purchase them.
  2. Travel to a museum, library, laboratory, observatory, or other research center, when materials or data are not available at Brown or through interlibrary loan. For example, a student conducting historical research may have to go to a town courthouse or town hall to look up deeds and other records.
  3. Funding for materials for thesis-related work, when the department does not have these materials or cannot pay for these materials out of their budget.
  4. Travel to conferences to present papers and/or posters. Funding is intended to partially cover costs of travel, registration fees, and limited per diem expenses. For travel grants submit the entire proposed budget, even if it is more than $500. We know that travel and conference fees can be expensive, so in some cases grants may exceed the $500 limit.
  5. Travel to attend a conference and not present a paper. The conference must be closely related to a research project. Proposals will be considered for funding if money is still available after material cost grants, paper presentation and research travel grants have been decided. These proposals require specificity and a clearly stated rationale for the particular value of a conference to the advancement of a research project. In some cases we have supported travel for students who have attended an advanced research conference with their faculty advisors.
  6. Students often think that grants are for scientists. We welcome proposals from the arts and humanities as well.

Funding is not available to:

  1. Support salary for a student. (See UTRA for salary support for research at Note: Students at Brown (as at most schools) cannot get both credit and pay for the same research hours.
  2. Reimbursement for expenses already incurred. Support is only for research planned or in progress.
  3. Pay for computers, hard-drives, or servers.
  4. Pay for expensive travel and accommodations when less expensive options are available.
    5. Pay for expensive equipment items such as DV cameras, editors, and video projectors. If demand for such items exists, we will purchase one of each for students to share.

Grants are evaluated using the following criteria:

  1. Explanation of project: Is the proposal well written, interesting, and relatively easy for non-specialists in the field (our reviewers) to understand?
  2. Importance to the field: How important is the project in terms of its contribution to new knowledge, or to service to Brown or the wider community?
  3. Importance to the student: How vital is the proposed project to the educational mission of the student?
  4. Faculty support: Although in some rare cases we will consider projects that have no faculty involvement, generally we expect that a successful grant proposal will come with strong faculty endorsement.
  5. Timeliness: Will funding at this moment provide just what the student needs at this time in his or her academic career? Will it help the student get a new endeavor off the ground? Will it provide what is needed to acquire data critical to a research project? Will it help the student wrap up an ongoing project?
  6. Creativity: Project ideas that are especially creative will catch the attention of the reviewers.
  7. Student Initiated: The RAB Committee is looking for projects that are generated by students, although of course faculty members can help them refine their ideas.

To apply for a RAB grant, submit your proposal here:

Once you have submitted your proposal, the computer will automatically e-mail a copy of your proposal to your professor/advisor/mentor. She or he will then be directed to another website to submit a faculty letter of support. Once both the proposal and the letter of support are submitted electronically, the entire package of information is delivered to the RAB Committee.

The Committee meets once each semester, immediately after the deadlines. Applicants are notified of their proposal's status within ten days of the deadline. (For the 2002-2003 academic year the deadlines are November 2 and February 22.) Please note that students may submit a proposal anytime, but the Committee reserves the right to consider them only at the semi-annual reviews. In urgent cases, for example when a student learns that a paper is accepted at a conference with just a few weeks notice, contact either the RAB assistant, Jan Cal or the RAB Chair, Dean David Targan. In such cases we will speed up the proposal review process by routing copies of your proposal to the Committee members for consideration.

Students may apply as part of a team, but each member of the team must submit their own electronic proposal independently. If you are applying as a team, please indicate the names of the other team members in your project title.

If you do not receive a RAB grant you are free to see Dean Targan to discuss the rationale for our decision, and whether a new and revised submission is appropriate. Some RAB applicants have received funding after re-submitting their proposals after learning more about the proposal and review process. We are sorry to say that we cannot support every worthy proposal- this grant pool is very competitive and funding is limited. Nevertheless, we encourage you to apply for this grant if you think your proposal merits consideration.

Those receiving awards must submit a report to Janice Cal upon completion of the project. This report can include text and pictures, or can be simply an abstract. We need this report for our annual report to donors who have contributed to this fund so that we can sustain funding for future Brown students. Students are encouraged to report publicly on their work in their department, in Brown's annual summer research symposium, or in other appropriate venues in the University for sharing and celebrating research. Ideally, the grantee will create an appropriate web site to disseminate information about the project, both the process and final product. For assistance in creating such a website, examples of websites created using past RAB support, or any questions whatsoever regarding the RAB grants, please contact Dean Targan. He can be reached by telephone: X3-2314, e-mail ( or by coming to his open hours in UH 206. (For the 2002-2003 academic year they are every Thursday 2 to 4 pm.)




Search A to Z News and Calendars People and Places about this page Technology Transfer (BURF) Funding Electronic Resources Policies and Procedures Academic Departments Research Support Undergraduate Research Libraries and Museums Research Centers Research Publications