UConn Research, Provost’s Office Launch Student-Centric Sustainability Initiative

Offices announce PRISMATIC: The President’s Research Investment in Sustainability Measures, Actions, Technologies, Initiatives, and Communities

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities has honored UConn's leadership in economic and innovational impact.

UConn Research and the Provost’s Office are funding a series of initiatives designed to create new opportunities and expand successful student programs in environmental sustainability.

PRISMATIC – the President’s Research Investment in Sustainability Measures, Actions, Technologies, Initiatives, and Communities –  launched in October, with funding opportunities available to undergraduate students. The initiative supports President Radenka Maric’s pledge to reduce UConn’s carbon footprint steadily and reach a state of carbon neutrality by 2030, as well as the Board of Trustees’ declaration affirming the University’s commitment to sustainability.

“UConn is fortunate to have both an administration committed to environmental sustainability and remarkable students who are eager and able to meet the unprecedented challenges that face their generation,” says Pamir Alpay, vice president for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. “PRISMATIC provides funding avenues for those students to demonstrate their mettle and brilliance.”

Additionally, PRISMATIC reinforces the research strengths that have become a hallmark of UConn’s enterprise. Hundreds of faculty members have dedicated their own research to climate change mitigation, clean energy, and creating a more sustainable future. These include projects in partnership with industrial leaders across the state and experts from national laboratories.

“UConn is fortunate to have top-tier faculty who have made extraordinary advancements in the fields of sustainability and climate change,” says Provost Anne D’Alleva. “PRISMATIC is a fantastic opportunity for our undergraduate students to engage in impactful research and establish mentoring relationships with faculty. The program is an excellent example of the transformative educational experiences that a leading research university like UConn can provide for students.”

Through PRISMATIC, UConn undergraduate students will join their professors and graduate researchers at the heart of the effort to develop deeper understanding and innovative solutions to challenges created by climate change. UConn scholars play a critically important role in identifying needs and opportunities, designing and executing initiatives, and developing creative solutions related to sustainability. These programs are designed to challenge students through engagement in experiential learning as they propose and execute projects and complete apprenticeships alongside experienced researchers.

UConn Research and the Provost’s Office are committing $50,000 to support students’ engagement in sustainability projects through the following Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) programs:

SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fund) Awards: Awards of up to $4,500 to support an undergraduate student’s full-time engagement in a summer research or creative project.

UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship Program – Change Grants: $2,000 grants to support social impact projects led by individual students or small groups working collaboratively.

UConn IDEA Grants: Grants of up to $5,000 per student to support student-designed, student-led projects, including community service initiatives, entrepreneurial ventures, creative endeavors, and research projects. Applications are accepted from individuals and small groups of undergraduates.

SHARE Summer Virtual Apprenticeships: The SHARE Summer program provides undergraduates majoring in the social sciences, humanities, and arts with opportunities to work remotely on faculty-mentor-led projects over the summer, earning up to $1,400. This program prioritizes early career students with little to no prior research experience.

OUR Research Travel Awards: Awards of up to $500 for travel to conduct research, such as travel to consult materials in an archive or work with equipment in a national lab.

OUR Supply Awards: Awards of up to $500 to cover expenses for supplies and consumables associated with an undergraduate student’s research or creative project.

PRISMATIC is intended to support a broad spectrum of experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate students. In addition to inquiry projects across the academic disciplines, these funding programs support a diverse range of advocacy, service, design, and community engagement projects that will allow students to pursue knowledge and act in furtherance of equitable sustainability.

“Office of Undergraduate Research funding programs are designed to offer a range of supports to students, from smaller awards for supplies to larger grants that allow for sustained immersion in a project,” says Caroline McGuire, executive director of enrichment programs. “Students’ creativity defines what is possible. We hope students will come talk with OUR advisors about their innovative ideas and the programs that will be the best fit for those pursuits.”

The Office of Undergraduate Research will assess the suitability of all projects supported through these programs for PRISMATIC funding. Each of these programs is open to applications from UConn undergraduates at all campuses; additional eligibility requirements vary by program and are listed on the program webpages linked above. Please contact OUR at our@uconn.edu with any questions about PRISMATIC or OUR’s funding programs.