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Courtwright Award for Undergraduate Research Excellence

The Courtwright Award for Undergraduate Research Excellence seeks to recognize undergraduate students with majors in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences who go above and beyond normal expectations for independent undergraduate research and creative work.  Each recipient of the Courtwright Award will receive $500 in addition to the normal $1,000 Undergraduate Research Award. 


2021 Courtwright Award recipients

The spring 2021 recipient of the Courtwright Award for Undergraduate Research Excellence is Jade Groobman.  Jade's project is titled “Jews of Color: Experiences of Exclusion and Inclusion,” and is mentored by Sarah Deer in women, gender, and sexuality studies.

The other finalists for the Courtwright Award for Spring 2021 are:

  • Saron Demeke, “Change in Hyper-Palatable Food Prevalence in US Food Environment over 30 Years,” mentored by Tera Fazzino, psychology
  • Laura Phillips, “Drought Tolerance on B73 Maize in Response to Microbiome Inoculations,” mentored by Maggie Wagner, ecology and evolutionary biology
  • Katherine Price, “The Everyday Negotiation of Citizenship in the French Empire,” mentored by Andrew Denning, history



Courtwright Award details

Courtwright Award recipients are selected from each of the two UGRA competitions held each year (for spring awards and for summer/fall awards).  As part of the review process of UGRA proposals each competition, reviewers select a list of Courtwright Award finalists.  These finalists then provide a two-page report 2/3 of the way through the semester in which they receive the UGRA with an update on research progress and plans to present their projects.  The Courtwright Award winner(s) are then selected from the group of finalists.  Courtwright Award winners for the entire preceding year are also recognized at the Undergraduate Research Symposium each spring.

  • Eligibility: To be eligible for this supplementary award, students must have declared a major in a department that is part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.  Students who are double-majoring are eligible, so long as one of the majors is in the College. Courtwright Awards are meant for students in any department in the College, including the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. 
  • How to apply: Students who meet the eligibility requirement are automatically entered into consideration to be a Courtwright Award finalist through the normal UGRA application process.  No additional application materials are required.  Courtwright Award finalists will turn in a report 2/3 of the way through the award period.
  • Selection criteria:
    • To be selected as a finalist:
      • From the UGRA proposal: Reviewers will be looking for students proposals that go “above and beyond” normal expectations for undergraduate work at all levels of the rubric used to evaluate UGRA proposals, including the students’ preparation for the field of research and the description of a project that is both original and methodologically rigorous.  
      • From the question on the application form about plans to present the research/creative project: In addition to the normal UGRA evaluation criteria, reviewers will be looking for projects that have the potential to reach a wider audience through such means as conference posters and presentations, print and digital media, and/or thesis or dissertation chapters, should the student pursue graduate study.
    • To be selected as a Courtwright Award winner from the group of finalists:
      • Finalists for the Courtwright Award will provide an update on their research progress and plans to present their research 2/3 of the way through the semester in which they receive the award. Reviewers will look at these reports for evidence of the student’s progress on their research projects and their fulfillment of the evaluation criteria outlined above.
  • Award dispersal: The $500 Courtwright Awards can be dispersed as a scholarship or via check.  Funds can be used for such things as research expenses, research-related travel, and personal expenses (such as rent, food, offset, etc.).

UGRA Quick Links

To apply:

  • Student Application Deadline: March 25, 2021, 11:59 PM; UGRA Student Application Form>>
  • Mentor Reference Deadline: March 29, 2021, 11:59 PM; mentor will be emailed link to reference form when student fills out UGRA application

For award recipients:

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Research teaches critical thinking and problem solving — top skills sought by employers
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More than 1,200 students have received Undergraduate Research Awards since 1986
KU's first valedictorian, Flora Richardson, conducted research as an undergraduate before graduating in 1873
Use research to apply what you learned in the classroom to a real problem
Students who perform research develop strong relationships with KU faculty
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