Robert Welch Foundation grant renewal increases student research stipends

PLAINVIEW – Wayland Baptist University is the recipient of a three-year $120,000 grant from the Robert Welch Foundation — a renewal and expansion of the highly successful Welch Summer Research Program.

The grant provides $40,000 per year to fund undergraduate chemistry research, according to Dr. Robert Moore, Professor of Chemistry, who serves as program director. A program of the Kenneth L. Maddox School of Mathematics and Sciences since 2005, Moore said 59 Wayland students have participated in the Welch Summer Research Program for one to three years.

“Almost 90 percent of those who have participated and graduated have continued into science or related careers,” Moore said. “More than half have already earned advanced degrees.

“From 2005 to 2017, the grant funded $25,000 per year,” he said. “This was increased to $28,000 in 2018, and this year we were awarded $40,000 per year, an increase of almost 50 percent.”

The program director said the increase was much needed and appreciated.

“We will be able to accept more students into the program and increase their summer pay to $4,000 for the eight weeks of research. That’s up from $3,500 for the past few years, and $3,000 before that,” he said.

“Wayland’s School of Mathematics and Sciences continues to be highly successful in the realm of undergraduate student research,” said Dr. Cindy McClenagan, Vice President of Academic Affairs. “It is truly one of Wayland’s chief academic distinctives, as evidenced by our students winning multiple awards each year at the Texas Academy of Sciences.”

Along with the increased funding, the Robert Welch Foundation doubled the limit of what could be used per year toward travel to $5,000.

“This will also allow us to plan attendance to the National American Chemical Society Meeting each year — a trip that is typically cost-prohibitive,” Moore said. “The Welch Foundation has also encouraged us to bring students to the annual conference in Houston, which we hope to begin doing as well.”

Chemistry programs can apply for funding for three years and then must apply for renewal. Wayland has been a recipient of this grant continuously since 2005.

“We use the money to fund an undergraduate research program that involves a competitive application in the Fall semester,” Moore explained.

If selected, a student is paired with a research adviser to identify a research question. During the Spring semester, the student and research adviser plan the student’s research. The student then returns to campus for eight weeks in the summer, working full time in the research area selected.

Wayland’s renewal application was due in September. Moore and his team provided information about the program, a description of research results from the concluding grant cycle, and a proposal for the next three years of research.

McClenagan said the increase in funding ensures students will continue to complete research at a level not seen at most undergraduate institutions in Texas

“Our faculty are to be commended for their dedication to hands-on undergraduate research at Wayland,” she said.