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SLAS Grant Programs for Outstanding Graduate Students

By Alan E. Fletcher, Ph.D.

Learning is a lifelong endeavor – one of the most important pieces of advice my father shared with me and, in turn, I have shared with my boys as they embark on the post-college careers. The constant pursuit of knowledge is one of the main reasons we participate in professional groups like SLAS.

Being a student pursuing an advanced academic degree, however, is a much shorter period of time. Even those of us who like to  reminisce about our post grad student days can remember many of the stressors – where to attend graduate school, who to study with and how to get things done while still attempting to eat, exercise and sleep (well at least eat) and where to turn for help to locate much need resources.  

True, many Ph.D. programs in the sciences are fully funded, meaning that a selected student’s tuition and healthcare could be covered and a monthly stipend for working in the lab and/or teaching some undergraduate classes can cover basic living expenses. But, will the lab have all the resources you need? Will your lab send you to conferences? Will your PI be able to balance pursuing research funding with their supervisory responsibilities? A lack of resources CANNOT (and should not) stand between us and our dreams.

SLAS Can Help

The SLAS Grant Program was launched in 2015 to fill those gaps. Our initial goal was to establish the SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant Program to reward outstanding students pursuing graduate degrees related to quantitative biosciences and/or life sciences R&D. This program helps to realize a fundamental tenet of SLAS’s mission: to advance the fields of laboratory science and technology by nurturing the next generation of professional scientists.

It’s been highly successful and 2020 will be the fifth year we award this grant! Previous grant winners have been able to reap many benefits from the $100,000 awarded over two years to pursue their research. They’ve also ‘given back’ to SLAS by teaching courses, publishing in the journals, volunteering on committees and mentoring other students – both undergraduate and graduate. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with most of them and I’ve been impressed. They remind me to be passionate about my chosen field. You can learn more about the four previous grant winners by clicking their names in the section below.

SLAS is now accepting applications for the 2020 grant. The grant application process is thorough, so I encourage both professors and Ph.D. candidates to read about eligibility, process and more on the SLAS website. The application deadline for the 2020 award is December 16, 2019.

A second award offered to graduate students is the SLAS Visiting Graduate Researcher Program. It is a newer program and has had one outstanding recipient to date – Kelci Schilly of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS, USA) who spent three months in the lab of Sabeth Verpoorte, Ph.D., at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). Schilly advanced her research in paper-based microfluidics and peptide labeling for mass spectrometric detection and shared knowledge of Kansas’s work with peptides that was of great interest to the Verpoorte lab. In turn, she was able to further examine the use of 3D printing and how it could be applied to the design of easy-to-use components for the analysis of blood samples. She took this new knowledge back home to share with her colleagues and achieve her goals.

I encourage all of our interested students to look into this award, which also has an application deadline of December 16, 2019. Complete details can be found on the SLAS website.

If you believe the SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant Program and SLAS Visiting Graduate Researcher Program might be of interest to you or to a graduate student you know, be sure to pass this along, click the links above or contact SLAS Program Manager Elizabeth Frank if you have further questions.

Also, don’t forget the other ways that SLAS helps students. There are a few weeks left for students, graduate students, postdoctoral associates and junior faculty to submit posters for a possible Tony B. Academic Travel Award (September 16) and/or to compete in the SLAS2020 Student Poster Competition (October 29). Please consider getting involved!

Previous SLAS Graduate Education Fellowship Grant Program Winners

2019: Carine Nemr, B.Sc., University of Toronto

2018: Santosh Paidi, B. Tech., Johns Hopkins University

2017: Julea Vlassakis, B.A., University of California Berkeley

2016: Erik M. Werner, B.E., University of California Irvine

August 26, 2019