Senior Christina Sluka found out early summer of last year about a workshop that would help her prepare for a fellowship program that could help pay for her graduate research study.
The Cox Research Scholar’s previous mentorship with faculty members, Collin Allen, from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine, and Dr. Jonathon Crystal from the College of Arts & Sciences Cognitive Science Program, prepared her for the competitive fellowship program.
Early into her career, Sluka expressed great interest in animal cognition and behavior.
Coming across the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, she decided to apply. At a loss for how to tackle the application, Kody Steffy, IU Undergraduate Research Director offered a workshop during the first eight weeks of the fall semester that would help break down the do’s and don'ts of the application process.
The workshop would guide potential applicants on what information they should provide in their statements and extra information about the fellowship. The workshop also connected students with previously selected winners for support.
“If the workshops continue, make sure to go every week,” Sluka said. “It keeps you accountable and makes sure you’re on plan.”
Sluka recognized that the NSF would be a great opportunity, especially since she had a clear understanding of her interest in animal cognition and behavior. Talking to cognitive research professors as a junior helped her.
The NSF supports accomplished students like Sluka as they pursue a research-based masters or doctoral degree at an accredited U.S. institution.
“The application process is quite intense,” Sluka said. A critical part of the application process is making sure that the statements needed for the applications have been looked at by various set of eyes.
“You’re not going to get a perfect draft on the first try,” she said.
Students interested in applying should be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or permanent residents and plan to study in a U.S. university.
The fellowship seeks students committed to research and committed to grad school. The application process doesn’t formally require research experience, but getting that experience early on can set applicants apart.
“Create relationships with younger faculty,” Sluka said. These relationships can often create research opportunities for students.
The fellows benefit from a generous, three-year stipend to cover the cost of education, giving recipients the opportunity to conduct their research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education.
Sluka encourages those applying to make sure they have a clear idea of what interests them. She also suggests that undergraduates interested in graduate school start doing research early.
“If you can start early, do it,” she said. “A few years out, getting research experience goes a long way.”
Deadlines are in October, and the application process is critical in getting accepted for the fellowship.
“You’re gonna have wished you started earlier,” Sluka said.
Students can apply for the fellowship two times, one as an undergrad and one as a graduate student.
After being selected this past semester, Sluka will be attending the University of Wyoming for grad school studying zoology and ecology.
IU Undergraduate plans to offer these workshops again this fall. Interested students can email Kody Steffy at firstname.lastname@example.org.