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Charles Center Faculty-Mentored Research Incubator


The Charles Center is pleased to announce an incubator program to support new models of faculty-mentored student research. We have traditionally supported undergraduate research via a student-centered process in which proposals for summer funding are submitted to the Charles Center by individual students working with a single mentor. While continuing this popular program, we seek to develop new models of student research that may not be well-suited to the traditional process.

We wish to encourage research that is done by collaborative teams, is more aligned with faculty interests, has the potential to be self-sustaining in the future, and is consistent with Vision 2026 goals for W&M.

Possible examples of new models include: collaborative teams of students working across disciplinary boundaries with multiple faculty members; a group of students attacking a single problem together as a “lab” in the Humanities; or a student-faculty pairing working with an external partner to address pressing societal needs. In contrast to the student-driven summer research grant application, incubator proposals will be written by faculty, who will be responsible for recruiting their research students. Projects selected for the incubator will receive student summer research stipends for 2 years along with a small research fund.

Aligned with Vision 2026 goals, the incubator encourages innovative faculty-mentored research with undergraduates that may:
Expand W&M’s Reach by:
  • producing consequential results with community or global impacts
  • expanding the base of our research ecosystem through novel approaches to mentoring, especially by engaging new external partners such as alumni or industry experts
Educate for Impact through:
  • blending classroom and hands-on research activities in new ways
  • easing access to opportunities so that every student has a chance to participate
Evolve to Excel in:
  • sub-disciplines not currently providing many undergraduate research opportunities
  • areas that enhance environmental sustainability of the campus and financial sustainability for our research programs
Incubator Projects

Projects will be selected from faculty proposals that include research with, ideally, three or more undergraduates, who do not need to be named in the proposal. Funding will be $10,000 annually for two years in the form of $3,000 stipends for each of the three undergraduates (or a pro-rated amount for teams of different sizes). Students will work full time for 7 or more weeks in each of the two summers with a faculty member on one project or a set of related questions. Stipends can be awarded to the same or different students each summer. Funding also includes $1,000 annually for supplies, travel, etc. (not summer salary) for the project, to be spent by the faculty mentor in conjunction with the Charles Center. These funds will be available on July 1 and must be expended by the following May 1.

The first round of funding is for summers 2022 and 2023. Funding for 2023 is contingent upon fulfillment of recruitment, mentoring, and reporting goals. The faculty mentor is expected to seek extramural funding or to work with their students on standard internal research-funding applications after the two-year funding period.

Incubator Application Process (Due by 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022)

Interested TE or continuing NTE faculty should submit a CV and a research proposal that is 2-3 pages in length, not including any of the necessary references or relevant graphics. The proposal must include a description of research objectives, a clear plan for involving undergraduate researchers, and an explanation of the novelty of the research model. If colleagues or external experts are involved, their CVs should be included as well. Submit the proposal as a single PDF attachment to [[charlescenter]], with the subject line “Incubator Proposal” and the faculty member’s last name as the first word of the proposal filename. The deadline for submission is Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, at 5 pm. Application questions may be directed to Dan Cristol [[dacris]], Director of Faculty-Mentored Undergraduate Research.

Funding Criteria 
All applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:
  • clear, compelling research proposal
  • strong faculty research track record, as evidenced by the CV
  • well-defined plans for student recruitment and student research mentoring
  • novel and innovative research model for the faculty mentor's sub-discipline
Applications will be given more favorable consideration if they include some of the following attributes:
  • high number of student research opportunities both during and beyond the two-year funding period
  • clear path to sustainable funding
  • inclusion of external partners who may provide expertise or additional funding
  • collateral benefits for classroom teaching
  • benefits for campus inclusion and sustainability efforts
  • likelihood of high-impact findings, particularly those with public impact
  • expansion of currently available research opportunities on campus to new disciplines or groups of student
  • interdisciplinarity or multidisciplinarity