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Solving complex problems through research is what we do

That’s why you’ll find a variety of opportunities at the college, university, and national levels for making research more accessible, locating seed funds that can help you get started, and competing for funds from federal agencies.

For other research information and resources ranging from trainings to compliance to data protection, make Virginia Tech’s Office of Research and Innovation your first stop. In particular, visit the Research Development Resources section.

Start your search for funding in the college

Bill Hopkins

The College of Natural Resources and Environment offers a variety of grants designed to increase access to research and presentation opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. There is also a fund to support innovative teaching activities, as well as an application process for satellite beacons to help researchers stay safe in the field.

Read the information below carefully, and make sure you note the application windows for each grant. Questions about any CNRE funding opportunity? Email Associate Dean Keith Goyne.

CNRE Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Undergraduate research fellowships allow students to develop and carry out a unique research project or expand upon an existing project while collaborating with a faculty mentor. Students can request up to $2,500 to support a research project they will complete during one semester or one academic year. 

The application window is in the spring. Interested students should read the information below carefully and talk with a faculty member before starting an application.

Are you naturally curious? Do you like an intellectual challenge? Would you like extra time in the lab or field to learn new skills? Are you interested in gaining a competitive advantage for employment or graduate studies after graduation? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, undergraduate research may be for you. 

Undergraduate research provides students with an opportunity to engage in scientific inquiry under the guidance of a faculty mentor. You’ll learn more about a topic that interests you and improve your skills related to scientific inquiry and research like writing scientific objectives, testing hypotheses, developing or implementing rigorous scientific protocols and analyses, analyzing data, interpreting results, and communicating your findings. 

Students selected for an undergraduate research fellowship and their faculty research mentors can receive up to $2,500 to support a project that will be completed during the fall semester, the spring semester, or an academic year. Approximately eight undergraduate student fellowships will be funded each academic year.

Allowable expenses include wages for the undergraduate researcher, materials and supplies, analysis costs, travel, and other expenses that may be necessary to support the planned research.

Under the guidance of faculty mentors, students may develop a unique research project or expand upon an existing project. Regardless of the approach, student and faculty collaborators must communicate and agree upon a project and budget before submitting an application. 

Prior student research experience is not required. Students who are selected for the grants can earn undergraduate research credits while working on their projects if desired. Those who are interested in earning credit should talk with their faculty research mentors and advisors to learn more. 

Funding for this program is provided by the Acorn Alcinda Foundation and the college.

In order to apply for a CNRE Undergraduate Research Fellowship, you must be an undergraduate student in good academic standing enrolled in a major offered by the College of Natural Resources and Environment. Your faculty mentor must also be from the college.  

Preference will be given to sophomores and juniors who have not completed an undergraduate research project. Students from underrepresented populations (e.g., Black or African American, Hispanic, Indigenous, and people of color) and underserved populations (e.g., first-generation, LGBTQ+, Pell Grant eligible, students with disabilities, and veterans) are strongly encouraged to apply. Students may only receive support from this program once during their academic career at Virginia Tech.

If selected for a fellowship, a student must:

  • Remain enrolled in a major offered by the College of Natural Resources and Environment and be completing coursework at Virginia Tech toward their degree during the semester(s) for which funding is requested.
  • Work with the faculty mentor identified in the application to further refine, implement, and execute the funded research project.
  • Complete 135 hours of work toward the undergraduate research project by the end of the funded semester(s).
  • Maintain good academic standing throughout the academic year when the research project is taking place.
  • Present their research findings at the Dennis Dean Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship Conference held at Virginia Tech.
  • Submit a one-page summary of the research to Associate Dean Keith Goyne ( by December 8 (fall projects) or May 3 (spring or two-semester projects).

Faculty mentors working with a student researcher must agree to:

  • Complete a form prior to the application deadline, acknowledging their willingness to mentor the student and guide the proposed research project.
  • Help the student researcher refine, implement, and execute the funded research project.
  • Assist the student with the development of a budget and the appropriate expenditure of awarded funds in support of the research project.
  • Meet regularly with their undergraduate researcher to discuss project progress and findings and to assist with the development of a professional presentation and a one-page summary on the research findings.

To apply, complete the student application form through DocuSign. All application materials, including the faculty mentor form, must be submitted in late spring during the application window noted below:

  • Application opens: March 4, 2024
  • Application closes: May 1, 2024

Prior to starting the application, students are encouraged to do/prepare the following for inclusion in the application:

  • Speak with a potential faculty mentor about their availability and willingness to mentor an undergraduate researcher and discuss potential research topics.
  • Develop a title for the proposed research project.
  • Write a brief description of the proposed research (250 words maximum).
  • Write a brief description of their interest in the topic (100 words maximum).
  • Write a brief description of how participating in undergraduate research connects with their future educational or career goals (100 words maximum).
  • Develop a budget for the project (up to $2,500 maximum) in collaboration with their faculty mentor. Budget categories include wages, materials and supplies, analysis costs, travel expenses, and other costs. A dollar amount will need to be entered on the application form for each of these categories.
  • Download an electronic copy of their unofficial transcript from HokieSPA.
  • Coordinate the completion of forms with their faculty mentor. Once the student completes the application form, the faculty mentor will receive an email from DocuSign, notifying them that the faculty mentor form is available for completion (faculty mentors must complete the mentor form before the application deadline above).

