Graduate Student Awards

We are pleased to announce the 2016-2017 MBB Graduate Student Awards, intended to help graduate students better understand MBB-related issues by engaging in interdisciplinary experiences. Whether you are currently involved in interdisciplinary work or are planning to start a new interdisciplinary endeavor, all Harvard graduate students in MBB-related fields are encouraged to apply for funding. The maximum award amount is $10,000, but most awards for research will not exceed $5,000.

This year's application deadlines are October 14, 2016 and February 17, 2017. Students are welcome to apply multiple times; although, in the interest of fairness, awards will likely only be given once per individual.

The types of expenses and experiences we hope to fund include (but are not limited to):

  • Cross-disciplinary experiences: expenses to study or conduct research in a department or lab different from the applicant's current home department. For example, a philosophy graduate student might spend a semester doing research in a psychology or neuroscience lab, or a neuroscientist might initiate a project in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. The “host” department need not be at Harvard, in which case the student may apply for living and/or travel expenses. A $10,000 grant will only be considered for a semester-long or summer research experience, and living expenses will only be provided for away-experiences.

  • Course or conference in another field: registration, travel, tuition, or other relevant funding for a conference or course in an MBB field other than the applicant's primary field. For example, a history of science student might attend a summer course in linguistics, a psychologist could attend a philosophy conference, or a neuroscientist might participate in a cognitive neuroscience workshop. The conference or course itself can also be interdisciplinary - for example, a linguist might attend a conference on computational linguistics. Typically such grants will be for less than $1,000.

  • Interdisciplinary projects: travel, research, or equipment for ongoing projects in interdisciplinary MBB topics. For example, funds could support a project on the psychology of music or applying new computational methods to semantics. Typically such grants will be for less than $5,000.

  • Interdisciplinary research teams: initiating, continuing, or completing collaborative research projects with students in other MBB fields. For example, an evolutionary biology student and an economics student might collaborate on a research project about competition and resource allocation that applies models from economics to an evolutionary problem; a philosopher and a linguist might empirically test a theory from the philosophy of language; psychology and education students might apply insights from cognitive psychology to develop and test an educational intervention. Typically such grants will be for less than $5,000.

  • Research-directed reading groups: initiating reading groups with members from multiple departments, with the aim of producing interdisciplinary research ideas, review papers, or book reviews. A grant might cover reading material (e.g. a book per reading group member) and refreshments at meetings. Typically such grants will be for less than $500.

What counts as interdisciplinary? As fields change, it becomes increasingly difficult to identify what counts as interdisciplinary. MBB encourages applicants who are combining elements of their own field with methods or insights from another field, especially if those methods and insights have not already been appropriated by the student's original field. For example, applying fMRI to the study of attitudes toward minority groups involves a method from cognitive neuroscience and a topic from social psychology, but this combination is already accepted within mainstream psychology. The two or more fields being integrated need not correspond to Harvard departments with MBB representatives. For example, a grant could fund a project on the psychology of film. Two good questions to ask when considering the suitability of a project are “Is this a research-oriented project with elements from more than one discipline?” (the answer should be yes) and “Would this typically be funded within my own department?” (the answer should be no).  If you're not sure, ask us before you apply.

Each applicant will be required to request a specific award amount and to submit an itemized budget of how the award will be used. MBB cannot guarantee that all successful applicants will receive the full award amount.

Award recipients will be expected to submit a brief final written report on their interdisciplinary experience, the fruits of their work, and the insights gained. Students might also be asked to present at an MBB event involving faculty and fellow graduate students.

Download an application and required budget form.

Budget Template12 KB
mbb_2016-2017_grad_app.pdf129 KB
2017_mbb_grad_application_form.pdf55 KB