The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Supporting Student Growth through Research Opportunities

Grant Information
Categories Education
Location United States
Cycle Year 2012
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) Reed College
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Diane B. gumz
Phone 503/777-7560
3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.
Additional Information
Used for We will use this grant to fund research projects during the academic year or summer for students majoring in any discipline. The number of projects will be determined by the variety and quality of proposals submitted; we hope to fund three or more projects. We will cover reasonable expenses including: student wages and benefits for summer research, supplies, software, travel to attend a conference to present a paper, and travel to conduct interviews or to do other field research.
Benefits As students become involved in research, they learn to ask insightful questions of rich subject areas. They encounter and adapt to problems not presented in controlled lab environments or pre-planned classroom work. Research funds help students grow both in their maturity and their academic range.
Proposal Description Background on Student Research

Undergraduate students reap tremendous benefits from the opportunity to pursue research projects. The required year-long senior thesis at Reed provides the best example of this, but students may also pursue research during the summer months, or as part of an independent research project or an upper level course. These experiences frequently introduce students to the research paradigm. Summer research is especially valuable, since students can spend focused time on a project and exercise independent thinking. These experiences can open up new areas of inquiry, redirect students’ career paths, vault them ahead in their chosen field, and grapple with the actual process of creating professional scholarship. In addition, by working with faculty members on a research project, students are exposed to what an adult working life looks like in academia, which can be a revelation, putting life and work in perspective.

After engaging in research our students often become co-authors on publications, not just conference presentations. In the lab of professor of psychology Paul Currie over a dozen Reed students have been co-authors in the past couple of years. This helps students be more competitive for post-graduate fellowships and scholarships such as the Fulbright. Two of Professor Currie’s students in past three years were awarded Fulbrights in neuroscience based in large part to their research experience with him.

Though the benefits of student research are clear, finding funds for all of our students who want to engage in this work has been more challenging. In the past, faculty members in the sciences and some social sciences have been able to support some student researchers through external grants from federal agencies for their research. But federal funding for faculty research has dropped precipitously. For example, in 2002 the National Science Foundation funded 27 percent of grant applications from the biological sciences; by 2011 that rate had slipped to 18 percent. Beyond the sciences, funds for research for students majoring in the humanities, most social sciences, and the performing arts have been—and remain—difficult to obtain.

During the 1995 Campaign for Reed College, we responded to the need for student research funds by creating the first college-wide endowed fund to enhance research opportunities for students. This fund typically provides 20-25 awards totaling $15,000 to $20,000. In addition to this college-wide resource, we have 15 specialized endowed funds for research on public policy issues, economics and natural resources, the arts, humanities, and the sciences. Altogether, these specialized funds support about 40 or more students annually.

Even with these funds, student interest has exceeded available resources. For some time, the president’s office has been providing discretionary grants for research and related activities to students on a case-by-case basis. In recent years, the president’s office has typically issued 5-10 of these last-resort grants per year totaling $5,000 in response to student applications that demonstrate lack of available funding, include letters of faculty support, and in many cases include a commitment of the student’s personal funds.

In 2005, Reed received a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation to support student research. This grant provided funding for students to support thesis research and other independent research projects and to take advantage of special learning opportunities not available at Reed. By the end of the 2011-2012 academic year, 183 students had taken advantage of these grants. At its peak, students spent $36,373 of these funds in one academic year. Now, these funds are completely spent, leaving a troubling gap between the potential for student achievement and resources necessary to enable their pursuits.

We have found that students have a wide variety of needs for which they apply. In the sciences, for example, while Reed’s facilities and budgets include basic equipment and the budget includes funds for basic reagents associated with a two semester senior thesis project in laboratory or field based research, students may need supplemental funds in order to take advantage of other resources outside of the Reed campus. The use of state of the art confocal microscopy or high resolution electron microscopy are two such examples of equipment use that is available in the Portland area. In order to use this equipment, our students may need to travel and participate in training, which can involve a substantial fee. Access to funds for such an experience allows students to pursue a project that would otherwise be restricted due to the available equipment on campus.

Science students can also benefit from funds to visit museum collections as part of their research. Tissue samples taken from museum collections may add a historic perspective to a genetics study. Many museums have samples collected hundreds of years ago from animal and plants now endangered. These samples allow a student to address questions related to changing genetic structure or population distribution for a species. This type of work would logically supplement a more restricted sampling by the student, or lend empirical evidence to a computational modeling project.

Students who are majoring in languages and humanities can benefit from the opportunity to travel to archives. One of our students requested support to conduct research at the Pierre Guyotat Archives at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. Another student requested funds to conduct archival research at the Portuguese National Library to examine the broader context of 18th century urban design merged with 18th century Portuguese politics, specifically in relation to the Lisbon earthquake. The inclusion of archival sources in the thesis greatly improves the depth and quality of the final product.


At this time, we request a grant of $15,000 from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation for student research in any discipline, during the academic year or summer. This will enable Reed to provide more research opportunities to its students. The undergraduate research committee will be responsible for awarding the funds. This group of five faculty members manages the majority of student research funds at Reed, including the existing endowed funds, and the now spent Mellon Foundation student research grants. They do so through a competitive proposal process, including a narrative and budget. The committee will use this award to make grants of $2,500 to $5,000 for research expenses including: student wages and benefits for summer research, supplies, software, travel to attend a conference to present a paper, and travel to archives, conduct interviews or do other field research.