Do you have a great research project idea but lack the funds to see your idea become reality? If you are an eligible undergraduate student you could receive a grant of up to $2,500 for your independent research project. Currently there are two competitions for 2017. According to the NSU Grants office, applications for Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 are due April 3rd, 2017, and applications for Spring 2018 and Fall 2018 are due October 30, 2017. More information can be found on myNSU or by contacting the NSU Grants office. Sienna Wessel, a junior from Aberdeen, SD, majoring in biology with a biotechnology certification, received a grant during the 2015-2016 cycle. Maris Grewe, a junior from Aberdeen, SD, majoring in business management, received a grant during the 2016-2017 cycle. Sienna Wessel became aware of the research grant competition about a week before the submission deadline during her freshman year. Her advisor, Dr. Jon Mitchell, Associate Professor of Biology, encouraged her to apply for a grant to further investigate a project that had been initiated in a prior biology class with Dr. Mitchell. After submitting a proposal and setting up a time for an oral presentation, Wessel was successful in acquiring the grant and presented her research at the research forum in Pierre, SD. All the information and forms needed to apply are available on myNSU. The application process is well-organized. Wessel’s project, titled “Fungicidal Properties of Essential Oils and Secondary Metabolites against Fungal Strains Common to Damping-Off Disease,” takes a closer look at select native South Dakotan plants to see if they contain naturally occurring chemicals that would exhibit fungicidal action against a strain of fungus that causes damping-off disease in plants. This disease is responsible for massive crop losses and extreme financial deficit for many American farmers.
Wessel then compared the essential oils from plants that did exhibit action against a leading brand of commercial fungicide. As Wessel states, “One of my research goals was to expand the fungicide market for organic gardeners and farmers, since there isn’t much available for damping-off disease. This inspired me to question how large scale greenhouse and farm operations deal with the issue and everything else fell in line from there. The grant funding was essential to the completion of my study as many of the materials were very expensive and outside of the department budget for student projects.” Maris Grewe, on the other hand, is exploring millennial students’ awareness to their own environmental sustainability habits and to the sustainable activities taking place on NSU’s campus.
A survey was distributed to the student population before and after a recycling program and six-month marketing campaign were initiated on campus to test millennial students’ perception. Through the grant funding, Grewe was able to execute the marketing campaign and purchase bins to follow through with the recycling program. Overall, Wessel and Grewe are just two students who found success with their grant proposals and research experience. Wessel considered her grant proposal and research experience to be very informative and exciting. She states, “The opportunity to learn so much about research design, grant writing, and to use high-end equipment for experiments as a new sophomore was incredibly special. Students should know that they will absolutely encounter challenges but that they should count them among the great experiences of research and truly getting to do exciting work. Nothing else could be such an accurate window into a potential future career than assuming the role directly.” Both grant recipients highly encourage other students to apply for the Northern State University Undergraduate Competitive Research Grant. Wessel and Grewe considered the process to be an absolutely invaluable experience. All majors are encouraged to apply.