$1 million in support for research, conference presentation travel available to graduate students this year

By Meghan Chua


The 2018-19 Student Research Grants Competition (SRGC) is open now for UW–Madison graduate students.

SRGC awards are available for students seeking financial support to present at a conference or to travel and conduct research.

For the upcoming academic year, the Graduate School received a generous allocation from the Vilas Trust, one of the primary supporters of the SRGC competition, providing over $1 million in travel funding for graduate students. It’s the largest allocation the Vilas Trust has ever provided the Graduate School for travel awards.

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) also provides funding for SRGC awards.

All graduate students in traditional master’s and doctoral programs supported by the Graduate School are eligible for SRGC travel funds this year due to the increased funding. Dissertators and final-year MFA students are especially encouraged to apply.

“Opening the competition for all Graduate School students will allow for greater professional development opportunities to a broader range of students,” said Fellowship Director Cassandra Rademaekers. “Students who are planning to travel for research, or to present at a conference, should take advantage of this support opportunity.”

SRGC conference award applications are reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the fiscal year, with awards announced every two months. Awards range from $300 to $1,200.  SRGC research awards are awarded on a quarterly basis, and are reviewed by a peer research review committee.  Award amounts range from $300 to $1,200, with a limited number of $1,500 awards available to dissertators for international research travel.

For more information on SRGC awards, including detailed eligibility, application instructions, and frequently asked questions, visit grad.wisc.edu/funding/grants-competition. Students can apply for SRGC awards multiple times but can only receive one award per fiscal year.

Students weigh in on the impact of SRGC

SRGC awards support student travel for research or to present at a conference. Here are two grad students’ stories about how their SRGC-supported travel made an impact on their professional development and research.

Brandon Taitt, Conference Presentation Funds

Brandon Taitt
Brandon Taitt

Taitt attended the 255th National American Chemical Society meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was the first chemistry-related conference of his career, and he gave a presentation on his research to an audience of fellow scientists.

“This was my first professional presentation, and I learned a lot through the process of preparing and delivering the key concepts of my work in a way that was accessible to the general scientific community,” he said.

Attending the conference also helped him take steps toward developing his professional portfolio for networking and job seeking, as well as deepen his understanding of his field.

“Having the opportunity to be exposed to the wide variety of different approaches toward sustainable biomass conversion that exist in my field was encouraging and motivating,” Taitt said. “It also gave me a sense of greater context as to how my current work fits into the bigger picture of sustainability and green chemistry.”

J. Leigh Garcia, Research Travel Award

J. Leigh Garcia in San Juan, Texas, at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Garcia’s research took her to the U.S. and Mexico border in Texas. She visited historic sites and wildlife management areas and state parks that are popular border crossing areas for undocumented immigrants.

She also visited the Old Hidalgo Pump House Museum, the site of a border fence.

“I was able to walk right up to the Mexico-U.S. border wall to take photographs and sketches where immigrants are known to hide and wait for days at a time before climbing the border wall. Next to the border wall, I found two hand-made ladders with rope tied to them, evidence of unauthorized border crossings,” she said.

During her travels, Garcia also met with local organizations that work with undocumented immigrants, creating relationships that she is excited to further grow.

“My trip to the border has given me confidence to continue making work about undocumented immigration, as well as real-life experience in borderland terrain crossed by immigrants,” Garcia said.