Funding Opportunities as a Grad Student

Hello and welcome to my blog! I am excited to begin sharing with you my research and some aspects of life as a PhD student.

Being my first blog post, and that it is most definitely “funding season” for those of you looking for funding, I wanted to share with you all a little about the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden, their Botany in Action Fellowship, and how I found out about this and other funding opportunities for graduate students.

First of all, Phipps Botanical Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens I have visited. I was extremely impressed with their attention to detail and the amount of thought that was obviously put into each of the exhibit’s designs. However, what was even more impressive was Phipps’ dedication to sustainability. The building where we spent the majority of our time during our workshop, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes building, is one of the greenest buildings in the world, generating all of its energy on site. To learn more about what all this entails, visit their webpage on the building and certifications by clicking the link above.

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The reason of course that I had the opportunity to visit the gardens was through the Botany in Action Fellowship I was awarded to help fund my research and development as a researcher and science communicator. As a part of the grant requirements, each awardee keeps a blog of their research and other aspects related to being a PhD student. This is a venture I have wanted to start for a long time and I am extremely grateful that I was chosen to begin this with Phipps where I was able to learn more about engaging the public with my work. Not to mention all the wonderful students I met in the program, the original founders of the fellowship, and those who carry on its legacy today.  To follow other students' blogs, find those links on their profile pages here.

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So perhaps the most useful bit of knowledge for my fellow grad students, or grad students to be is, “how do I get funding?” The answer is not simple, but finding those opportunities is step number one and google-fuing is probably your best skill here. There is a lot of searching you have to do to find the kinds of grants, fellowships, scholarships, etc., that you qualify for and that you can use towards your research. And its important to keep in mind, all of these funding types mean something different! (Some have different requisites both prior-to and post award).

Some of the most well-known fully-funded fellowships include:

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program
Ford Foundation Fellowship
Fulbright Fellowships for International Studies and the Fulbright-Hays Dissertation Fellowship
National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship

Some of the most well-known botany-related grants include:

Richard Evans Schultes Research Award
Botanical Society of America Graduate Student Research Award
The Garden Club of America Awards in Tropical Botany
The Explorers Club Grant

Of course there are many other opportunities, and not all funding calls fall nicely into one category or the other. Take the Botany in Action Fellowship for example, it is both a fellowship and a grant. Other places to look for funding include your institution, small clubs and local organizations, and within different societies you are a part of. Creativity is often key here but with a little time spent googling and talking with other students and professors in your field, you undoubtedly will amass a list far larger than the one I have presented to you today.