Vagelos Undergraduate Research Grant

Application Deadline

October 21, 2018

General Information

As a major research institution, the University of Pennsylvania believes that a research experience can make a significant contribution to an undergraduate student’s education.  The Vagelos Undergraduate Research Grant (formerly the Nassau Fund Award) has been established to provide support for outstanding undergraduate research efforts. Funds can be used for costs of materials and supplies, toward travel costs, or for costs of the project. The Vagelos Grant is open to all undergraduates at Penn, and research in any field is eligible for support. Students in the College should apply for the College Alumni Society Undergraduate Research Grant, but will be considered for the Vagelos Grant as funds are available.


Deadline: midnight, October 21 (Applicants notified by December 22)

Applications and all supporting materials, including Faculty recommendations, are due electronically to CURF by midnight on Sunday, October 21.  Applications will be evaluated by a faculty committee designated by CURF. Applications with late material risk being not considered.

Eligibility and Guidelines

Research support from the Vagelos Grant will be awarded in accordance with the following principles:

  • Research proposals in all disciplines, as well as interdisciplinary efforts, are encouraged. Proposals may involve theoretical research or research with practical applications.
  • Research should represent original scholarship that will allow the student to make a significant contribution to knowledge
  • The proposal should be largely conceived and executed by the student and not simply represent faculty research in which the student assits
  • Projects having no other funding source are particularly encouraged. When other funding sources can be identified, shared costs or matching funds will be encouraged whenever possible.
  • Funds will be allocated on the basis of merit without regard to school enrollment. When all other factors are equal, representation by disciplines will be considered.
  • Each project must have a Penn faculty advisor.
  • If several students are applying to work on aspects of the same project, each student must apply individually and describe clearly their independent research project, approach, methods, and evidence. Each student should also note in their individual application that their work is part of a larger project, and identify the other students working on aspects of the project.
  • Funds may be requested to support research during the academic year or during the summer. Normally, awards will not be granted in excess of $1,000 per student.
  • Examples of what may appropriately be requested in a budget include: research supplies, travel, and computer time. Books, software, and capital equipment are almost never funded. Items costing $500 or more with a useful life of one year or more must be purchased with a University purchase requisition and will remain the property of the University. Salaries, benefits, and overhead are not to be included.
  • Eligible applicants must be full-time, regularly enrolled, undergraduates in good standing in the University of Pennsylvania community

Procedure for Application

Prepare your proposal in consultation with your faculty research advisor. Prepare the following six components in this order before proceeding to the Application Form.  You must request a Letter of Recommendation separately (see below).  The information you enter about your recommender on the application form does not serve as a recommendation request, though you can link to the recommendation request form through the application.

  1. Short abstract (~100 words): On a separate page, explain the overall goals of the project
  2. Proposal (~500 words): Use the following as suggested areas to cover rather than required categories:
    1. Background: Evaluate existing knowledge and work in the area and briefly summarize/justify the proposed project’s potential contribution to the field
    2. Objectives: State the objectives and relevance of the proposed work in terms intelligible to an educated non-specialist
    3.  Methodology: Describe the design and procedures to be employed and provide a timetable and implementation plan for completion of the project
    4. Predicted Outcomes/Future Plans/Statement of Impact or Importance: Discuss some potential results to be generated from the submitted project, proposed next steps for the research, and a statement of lessons to be learned from the undertaking
  3. Bibliography (no more than one page – limit of 12 items) of key scholarly works (listed in the citation format used in your discipline) providing background for your project. These may be books or articles, and they may be a mix of theoretical and empirical works that inform the project. If desired, a one-sentence annotation may be used to explain a specific item’s relevance to the project, but annotations are not required
  4. Personal Statement (~250 words): Describe how this project fits with your academic, personal, or career plans for the future, and with your current academic, personal, and career interests and activities
  5. Budget (Itemized and Total Overall): On a separate page list each budget item in order of priority and justify it in terms of the work proposed. Include the total amount needed to complete the project, even if this is more than the grant limit of $1000. If funds are being sought from other sources, state the source and potential amount of such funding. Depending on availability of funds, the amount awarded may be less than the total amount requested.  Last year’s awards ranged from $250 to $1,000; the maximum for each award this year is expected to be about $1,000
  6. Transcript: Create an electronic "unofficial" version of your transcript by going to Penn In Touch —> Academic Records —> Transcript & GPA, and print your transcript as a .pdf.  If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer, download the free installer or use a Penn computer that has Adobe Acrobat installed. Do not request an official transcript from the registrar's office.  Do not upload a "locked" or official transcript.

Fill out the application form at Common Research Grant ApplicationYou must submit all these materials in a single file in .pdf format.  No other format will be accepted.  Print and save each document as a pdf, then create a single pdf file as indicated above by navigating to Acrobat’s “File -> Create -> Combine Files into a Single PDF” feature.

Letter of Recommendation

Your faculty research advisor must separately submit a supporting letter of recommendation on your behalf. It is your responsibility that this letter be submitted to CURF no later than midnight on October 21.

The letter should:

  • Review and comment on the student’s projected budget
  • Discuss the project’s feasibility and the adequacy of the applicant’s preparation to complete it
  • Describe the extent of the student’s contribution in formulating and carrying out the project
  • Advise the student on any applicable Institutional Review Board or related issues
  • If applicable, please indicate what supplies or support might be provided by your lab or budget

Please request the letter as soon as possible from your faculty research advisor via the Recommendation Request Form, and inform your faculty research advisor whether you have chosen to keep their letter confidential and waive your right of access to it.

Expectations for Grant Recipients

Funds will not be disbursed until students review CURF’s information on Ethics and Compliance and complete and submit all necessary forms. All CURF-funded student researchers must complete CURF’s Research Experience Checklist and Waiver of Liability. Students conducting research outside the US are required to provide International Travel and Emergency Contact information on the Checklist and register their trip with Penn’s Global Activities Registry.

Once the award has been made and the Research Experience Checklist and Waiver of Liability has been submitted to CURF and approved, research funds and a copy of your budget will be sent to the Business Administrator (BA) of your Primary major department listed on your application. Recipients must work with their Primary major department’s BA to determine how to access these funds.

Research involving animals or hazardous materials must also be submitted at the same time for approval by the relevant University oversight committees. Students should consult with their faculty research advisors to correctly submit any necessary forms.

Undergraduates receiving this funding are expected to (1) present a poster at a designated CURF event and (2) submit a research summary and photograph suitable for posting on CURF’s website.  The summary should describe the project’s goals and content, what the student learned through the research experience and how participating in this research project contributed to the educational experience.


Research Offering Type

Grant Independent Research

Research Offering Location


Undergraduate School

College Engineering Nursing Wharton LPS

Research Offering Source


Contact Information

Dr. Ann Vernon-Grey
Phone: 215-746-6488