The Chappell Lougee Scholarship for summer research projects received a record number of applications by the Feb. 1 deadline, according to Christina Mesa, an Undergraduate Advising and Research (UAR) academic director and the scholarship’s new coordinator. Winners can receive grants up to $6,000.
More than 60 students discussed applications one-on-one with her, and nearly 40 applied this year, according to Mesa. Last year, 26 Chappell Lougee Scholarships were awarded to 15 women and 11 men.
The scholarship, open solely to sophomores, was designed to give students in the humanities, creative arts and qualitative sciences an opportunity to spend the full summer between their sophomore and junior years pursuing independent research topics of their choosing. The topics need not be related to students’ majors.
“Students working in the humanities and social sciences ought to have the same opportunity as scientists to remain on campus or go somewhere to do research projects in a natural lab setting,” Mesa said.
Mesa added that students proposed a wide range of interesting topics, from social media to the Olympics to the history of railroads. A Facebook page for 2011 Chappell Lougee Scholars offers a space for the researchers – who call themselves “chaps” – to chronicle their experiences.
The Chappell Lougee Scholarships were established in 1987 to honor history professor Carolyn Chappell Lougee’s work as dean of undergraduate studies from 1982 to 1987. The original funding came from Stanford’s Centennial Campaign fundraising and the Chappell Lougee family.
“It was our hope that engaging undergraduates in research with faculty members would offer students the advantages of being at a research university,” Lougee said in an email to The Daily. “The Chappell Lougee scholarships targeted sophomores as a way of involving students early on in their undergraduate years.”
Winning a Chappell Lougee scholarship does not affect a student’s other financial aid. Although faculty mentors are required, academic advisors are familiar with this program and serve to guide students toward appropriate faculty to help develop research projects.
Mesa noted that the grant is appropriate for students who can proceed with a high degree of independence and autonomy.
“Good research is responsive and allows itself to be shaped by resources at hand, so curious, open-minded, teachable students who are willing to be wrong and do leg work are the most effective in this type of endeavor,” Mesa said.
Research can be conducted in the United States or abroad and the scholarship is open to international students.
Megan Winkelman ‘13 spent her summer at Oxford writing a short novella about women and mental illness.
“Working on my Chappell Lougee project was the best summer of my life – it was rigorous and eye-opening,” Winkelman said. “I got the space to experiment with history and literature and settle into a place that fit me the best, a narrative-based health story telling the feelings of women. Mesa nurtured me and suggested I look at this my freshman year.”
Brittany Rymer ‘13 researched urban farming in the Bay Area, exploring the motivations behind the new concept of urban farmers during the past five to 10 years. Rymer noted that her project evolved significantly from her initial proposal.
“The ability to change the focus of your proposal is one of the best things about the Chappell Lougee,” Rymer said. “It’s nice to have the freedom to be able to change and shift focus. As sophomores, we’re new to research and it’s hard to design a proposal, so the flexibility is great.”
Rymer said she hopes to expand her research into an honors thesis.
Mesa said she has witnessed Chappell Lougee scholars bloom into Fulbright scholars.
“People don’t always start off amazing; they start off curious,” Mesa said. “Many students come into my office in Lagunita Court to just have a conversation, with no idea of what they want to do.”