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Natural Sciences and Engineering

campus in fall

INFORMATION and FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Divisional grants within the Natural Sciences and Engineering provide students the opportunity to pursue research or other scholarly engagement designed to enhance the student’s overall exposure to intellectual inquiry and research.  Due to the vertical nature of scientific study and the need for lab resources beyond what a student could access independently, it is difficult for students in the natural sciences and engineering fields to conduct independent research.  Therefore, the Division of Natural Sciences and Engineering awards only mentored research projects with rare exceptions.  Students who participate in existing faculty projects are able to engage with faculty members, often working in their labs on campus or participating in their field research. Students work side by side with faculty members gaining valuable exposure to the foundation of research principles and practice.  Recent recipients of divisional grants have had the opportunity to participate in faculty research projects that explored adolescent suicidality, the cognitive biases in the perception of spatial orientation, the courtship behaviors of female fruit flies, and the use of the probabilistic method in refinement of large symmetric game reduction, for example.

NSE awards fall into two categories: working with a Swarthmore College faculty member on campus or in the field; or working with a non-Swarthmore faculty member or supervisor off-campus at another institution. The vast majority of awards fall into the first category.

Students interested in applying for a mentored research project within the Natural Sciences and Engineering division must follow any existing department-specific protocol, including substantial consultation with their intended faculty supervisor, who will offer guidance on the content of the student’s proposal, and will also serve as the faculty recommender for the project. These discussions should come well in advance of the application period. During the application process, students will submit the faculty member’s name as part of their online application which will then prompt the faculty member to respond to the recommender prompts.

Students applying for funding for a mentored research project in an NSE-related field at an off-campus institution with a non-Swarthmore supervisor should have the name of their expected supervisor, institution, and a project title. The proposal should be based on a description of the project or work as provided by the supervisor, and should be discussed with a Swarthmore faculty member in the field, or a closely related field. This faculty member should serve as the faculty recommender for the proposal. During the application process, students will submit the faculty member’s name and the off-campus supervisor’s name as part of their online application which will then prompt these recommenders to respond to the recommender prompts. It is acceptable to apply for such funding even if acceptance into the off-campus project is still pending.

For more information regarding the application process and the program, students should familiarize themselves with the INFORMATION and FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.