Proposals from eligible undergraduate students will be reviewed by a committee appointed through the Office of the Dean. Applications from individuals who do not meet eligibility requirements and incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Proposals will be selected for funding based on: 

  • Quality and merit of the proposed research.
  • Student interest in the project.
  • Connection of undergraduate research to the applicant’s educational or career goals.
  • Preference for sophomores and juniors.
  • Preference for students who have not previously participated in undergraduate research.

Funds to cover research costs will be transferred to the faculty mentor’s departmental account immediately after each student is notified that they have received an award. Faculty mentors and departments are responsible for (1) completing all paperwork necessary to hire and pay student researchers an hourly wage from these funds and (2) accounting for all funds and their expenditure in support of the project.

Students are responsible for meeting with representatives from the Office of University Scholarships and Financial Aid to learn how wages associated with the fellowship may impact their financial status and eligibility for financial aid.

CNRE Graduate Travel Grant

The presentation of research findings at state, regional, national, and international scientific meetings and conferences is critical for the professional development of graduate students completing research-based degree programs. The delivery of poster and oral presentations allows students to receive feedback on their research projects, improve communication skills, and develop a professional network. The college offers a grant program to assist with the costs associated with traveling to meetings and conferences to present findings and to help ensure these opportunities are accessible to all students. 

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year, and eligible students can receive one award per year.

To be eligible for this award, the applicant must be a graduate student currently enrolled in a research-based degree program housed within the College of Natural Resources and Environment. Students completing graduate degrees in programs outside of CNRE may be eligible for funding if their primary graduate advisor is a CNRE faculty member and the faculty member’s department head approves the request. The applicant must also present findings of research conducted at Virginia Tech and as part of their graduate degree program at a scientific conference or meeting. 

Students may only receive one travel grant from the college per academic year. Individuals from underrepresented populations (e.g., Black or African American, Hispanic, Indigenous, and people of color) and underserved populations (e.g., first-generation, LGBTQ+, students with disabilities, and veterans) are strongly encouraged to apply.

To apply, complete the application form through DocuSign. Applications may be submitted at any time during the fiscal year (July 1 to June 30); however, you must submit your application at least two weeks before your planned travel. Completed applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis or until all available funds have been spent.

Prior to starting the application, graduate students are encouraged to have the following information readily available for inclusion in the application:

  • Details about the conference (conference name, location, start and end dates, and web address) and how you will participate (virtual or in-person).
  • Presentation title and mode of delivery (oral or poster presentation).
  • Proof of abstract submission or acceptance for uploading.
  • Graduate advisor’s name and email address.
  • Costs associated with travel: conference registration; abstract submission fees; personal vehicle mileage; airfare, train, or bus ticket; rental vehicle; parking; per diem rates for lodging, meals, and incidentals by location obtained from U.S. General Services Administration Per Diem Rates; and other travel expenses.
  • Information about other funds available to support your travel (support from graduate advisor, department, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate Travel Fund program, etc.)

Once the student has submitted the application, their graduate advisor will receive an electronic notification informing them that an application for a travel grant has been submitted and requesting that they verify the student’s participation in a conference.

Proposals will be reviewed by the Office of the Dean to ensure the student is eligible and the application is complete. Funds will be distributed in the order that completed applications are received. Applications that are from individuals who do not meet eligibility requirements or are incomplete will not be considered for funding.

Due to differences in the timing of conferences among disciplines represented within the college, the total pool of available funding will be evenly divided between the four departments. This will ensure that students enrolled in disciplines holding annual conferences late in the academic year will not be at a disadvantage. Additional subdivisions of funds will occur as needed to ensure all students receive the same opportunity for funding.

Funds will be transferred to a departmental account immediately after a student is notified that they have received an award. Once funds have been transferred, department heads and administrative assistants will receive a list of students receiving funding and the amount allotted to each student. Graduate students should then work with department administrative assistants to complete the documents required for travel reimbursement. 

CNRE Instructional Support Fund

Quality teaching and learning experiences for both students and faculty are top priorities for the college. Funds are available from the college to support the instructional activities of faculty for the fall and spring semesters. This fund addresses instruction needs not addressed by the Higher Education Equipment Trust Fund.

