Programs for students

NASA WVSGC Graduate Research Program

Provides funding for graduate students working on a thesis or dissertation with faculty from member institutions.

Who may apply:

All graduate students in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields enrolled at WVSGC affiliate institutions.

These one-year Fellowships will be awarded competitively to graduate students at a member institution of the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium (WVSGC) as well as undergraduate seniors who have been admitted to a graduate program in a STEM field at one of the academic affiliates of WVSGC who will be engaged in a research project either during the academic year and/or in the summer. Brief quarterly progress reports and a final report will be required. Applicants for these fellowships must be full-time students of U.S. citizenship.

Proposal due date: Tuesday March 5, 2024, by 11:59 PM (EST)

Mentor Endorsement for student applications due Thursday, March 7, 2024. (5:00 p.m. EST)

Award announcement date: Early-May 2024

Anticipated project start date: May 16, 2024

We strongly encourage applications from all affiliate institutions. This is a limited submission opportunity. Faculty mentors may only endorse up to three students per year. If you are in a lab that has more than three students who want to apply, your lab will have to have an internal submission process to pre-select the three applications that will move forward. This is similar to what federal agencies do with what are termed “limited submissions”. 

Graduate student applicants must complete the online application here.

Proposal: Please upload a well-written (easy to understand, with no grammatical or spelling errors) maximum three-page summary of the research plan in your own words, including a statement of the problem, methodology, significance, expected results, description of the relationship of the proposed project to NASA’s area(s) of research (The full list of NASA Mission Directorates and Center Alignment can be found here.), and proposed timeline. References do not count towards the three-page limit. The document must be in PDF format and single-spaced using Times New Roman (TNR) font size 12, 1″ margin on all sides. This research plan must be reviewed and approved by the applicant’s faculty mentor. Please be aware that reviewers of the proposal may not be experts within your field of study, and the proposal should be written accordingly. Proposals should be written with minimal use of jargon. Mentors may provide editorial and revision assistance for student proposals, but they must be primarily the work of student applicants. A letter of support from the faculty mentor is to be submitted separately from the student application – applications missing a letter of support will be disqualified and will not be reviewed.

To be considered for funding, you must identify one of the NASA Mission Directorates. You must fully explain the connection between your proposed research and the directorate’s aims in the proposal; failure to identify a mission directorate on the cover page will result in disqualification and the proposal will not be reviewed.

Budget (1 page): A faculty member from the applicant’s department, preferably student’s thesis/dissertation advisor, must agree to serve as a mentor and research advisor for the described project. Each award will be up to $15,000. These awards must be supplemented by a 1:1 cost share by the applicant’s home institution, and budget should cover the grant funding and cost share amount, as well as note how the cost share will be covered.

Graduate tuition waiver by the college/university, and documented time spent by the faculty to mentor the student may be counted toward fulfillment of the cost share requirement.

Most of the NASA funding must be used to support the student stipend and the student department should provide the supplies needed for research activities. NASA funds may not be used for the purchase of equipment or foreign travel.

In preparing your budget, you should have at minimum, a section each for stipend, travel, and supplies.

Stipend: Rate of pay is at least $20 an hour, but you may use the prevailing rate in your department if it is higher. It is acceptable to have all funds in stipend. Pay can be for summer only or can include summer and academic year.

Travel funds (if requested): identify an actual or potential conference to attend (virtually or in- person) and it can be local, regional, or national. Provide a breakdown of your travel costs to include airfare or car (mileage or rental car), per diem, and hotel costs. Student must provide a copy of presentation/venue information to the Space Grant office and verify travel costs as part of their final report.

Supplies: Identify what supplies you will need to purchase for your project from the grant or if you are using funds supplied by your mentor as cost share; if the supplies are not being used as cost share, do not list them and simply note “no materials budget needed”. In the case of no materials budget needed, it is assumed and expected that the faculty mentor’s lab will furnish all needed supplies and supplies are not being used to meet cost share. Example level of detail: $500 for consumables and reagents that are necessary for quantification of soil enzymes associated with the cycling and storage of C, N and P; $1000 is requested for reagents associated with molecular sample preparations (e.g., DNA extraction, purification, and quantification, PCR amplification – research advisor funding as cost share).

Essay: The applicant will also be required to submit a short essay. In 600 words or less the applicant should address the following items:

  • Applicant’s research experience and career interests
  • Applicant’s plans for sharing research findings through participation in professional conferences and/or publication.
  • Acknowledgement of prior WVSGC funding and brief description of previous projects funded.
  • List extracurricular activities, leadership experiences and accomplishments, and academic and/or work achievements.

The applicant will also upload their resume and an unofficial transcript or a PDF statement of your graduate level STEM courses that you took and the grade. Optional text to include, in less than 500 characters please tell us if there is anything else you want us to know about your GPA. Note that if you are within your first 1-2 years of graduate school, please include your overall undergraduate GPA here.

The Consortium will award these grants based on the following criteria:

  • Soundness, innovation, and technical merit of the proposed research (60 points)
  • Student’s academic and extracurricular achievements (30 points)
  • Budget and plans for dissemination and publicizing of the results (10 points)

Proposals must be submitted online only. Proposals received after the deadline will not be considered Graduate student applicants must complete the online application here.

Navy Blue quotation mark

When I was 3, my mom asked if I wanted to become an astronaut – I said no; I wanted to be the person counting down from 10…

– Robert “Casey” Wilson, West Virginia University, 2014-2018