Museum Student Research Award Program

Purpose: To encourage interest in museum activities by providing support for selected students in museum-related studies, including life sciences, earth sciences, history, anthropology and museum-based education and outreach.

Qualifications: University of Colorado Boulder students with outstanding scholastic record in a related natural history or humanities department. Preference will be given to first time applicants.

Grant Amount: Up to $1,200 for a 12-month period.


Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with a curator of the appropriate Museum Section: Anthropology, Botany, Entomology, Paleontology, Zoology, Museum & Field Studies, or Public Section if they have any questions on the appropriateness of their project. Please check the contact information.

Applications must include a curriculum vitae, unofficial copy of transcript (if student), two letters of recommendation, a detailed budget, and a narrative description of the project (not to exceed three double-spaced pages). Because preference is given to projects focusing on museum and field related studies, students are strongly encouraged to address in their narrative how their study is museum related, benefits the museum community, or involves research that reflects the types of studies conducted by museum researchers.

Please note: Colorado law (HB06S-1023) requires that all students who apply for certain public benefits that entail any payment or financial assistance provide proof that they are lawfully present in the United States. Awardees must be a recipient of student aid, have filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or College Opportunity Fund (COF) application in the past, or have satisfied House Bill 1023 by signing an affidavit of lawful presence and producing a form of identification specified in the law to be able to access the awarded museum funds. See Office of the Registrar FAQ for additional information.

Detailed Budget: Applicants must include a proposal budget and are strongly encouraged to use the following Excel worksheet to document their budget. The Excel worksheet contains instructions and samples to simplify the process.

Budget Worksheet

Equipment or other materials purchased with award monies are property of the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. Project results, such as slides, voucher specimens, and reports shall be offered to and may become property of the Museum.

Deadlines and Timeline: Deadline for application is March 15; notification of awards by April 1. The award period begins May 1 and ends the following May 31 at which time any unspent balance usually reverts to the fund.

Address inquiries and proposals to

Dr. Jaelyn Eberle
Museum Award Committee
University of Colorado Museum of Natural History
218 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0218

Proposal documents, including the budget worksheet provided at the website, can be emailed to Mary Beth Besel, Museum Awards Administrator. Two letters of support can be emailed from letter providers directly to Mary Beth Besel.

Download 2023 Awards Flyer

Previously awarded projects

The Museum funds have supported students in the past by supplementing travel related expenses and by providing funds for general supplies and equipment. These funds have also supported a wide range of field and laboratory related projects and supported student attendance at scientific meetings. Funds are not to be used to support assistants.

Types of projects recently funded:

  • Diversification of Encelia (Asteraceae) in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts.
    Goal: To examine the evolutionary history and relationships of plants in the genus Encelia in the context of the affects of the last glacial period. Voucher specimens have been deposited at the University of Colorado Herbarium.
    Support: Travel to Baja California, Mexico, for specimen collections, supplies for DNA extraction kits and funds for DNA sequencing.
  • Creation of Object Kits for the Education Section of the CU Museum.
    Goal: Thesis project designed to create three object oriented kits that can be used by Pre-K through 12 courses. Object kits have been incorporated by the Education section of the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.
    Support: Purchase of object specimens and supplies for creation of object kits.
  • Collection development for the Museo Comunitario de Tutupepec, Oaxaca, Mexico.
    Goal: To document and organize an exhibit of artifacts from the Terminal Formative Period for the Museo Comunitario de Tutupepec.
    Support: Travel and lodging related expenses.
  • The implications of pelvic shape and sexual dimorphism in the wolf (Canis lupis).
    Goal: To examine the degree of sexual dimorphism in pelvic and cranial shape in a sample of adult wolves from various European localities.
    Support: Travel and lodging to support research at the National Museum of Natural History, London, England.
  • Determining the cultural groups that inhabited Chaco Canyon.
    Goal: To analyze artifacts associated with the different houses within Chaco Canyon to determine whether distinct cultural groups co-existed within the area.
    Support: Travel and lodging expenses and supplies.
  • Investigations into the microblade technology of early Holocene archaeological sites in southeast Alaska.
    Goal: To determine whether microblade variation exists between different archeological sites that vary in time and space.
    Support: Transportation expenses.