The push by Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) to seed the state’s universities with a new complement of talented graduate-student researchers is entering its second phase. SFAz has released a list of its 2007 Graduate Research Fellows, and has announced a new request for proposals (RFP) for its Graduate Research Fellowship Program.
SFAz expects its fellowship program to help boost standards for the state universities’ graduate-level programs in three critical areas: sustainability, information and communication technologies (ICT), and the biosciences. The attractiveness of the fellowships, worth up to $50,000 each over two years, will also help those programs become increasingly competitive internationally.
The RFP process requires each institution to submit a funding proposal to SFAz that outlines the number of Fellows it is requesting, the research areas they will represent, which faculty members will be available to mentor them, and how the infusion of new talent will strengthen the university’s strategic goals. Additionally, each university must commit to maintaining funding for its Fellows after SFAz’s support ends.
Under the 2007 grants, SFAz awarded a total of $4 million to support 82 fellows, including 41 at Arizona State University, 35 at the University of Arizona, and six at Northern Arizona University. The universities then selected the fellowship recipients, roughly half of which are engaging in bioscience-related research (though their areas of inquiry may in some cases spill over into sustainability or ICT).
“Given the high quality of the SFAz Fellows, we expect them to directly impact science through their own contributions to research investigations,” said Lee Drickamer, NAU’s Vice President of Research. “Indirectly,” Dr. Drickamer added, “they will enhance the work done in a number of research groups on campus, stimulating and providing examples for other students.”
For 2008, SFAz anticipates boosting the total number of fellowship awards to 100, and is tweaking the RFP process under which the universities will request funding. While the program will maintain its three critical research areas, SFAz will require that 50 percent of the new Fellows be appointed in engineering schools and related departments.
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