Engaged Learning Starter Award

Engaged Learning Starter Award information

The Engaged Learning Starter Award provides first-year or first-year transfer students up to $500 for expenses related to research project. While based on the capstone Engaged Learning Fellowship, the ELSA is designed to introduce students to research through a smaller-scale, exploratory project.

Application steps

1. Recommended, not required: Find a faculty mentor to sponsor this research. At minimum, they will give you feedback on your initial proposal and your final product. Ideally, they will be available for some consultation and feedback along the way.

2. Create a proposal for your project. We have a template that you can use. Clearly describe the Who-What-When-Where-How.

In the proposal, you may request up to $500 for expenses related to the research. Some examples of expenses:

  • Travel and hotel
  • Bus or Uber transportation to project location
  • Lab materials or equipment
  • Printing flyers or a research poster

3. Email your proposal to engagedlearning@smu.edu by 11:59pm on April 15th.

Review timeline:

It will take 2-3 weeks to review your proposal, so please be patient! We will only be reviewing applications after the April 15th deadline.


For any projects involving human subjects (e.g. surveys, psychology experiments, etc.), you may need to register and complete some training with Research Compliance. If accepted, we will send your proposal to their office on your behalf.

If you receive the Engaged Learning Starter Award, you will be expected to:

  • Attend monthly meetings with Engaged Learning staff
  • Complete two online reflection surveys, due August 15 and December 15
  • Produce a public presentation at the Fall Research Symposium (October, TBD)
  • Submit a “final product” (such as a research paper, website, video) by December 15


  • Alina Munoz: Saludstria: Opening the Gates to Healthcare
  • Ryenne Reiter: The Role of Gender Expectations and Stereotypes in Eating Disorders
  • Alexis Schroeder: Medical Ableism: Neoliberal Stigmatization of Holistic Medicine in the Biomedical System


  • Princess Igwe-Icho: Policies to make SMU a Deaf-friendly community


  • Andrea Reyes: Star Formation and Feedback in Active Galaxies
  • Lillian Rivas: The Tricks of the Trade (Music Composition)
  • Guadalupe Roman: Children, the Face of Immigration


  • Seun Suberu: Comparing the Sports and STEM Interests of Minority Boys
  • Asher Thye: Profile of a Pandemic (Photography)