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Graduate Student Research Fellowship

Purpose: To entice talented and promising prospective graduate students to enroll in a Ph.D. program at BYU and participate in cancer-focused research. GSRF awardees are expected to raise the bar for BYU cancer research by generating high quality results and mentoring undergraduate students.

Description: The fellowship will provide the awardee a stipend of $35,000 per year for up to three years. Receipt of the funds in years two and three is contingent upon the awardee meeting the following benchmarks:

Year Two:

  • Selection of an SCCR member as research advisor
  • A GPA of 3.6 or higher at the end of the first year
  • A rating of “Satisfactory” in the Annual Progress Review that is conducted by the student’s committee at the end of the first year (Note: since the fellowship will allow the awardee to avoid a TA assignment, it is expected that they will be more productive than a typical first-year graduate student)

Year Three:

  • Continuing to work under the direction of an SCCR member
  • A GPA of 3.6 or higher at the end of the second year
  • A rating of “Satisfactory” in the Annual Progress Review that is conducted by the student’s committee at the end of the second year
  • Co-authorship of at least one manuscript that has been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal OR presentation of research in oral or poster format at a national or international scientific meeting by the end of the second year.

Note: Switching to a research advisor who is not a member of the SCCR or electing to work on a research project that is not cancer-focused (even if the advisor is a member of the SCCR) will result in immediate termination of the fellowship.

GSRF awardees are expected to apply for external fellowships during the third year. These funds could support the awardee during the fourth and fifth years of study.

Selection Process: Graduate admissions committees in participating departments will identify promising candidates from their graduate school applications. These committees will forward the applications of promising GSRF candidates to the SCCR Executive Committee, along with a brief (<1 page) letter explaining why the prospective student is a strong candidate. This letter should include a list of SCCR members who could serve as the candidate’s research advisor. Each department may nominate only one GSRF candidate at a time. The Executive Committee will review the student’s application and the committee’s letter, and then interview selected candidates. After the interview, the Executive Committee will decide whether to offer the fellowship to the candidate.

Since the GSRF is designed to recruit outstanding students who are not already at BYU, candidates should have received their undergraduate education at other institutions. BYU-Idaho and BYU-Hawaii students are eligible for consideration.

Admissions committees are encouraged to nominate GSRF candidates as early in the admissions process as possible. However, the candidate’s graduate school application must be complete prior to consideration by the Executive Committee. This includes the Ecclesiastical Endorsement, as no GSRF offer can be extended to a prospective student unless that student has already received an offer of admission from BYU.

Funding: The GSRF is funded through a partnership between the SCCR and the departments/colleges that host SCCR faculty members. The nature of this partnership differs for each department, as they have different mechanisms for funding graduate students. The cost-sharing agreements that the SCCR has in place with various colleges and departments are listed below. Colleges/Departments that are paying more of the fellow’s stipend will be able to offer GSRF awards to more students (see Prioritization of awards below):

Life Sciences: The three departments in this college that have Ph.D. programs (MMBio, CELL, and Biology) have committed to providing $22,500 per year for the stipend, with the SCCR providing $12,500 per year for the stipend and $2,000 per year to defray the cost of hiring a TA to replace a GSRF fellow.

Total cost to the SCCR over a three-year period: $43,500

Chemistry and Biochemistry: This department has committed to funding half of the stipend ($17,500) in Year 1 and approximately one-fourth of the stipend ($9,000) in Year 3. The SCCR will provide $17,500 in Year 1, $35,000 in Year 2, and $26,000 in Year 3.

Total cost to the SCCR over a three-year period: $78,500

Chemical Engineering: This department has committed to funding $12,500 of the stipend in Year 1. The SCCR will provide the remaining $22,500 in Year 1, and fully fund Years 2 and 3.

Total cost to the SCCR over a three-year period: $92,500

The SCCR does not normally pay tuition costs for GSRF awardees. In some departments, faculty members pay a portion of their graduate students’ tuition. In rare circumstances such as a temporary gap in external funding, the tuition cost for a GSRF awardee might constitute a significant financial burden for an SCCR faculty member. In the event of such a situation, the faculty member can apply to the SCCR for assistance in paying the tuition of a GSRF awardee. If warranted, these requests will be granted for a one-year period, with the expectation that the faculty member will seek additional funds to pay the tuition in any subsequent years remaining on the fellowship.

Prioritization of awards: Departments that provide a higher level of funding will be able to offer more GSRF awards than departments that provide a lower level of funding. In determining funding priorities, the SCCR will determine the amount of its funds that have been spent in the previous two years and are committed to be spent during the current year (three years total) on GSRF awards in each department. This total will be divided by the number of SCCR members in each department to give an average amount of GSRF funding provided per SCCR faculty member. In the event of limited funds or a surplus of candidates, priority will be given to departments with smaller average values.

Number of awards: The number of new GSRF awards in a given year will depend on the number of awards made in the previous two years and the number of Year-Round Fellows that the SCCR is funding. The Center currently has sufficient endowed funds to support a combined total of five students in the GSRF and Year-Round Fellow programs, and it has a goal to raise additional funds to endow two more fellowships of these types. Also, varying amounts of spendable funds are available each year.

Each December, the SCCR Executive Team will meet and consider the following factors: (1) Number of Year-Round Fellows for that academic year

(2) Number of GSRF awardees at each stage of the program (Years 1–3) and their department (the latter determines the amount of support that the SCCR provides)

(3) Amount of spendable funds available for the upcoming calendar year.

The SCCR Executive Team will then decide how many new GSRF awards can be made during the upcoming admissions season and notify the participating admissions committees of this decision. Preliminary decisions regarding the priority of departments for receiving GSRF awards will also be made at this meeting. However, the lack of candidates from a department with priority will allow candidates from departments without priority to be considered.