Got Funding? Apply for GSG Awards

Written by Erin Michel, Graduate Assistant for the Graduate School

A gold medal reading "presidential medal of Graduate Student Excellence"

The Graduate Student Government serves many functions at UC, bridging the gap between students and administration, advocating for the needs of the grad student body, and holding a vast array of events. Some students may be unaware of one function of particular interest, and arguably GSG’s most direct means of helping students—their funding opportunities! Application deadlines for two different awards are approaching on December 9, so students are encouraged to begin considering their candidacy and start building their application this month. 

GSG Research Fellowship Award 

This award is designed to support graduate students conducting research across a variety of disciplines. Funding is capped at $1,700 per student, or $2,000 for interdisciplinary research projects or those that serve to advance diversity. I asked Dalton Cooper, GSG Vice President and point person for the Research Fellowship Award, to expand on this qualification. “What we’re looking for [for interdisciplinary research] is work that links together labs/researchers from different departments or sits on the intersection between different fields,” he explains. “Examples might include sports studies that use the latest AI learning models, or studies into human robot interactions in healthcare settings. The application involves space for you to explain and justify how your work meets these aims.” 

As for the “advancing diversity” specifier, Dalton explains that GSG is seeking to support research that includes traditionally underserved or understudied populations within the investigative process, both as researchers and participants. “In psychology, we note that research historically serves WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic) communities, which is not enough to generalize from at a base level. So, in terms of meeting these aims, I would say research that proactively seems to combat this biased tendency in science, work that focusses on the experiences on marginalized communities, work that seeks to expand the accessibility of science to wider communities – all of these would be good fits for the advancement of diversity. Again, the application gives scope for students to justify further how they feel their work fits, if not explicitly defined here.”  

Students can use the funding for a wide variety of research-related expenses, including equipment, software, travel, and costs associated with dissemination of research. “There are limitations on the funds, such as no personal computer equipment – but sometimes some technical lab equipment/devices can be difficult to obtain personally,” says Dalton. “I’ll note that it is encouraged to exhaust other funding sources for travel before requesting travel funds from the Research Fellowship award (such as the GSG Conference Travel and GSG Conference Membership Awards) – but it is an acceptable use of funds.”

Former GSG Research Fellowship Award winner Anthony Stone (Sociology PhD candidate), weighs in on the award and how he used it. Anthony’s research examines how minoritized populations make sense of their racialized experiences and identities, using semi-structured interviews and focus groups with Black men to investigate how they understand representations of Blackness, masculinity, and personhood in film—and how cinematic representations inform Black men’s sense of who they are. “The GSG Interdisciplinary/Diversity Research Award was a big help to my research because it allows me to pay for expenses related to data collection. It has allowed me to travel to collect data and pay for miscellaneous costs associated with my research, such as paying for participant's parking, focus group snacks, etc.,“ says Mr. Stone.  

GSG Presidential Medal of Graduate Student Excellence 

Another award with a December 4 application deadline is the PMGSE. This prestigious honor, open to all graduating master's and doctoral students (either fall 2022, spring 2023, or summer 2023), involves campus-wide recognition and presentation of a medal at the All-University Recognition Ceremony in April as well as the graduate commencement ceremony in May. Applicants must receive nominations and letters of recommendation from two faculty/staff members at UC, so beginning the process early is vital to ensuring adequate time for recommender submission of materials.  

Candidates for this award must be able to demonstrate excellence in multiple core areas, consistent with the award’s emphasis on multidimensional involvement and impact. Students must demonstrate high academic achievement (as evidenced by a minimum 3.2 GPA and attainment of research honors/publications/prior academic recognition), significant leadership contribution in campus or community spheres, and “graduate student impact,” meaning contributions to advancing and improving graduate student life. Finally, students must also demonstrate “tangible evidence” of potential for future success post-graduation, which might be evidenced through job offers, book/article contracts, grants for postdoctoral study, invitations to speak/perform, patents, or other indicators of post-graduate plans. “To my knowledge, this award is unique when compared to other presidential awards of different institutions, which focus on teaching or research; our award focuses on the overall excellence of the student,” says Gibin Raju, GSG President. “If students are unsure whether they qualify for the award, I would encourage them to reach out to me,” Gibin continues. “If they do not want to have a conversation, then I would still encourage them to apply as it serves as a reflective exercise where they can evaluate their time at the university and the impact UC has made in terms of their growth and potential in their professional track.”

Other Awards 

GSG offers other awards throughout the year, including their travel conference awards which are distributed on a rolling basis. They are in the process of adding two more Research Fellowship awards to the list, which will be updated on the GSG website soon. Students are encouraged to monitor the awards page to keep track of upcoming deadlines for award opportunities.