Bass Connections Student Research Awards

Proposals for 2024 awards are now closed; the application for 2025 awards will open in November 2024.


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 a follow-on project to continue some aspect of their team’s work through a faculty-mentored research experience. Such research experiences must be student-driven and may be either individual or collaborative, but collaborative projects are preferred. (Please note that this opportunity should not be viewed as add-on funding for teams but as an avenue through which students can propose original research projects that build on the work of their team.)
  2. Undergraduate and graduate 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. 
  3. Undergraduate and graduate students who have not 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. 

Teams that include at least one Trinity undergraduate student might consider applying for the Student Team Grants opportunity, which is also accepting applications for 2024-2025 through February 19, 2024.

Other Eligibility Criteria

  • All projects must have a faculty mentor.
  • Projects must involve research. 
  • Projects must occur within the next year (from May 2024 to May 2025). 
  • Students must be active students during the time of the proposed research (i.e., graduating students are not eligible).
  • Students who have already received an individual Bass Connections Student Research Award may not apply again for an individual award; however they are eligible to apply for this award as part of a team. Students can apply for and receive this award multiple times as part of a team. Preference will be given to students who have never received an award.

Proposal Requirements

All proposals must be submitted through our online proposal form by February 19, 2024 at 5:00 p.m. You may work directly within the online form and save and return to the form as you work. For your planning purposes, key proposal elements include:

  • Project title
  • Description of the project, including an abstract, research plan, how the project will contribute to student development, how the project builds off a prior Bass Connections experience or aligns with the Bass Connections model, how the team will operate (for collaborative proposals), how the project will engage external partners (if applicable) and a timeline
  • Project details, including whether the project includes research with animals or human subjects and a risk management plan for projects involving fieldwork
  • Budget (see additional guidance below)
  • Letter of recommendation from a faculty mentor: You may attach a letter of support in the online form or ask your faculty mentor to email a letter of support to Meghan O’Neil by February 19, 2024 at 5:00 p.m. Your mentor’s letter should address the scholarly value of your research project, their assessment of your preparedness for completing the project, their commitment to helping supervise and process project expenses and how they intend to support you (e.g., how often the mentor and students will meet, how the mentor will provide guidance, oversight and assistance).

Budget Guidance

When submitting a proposal, you will be asked to share a detailed budget plan for the entire proposed project, noting other sources of funding that you have secured or for which you have applied. Maximum funding for this award is $3,000 for projects involving one to two students or $5,000 for projects involving more than two students.

For your planning purposes, please note the following funding limitations:

Reasonable expenses include:

  • Fees associated with use of archives, lab equipment and materials, etc. 
  • Software licenses 
  • Research participant incentives 
  • Research supplies and materials 
  • Transcription services 
  • Books/training to support your research 
  • Printing/publication expenses
  • Travel for field research
  • Summer housing expenses
  • Fees to attend a conference to present your research (although this may not make up the entirety of your proposed budget)

Funds may not be used:

  • As a stipend or salary (i.e., students may not pay themselves for time spent conducting this research)
  • To purchase personal equipment or durable items costing more than $1,000 (e.g., computers, cameras, clothing) 
  • 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)
  • To cover personal taxes

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

Funds will be administered via a Duke “fund code.” Students must work with their faculty advisor to use a departmental purchase card or file for reimbursement. Some expenses (e.g., housing) will be issued as a non-compensatory payment to students and will be considered taxable income.

Review and Selection

We anticipate awarding funds to 7-10 projects, with a preference for collaborative projects. Proposals will be reviewed by the members of the Interdisciplinary Strategy Council and Bass Connections leadership. Decisions will be announced in mid-March 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 500-word reflection on their research experience, with photos, by no later than April 30, 2025. The Bass Connections program team may also check in with awardees during the year to request a short update. 


For questions or more information, please contact Meghan O’Neil, Assistant Director, Bass Connections.

Past Recipients