To apply, submit a proposal during one of the two annual application windows:

  • Fall and Winter semesters funding: Application opens the third Monday in February and closes the first Friday in April.
  • Spring and Summer semesters funding: Application opens the third Monday in September and closes the last Monday in October.

It is anticipated that three to five requests for assistance will be funded from a total funding pool of $15,000; each request for assistance should not exceed $5,000. Funds must be spent by end of the semester, and any unspent money will be returned to the college for reinvestment in the Instructional Support Fund. Continuance of this initiative is predicated on the availability of funds each fiscal year.

Funding is available to support faculty participating in the delivery of undergraduate and graduate courses offered in traditional settings (classroom and laboratory) and online during the fall and spring semesters. The strategic purposes of this fund are to (1) acquire materials, supplies, software, and other resources that directly facilitate student learning and accessibility and (2) to support faculty training in pedagogy and the development of innovative teaching techniques through participation in workshops and related activities.

The fund is not intended to support the attendance of professional society meetings or to support stipends or travel for invited speakers. Faculty may submit one request for assistance per semester.

Proposals will be reviewed by an appropriate standing committee of the CNRE Faculty Association or a committee appointed by the dean. Proposals will be funded based on their relevance to sustaining or enhancing the instructional mission of CNRE, the merit of the request, the scope of impact (e.g., number of students benefiting from the investment), and other aspects of need and/or benefit. Leveraging funds from other campus sources is encouraged, and demonstration of matching funds is mandatory when overall costs exceed the maximum grant amount of $5,000 for this fund.

A very brief report is required for funded requests. The report should include (1) A brief narrative of less than one page regarding the use of the funds and their educational impact and (2) Receipts for purchases. Reports must be submitted to the associate dean no later than four weeks after the semester ends. Failure to submit a report will inhibit future funding. Any changes to the original proposal must be approved by the associate dean.

To apply, complete and submit the PDF form to Associate Dean Goyne. Use Adobe Acrobat to fill out the downloaded form.

CNRE Satellite Beacon Program

This program allows individuals to borrow a Garmin InReach satellite messenger and personal locator beacon to enhance the safety of students, staff, and faculty during field research activities. The units are available for loan during an entire semester or monthly. 

For more information on Garmin InReach units and their capabilities, visit their website.

The faculty member supervising the research project will assume all costs and responsibilities associated with activation/deactivation fees, monthly usage and overage fees, and the replacement or repair of damaged units.

The cost to activate a beacon is $29.95 per unit, and monthly plan costs vary from $14.95 to $64.95 per month, plus applicable taxes (prices are subject to change; see Garmin’s website for current pricing).

Since the college has a limited number of units (three), CNRE will distribute these based on field safety needs and financial circumstances.

  1. Submit an application for each semester or period that you wish to borrow a unit. Applications must be submitted during the following windows:
    1. Fall semester: Application opens the third Monday in September and closes the last Monday in October.
    2. Spring semester: Application opens the third Monday in February and closes the last Monday in March.
  2. Download and fill out the application form and sign the user agreement. Staff, graduate students, and undergraduate researchers can submit an application with written permission from their faculty supervisor/advisor.
  3. Send the application and user agreement to Associate Dean Keith Goyne.
  4. If approved, applicants are responsible for coordinating unit pick up and return with the CNRE IT Department.
  5. Each time a Garmin InReach unit is borrowed, the faculty member or their designee will need to set up and activate a plan from the Garmin website. These plans will be charged to the supervising faculty member’s selected research account.
  6. When finished with the unit, the faculty member or their designee must deactivate the plan and ensure that the unit is returned to the CNRE IT Department.

Find support for your research through university investment institutes

Research funding opportunities are incredibly competitive, so how do you obtain the seed funding needed to help you collect preliminary data or explore a new collaboration or a novel approach to a complex problem?

Virginia Tech’s investment institutes fuel research and faculty development by investing in high-risk and high-reward projects, providing unique shared research facilities, training faculty, and convening thought leaders. Operating through the Office for Research and Innovation, the investment institutes help faculty from across campus form transdisciplinary teams, compete for external funding, and influence the profile of the research enterprise.

Two people stand in front of a coastal marsh on a cloudy day.

Three CNRE faculty — Ashley Dayer (at left), Elizabeth Hunter (at right), and Valerie Thomas (not pictured) — are taking on the challenge of sea-level rise and how these changes will impact landscapes and coastal communities in Virginia in the coming decades.

The researchers used findings from a university seed grant to obtain NASA funding that will allow them to use satellite imagery to detect where landscape change is happening from sea-level rise and then help landowners adapt in response.

Searching for outside funding sources? Start here.

Virginia Tech’s Office of Research and Innovation and Office of Sponsored Programs both offer searchable databases to help researchers identify sources of support such as federal agencies, state and local government sources, industry, and private foundations.