Apply for a Bass Connections Student Research Award by March 5

January 25, 2021

Bass Connections Student Research Award.

Deadline and Submission

Proposals should be submitted using this online form by Friday, March 5, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. EST.


Bass Connections creates opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to work alongside faculty to explore societal challenges through interdisciplinary research teams. The Bass Connections Student Research Award provides funds of up to $3,000 (for one to two students) or $5,000 (for groups of more than two students) to support student-directed research projects that meet one of the following parameters:

  1. Undergraduate and graduate students who have completed (or are completing) a Bass Connections year-long project team or summer program may propose to continue some aspect of the team’s work through a faculty-mentored research experience. Such research experiences may be either individual or collaborative although collaborative projects are preferred.
  1. Students who have participated in Bass Connections may also propose a research project that is not related to their Bass Connections experience so long as the proposed project is collaborative (i.e., involving at least two students) and interdisciplinary in nature.
  1. Undergraduate and graduate students who have not yet participated in Bass Connections may also apply so long as the proposed project is collaborative (i.e., involving at least two students) and interdisciplinary in nature.

Special restrictions due to COVID-19: While we aspire to support applied, student-driven research projects, the health and safety of students and the community are our top priority. For Summer 2021, we anticipated that students will be able to conduct on-campus research and live in on-campus housing. Duke-sponsored domestic and international travel will not be allowed in Summer 2021. Local fieldwork will continue to be subject to approval. Students may propose projects involving domestic or international travel in Fall 2021 or Spring 2022, but students should understand that any travel is subject to change in accordance with university policy. 

When submitting a proposal, you should carefully consider whether the proposed research will be feasible under the current circumstances, and address in the proposal how you might adapt your research plan if aspects of the project are not feasible due to COVID-19 restrictions. If the proposed research involves in-person contact or fieldwork, the proposal should address how the team will adhere to COVID-19 protocols.

Other Eligibility Criteria

  • All projects must have a faculty mentor.
  • Projects must involve research.
  • Projects must occur within the next year (from May 2020 to May 2021).
  • Students must be active students during the time of the proposed research (i.e., graduating students are not eligible).
  • Students who have previously received a Bass Connections research award may not apply again.

For examples, view previous awardees from 2020 and 2019.  

Proposal Criteria

Proposals should be no longer than five pages and should be submitted as a single document using this online form. Proposals are due Friday, March 5, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. ET and should include:

  • Abstract: Provide a brief summary of the project and the issue it will address (1-2 paragraphs, no more than 200 words).
  • Research plan: A brief narrative that articulates: 1) the goals of the research; and 2) a plan of how the research will be conducted, including a timeline for key activities.
  • Connection to Bass Connections: If this research follows directly from a Bass Connections team experience, please articulate this connection. For projects that are not connected to a Bass Connections team experience, please explain how the proposed project aligns with the Bass Connections model (team-based, interdisciplinary research around societal challenges), and the origins of the proposed work (e.g., inspired by an experience in a particular course, DukeEngage, Study Away, Duke Immerse, a humanities lab, an extra-curricular experience).
  • Team composition: List all students who will be involved in the research and any external partners.   
  • Student development: For each student involved, explain how this project fits within their overall academic and professional plan.
  • COVID-19 contingencies: Please address any risks to your project plan based on evolving COVID-19 restrictions and how you might adapt the project as needed. If you are proposing research involving contact outside of the Duke community, please address how you will ensure that university COVID-19 protocols are followed.  
  • Budget: Submit a budget plan (up to $3,000 total for projects involving one to two students or up to $5,000 total for projects involving more than two students) and timeline for the use of funds. Please list all other sources and amounts of support for the research project, both confirmed and anticipated/applied for (if applicable). 

The following expenses are not allowable:

  • Students may not pay themselves for time spent conducting this research. This award is intended to cover material costs to enable you to accomplish your research goals.
  • Funds may not be used to purchase specific equipment costing more than $1,000 (e.g., computers, cameras). 
  • Funds may not be used to cover personal living expenses at a permanent residence. Funds may only be used to cover temporary living expenses to conduct field research (which can include Durham during the summer only). 

Allowable expenses might include: transcription services, local ground transportation, attendance at a conference to present your research (although note that this should not be the entirety of your proposal), travel expenses for field research (when COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted), minor equipment such as recording devices for interviews, lab tests and materials, minor software not already offered by Duke, minor payments to research participants, subscriptions to surveying/data management tools, printing/publication expenses and books/training to support your research.

Please note that neither of these lists are all-inclusive, but rather are intended to help you consider common, allowable expenses.

  • Faculty endorsement: Submit a letter or e-mail of support from the faculty mentor (can be submitted as a separate attachment, if needed). This letter should articulate the faculty mentor’s willingness to supervise the project; why they feel the research is worthwhile; and any other relevant information about their connection to the proposer(s).

Review and Selection

We anticipate awarding funds to at least seven projects, with a preference for collaborative projects. Proposals will be reviewed by the Bass Connections Faculty Advisory Council and Bass Connections leadership. Decisions will be announced by March 31, 2021, and funds will be awarded as appropriate to the timing of the project.

As a condition of funding, awardees will be required to provide a 400-600 word reflection on their research experience, with photos, by no later than April 30, 2022. The Bass Connections program team may also check in with awardees during the year to request a short update.


Laura Howes, Director, Bass Connections; (919) 684-9021

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