Funds were distributed for the first time Wednesday for the new Augustana Undergraduate Research and Arts Fellowship Awards (AURAFA) program. The scholarship awards up to $500 toward research and/or artistic endeavors outside the classroom.
The first recipient is Taylor Maier, a senior biology major from Pierre, SD.
“I was very appreciative and excited last week when I found out that I had received the award,” Maier said. “I am grateful to the RSA [Research and Scholarly Activities] committee and program for assisting me in making this exciting opportunity a reality.”
Maier will be using the funds to travel to National American Indians in Science and Engineering (AISES) conference in Anchorage, Alaska, to present his genetics research findings from working in a Sanford lab over the summer.
“I was doing lung pathology and phenotype analysis on mouse models of a rare children’s disease called Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia,” Maier said.
Genetics research will fit with the conference’s theme this year, adaptability. The annual conference provides students with the opportunity to not only share their research, but also learn about opportunities regarding resume building and applying for jobs following graduation.
The RSA faculty committee developed the AURAFA concept over the last month, according to Prof. Mark Larson, the chair of the committee.
The AURAFA program is for students at any level who pursue a project, either research-based or artistic outside the classroom.
“The inspiration comes from the idea that there is a tremendous amount of scholarly and creative work that students are doing that transcends the typical college experience,” Larson said.
“Since we as faculty feel that these projects are some of the most valuable things students take away from their college education and help make their Augustana experience all the more worthwhile, it seemed logical to provide funds so that more students could take part.”
According to Larson, students can apply at any time, but preferably one month prior to beginning their research. Students must have a faculty advisor, but they do not have to work directly with that advisor during their project.
Maier thanks his advisor, prof. Daniel Howard, for helping him apply for the scholarship.
The form is available through a link on Augustana’s academics page online or from any faculty member. Once completed, students submit the application to Larson.
“What we’re looking for isn’t particular kinds of projects,” Larson said, “but rather we want to see something that will expand the student’s knowledge base and gives them a chance to interact with disciplines and expertise well beyond Augie’s borders.”