FUSE grants deadline approaches

Mackenzie Mathews

Deadlines are quickly approaching for 2014 summer and fall Faculty-Undergraduate Student Engagement (FUSE) grants. Students’ proposals to their faculty mentor and the Office of Research are due Friday, March 7, while faculty mentors have until March 17 to give their response to the Office of Research.

FUSE grants contribute to research projects designed by undergraduate students with help from a professor. Projects can vary anywhere from researching nanotechnology to painting a mural. Some students have received extra funding for expanding their goals internationally.

“Students have done literally anything, and all we’re interested in is if it’s a big impact, interesting, creative project and if it is then we’ll support,” Gordon Baylis, vice president of Research said.

If accepted by the faculty mentor, the proposal will be judged by the Office of Research, and once successful there, the student will receive various funds toward his or her project. Awardees will be announced mid-April.

All applicants must have an upstanding academic status and be at least sophomores by the time they would be beginning their work.

A one-credit hour class will be funded through the grant, and students will be required to attend a conference to present their completed work.

“It’s easy to sit in the back of a classroom somewhere and do what you’re told, but that’s a lot less valuable than you taking the initiative and proving that you can be successful,” Baylis said.

By the end of their endeavors, students will have an addition to their transcript, a presentation to include on their resume, and a faculty member to contact for future recommendations.

“I am blessed to have received the FUSE grant, to have had that opportunity that many college students don’t get,” Louisville senior Courtney Martin said.

Martin, a dance major, received her grant the summer of 2013 and used it to present a World Premiere dance concert at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She was accompanied by her mentor, theatre and dance professor Lisa Draskovich-Long and two other WKU dance majors.

The FUSE grant paid for show props, costumes, various artists’ work, roundtrip airfare and housing.

“I don’t know what we would’ve done without the FUSE grant; it contributed to the project so much,” Martin said. “It helped us grow and allowed us to actually bring in all those people to help us.”

Baylis and Gordon Emslie, vice president and provost for Academic Affairs, started the FUSE grants just over a year ago in order to promote students’ influence in their research. With about $300,000 a year, they are able to fund around 50 grants a semester.

“Students should really take responsibility for their own research,” Baylis said. “We want you to be problem-solvers with initiative.”