Deadline extended for Erickson Discovery Grants

The $3,500 grants support original scholarship, creative work and research

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The deadline for undergraduates to to apply for an Erickson Discovery Grant has been extended to Feb. 24. Applications can be found here at InfoReady.

The Erickson Discovery Grant program provides $3,500 toward expenses of a student-initiated independent project. Student projects of all kinds are welcome: the arts, engineering, humanities, sciences and social sciences. Projects should primarily be the student’s own work, but they can be related to the supervising faculty member’s research or scholarly interests. Grants can be used to cover living expenses and project costs.

“While many opportunities seem to have been reduced during our fight with COVID-19, the opportunity to be curious and seek meaningful understandings has never been greater,” said Alan Rieck, associate vice president and associate dean for Undergraduate Education. “This program provides means for summer exploration of questions born out of curiosity.”

Malaria and wildfire

More than 60 Erickson Discovery Grants were awarded for summer 2020 and nearly all grantees were able to complete their experiences despite restrictions placed on them due to COVID-19.

Huntur Woodard, a senior biology major at Penn State York from Hanover, