Manheim-Sterling Undergraduate Research Prizes

Named in honor of two legendary SMPA faculty members, the Manheim-Sterling Undergraduate Research Prizes are designed to support and encourage outstanding mentored undergraduate research and creative work in the School of Media and Public Affairs.

SMPA awards two prizes each academic year, one for a Political Communication (PCM) major and one for a Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) major. Students must have an SMPA faculty mentor or be engaged in collaborative research with an SMPA faculty member to qualify for these awards.

Applications are currently open! Application deadline is November 20 at 11:59pm.


What can be funded?

The awards can be used to fund expenses associated with a mentored research or creative project. For example, a student might apply for funds to travel for interviews and research for reporting, to gather footage for a short documentary, to undertake field research, hire coders or run an experiment, or to travel and present a paper or creative product. The maximum award is $3,000 per project.


What does the faculty mentor do?

Projects must have some level of faculty involvement. This can range from an independent research or reporting project mentored and supervised by a faculty member to a fully collaborative student-faculty project that results in a co-authored paper or story. Students should expect to meet regularly with faculty mentors to seek guidance on the project. The faculty mentor must provide a letter of support indicating the importance of the proposal.


Additional Details

  • There are two prizes awarded each year, one for JMC majors and one for PCM majors. The maximum award is $3,000 per project. Amounts awarded will be based on the budget request and justification. Funds can only be provided for expenses that will be incurred in the course of doing the reporting or research project; funds cannot be used to provide a stipend to the student or reimburse for money spent on a previously completed project. All applications must include a detailed budget and budget justification.
  • What kinds of project ideas get funded? When can the money be used? Mentored research or creative projects eligible for funding can include special honors projects, projects that grow out of a class or independent study, collaborative projects with a faculty member or projects independently conceived by the student. The award must result in a tangible paper, story or creative work, or the presentation of such at a conference or festival. The funding is available for use during the spring semester or summer.

Directions for Applying

  1. Request a note of support from the faculty mentor and submit that with your application. If you don't have access to a scanner you can ask the faculty member to email [email protected] their recommendation note.
  2. Fill out the application form including a document with your project description, outputs, budget and budget justification.