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Open to US citizens and non US citizens
Deadline: 10/23/2022

**Please note that priority will be given to submissions that detail projects which can be undertaken within the current COVID-19 restrictions.**

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.


Applications and all supporting materials, including a Faculty recommendation requested through the application system, are due electronically to CURF by 11:59pm on Sunday, October 23 (Applicants notified by December 16)Applications will be evaluated by a faculty committee designated by CURF. Applications with late material risk being not considered.

Eligibility and Guidelines

The Vagelos Grant is open to all full-time, regularly enrolled 1st year, sophomore, junior, and 1st semester senior undergraduates in good standing at any undergraduate school at the University of Pennsylvania.  Students are not eligible to apply in the semester in which they are due to graduate, even if submatriculating or planning to be on campus post-graduation.  International students are welcome to apply, but must be eligible to work in the US to receive funding.  International students should consult Penn Global’s Office of International Student and Scholar Services if they have questions about eligibility to work in the US. 

Research in any field is eligible for support, and the maximum award is $1,000. 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.

Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to speak with potential faculty mentors as early as possible, and applicants are invited to discuss their ideas with Dr. Ann Vernon-Grey, Senior Associate Director for Research at the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF).  Please schedule an appointment here.

The Vagelos Grant will be administered according to the following guidelines:

  • The project shall represent original research or scholarship allowing the student to make a significant contribution to knowledge.
  • The project shall be largely conceived and executed by the student and not simply represent faculty research in which the student assists.
  • Each project must have a Penn faculty advisor.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Procedure for Application

Prepare your proposal in consultation with your faculty research advisor. Prepare the following six components before proceeding to the Application Form. Also be prepared to request a letter of recommendation from a faculty mentor.

  1. Short abstract (~100 words): On a separate page, explain the overall goals of the project
  2. Proposal (~750 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. Depending on availability of funds, the amount awarded may be less than the total amount requested.  Last year’s awards ranged from $200 to a maximum of $1,000.
    • Funding provided should be used to help defray the student’s research costs and should not be a substitute for financial aid nor for the adviser’s research funding.
    • Funds are NOT to be used as programming or course costs.
    • Funds cannot be used to pay a student stipend.
    • Conference travel, registration, poster printing etc. are NOT acceptable expenses.
    • Types of expenses to which the funds may be applied include travel to libraries, museums, archives, and research sites; living expenses that would enable the student to participate in the project (outside of academic term time), research equipment, and supplies. 
    •  Reimbursement of living expenses may be taxable. Software and capital equipment are almost never funded.  Items that cost $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. 
    • If funds are being sought from other sources, state the source and potential amount of such funding.
  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.

Save each document as a pdf. Fill out the application form at Common Research Grant Application.

Letter of Recommendation

As early as possible, request a letter from your faculty research advisor via the Common Research Grant Application. Completing this form automatically generates an email to your recommender with instructions on how to upload their letter to the CURF site.  Please ask your advisor to anticipate the arrival of this email (which is sometimes sorted to junk or spam folders), and inform them whether you have chosen to keep their letter confidential and waive your right of access to it.  It is your responsibility that this letter be submitted to CURF no later than midnight on the grant due date .

This letter should:

  • Discuss the project’s feasibility and the adequacy of the applicant's preparation to complete it
  • Review and comment on the student's projected budget
  • Make clear the nature and extent of the applicant's contiribution in formulating the project and carrying out the project
  • Advise the student on any applicable Institutional Review Board or related issues
  • Detail what supplies and/or support they are able to provide to ensure project completion
  • Outline the active ways in which the student will be mentored during the research process (both in summer and beyond)

Procedures for Receiving Funding and 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, recipients will be given instructions on how to access these funds.

Appropriate Environmental Health & Radiation Safety training modules must be completed, and research involving animals must be approved 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



Undergraduate School

College, Engineering, Nursing, Wharton, LPS



Contact Information