Undergraduate Conference Travel Fund opens up world of opportunities
By Taylor Evans
Feb. 1, 2013
Undergraduate students at Ohio University are traveling across the country, and sometimes the world, to present their research and creative work at a wide variety of conferences. With expenses ranging from hotel rooms to airfare, students may need some help accomplishing their goals. Ohio University's Undergraduate Conference Travel Fund assists students by alleviating the costs that conferences incur.
Started in 2012, the Travel Fund can award up to $7,500 per year. Students apply for aid on a rolling basis on the principle of first come, first serve. The only qualification to apply is that the applicant must be an undergraduate enrolled at the university and must be presenting their research or creative works at the venue. The students are required to submit a proposal that includes basic information about their trip, such as location, and a budget with justification of expenses. When the proposal is approved, they receive $500 for the conference.
According to Roxanne Malé-Brune, who manages the Travel Fund, the fund was developed in conjunction with Sarah Wyatt, associate professor of plant biology, who advocated the creation of the fund to meet the need of undergraduates to present their work. Malé-Brune worked with the Office of Development to develop a campaign to fund the program, which has received significant support from alumni.
"The university has made a concerted effort to have undergraduates participate in research and creative efforts," Malé-Brune said. "It was an effort to get students to move out of the classroom and really test-drive their careers and to engage in these opportunities."
Twenty-two students have benefitted from the fund since its inception; seven of them have received aid in the 2012-2013 academic year.
Caroline Walp, a printmaking major, heard about the Travel Fund through her professor. With help from the fund, Walp was able to travel to the Mid American Print Council Conference at Southeast Missouri State Missouri in November 2012 and display her handmade books.
"[The Travel Fund] gave me the ability to go without having to worry about finances," Walp said. "This conference in particular was very beneficial. I got a lot of press after it and I was featured on a blog."
Ryan Lubbe, an applied health sciences major, received aid from the Travel Fund two years in a row to attend the Midwest American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting. He shares Walp's sentiments about the aid.
"I think it was a great opportunity. I would've had to pay for my own way to get there," Lubbe said. "It was just a big relief to know that I could go to the conference and not have to worry about finances or how I would get there."
James Herpy, a biological sciences/biomedical sciences major, also received money from the fund. He went to Munich, Germany, to participate in the Congress of the Growth Hormone Research Society and the IGF Society. He presented his research on cancer cells and which growth hormones were expressed in different cancer cell lines. Herpy's time at the conference provided him with the chance to network and form new connections.
"I made a lot of good relationships with professionals in the field. I got to meet people from Paris and Berlin and Barcelona," Herpy said. "All of these people have their own labs and are doing similar research to what I'm doing here at Ohio University. If the opportunity for me to travel comes up, I have those resources to talk to and perhaps do internships abroad in their labs."
The Undergraduate Travel Fund will continue to help students as long as it receives aid from Ohio University's alumni who, according to Malé-Brune, donate all of the money in the fund.
"It's really been surprising how much the alumni have contributed," Malé-Brune said. "The Development Office says that sometimes they fundraise huge amounts of money from just a few individuals, but it turns out that this fund is so popular that they're getting donations in all amounts from a diverse group of alumni."
For more details about the fund, visit http://www.ohio.edu/research/funding.cfm or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.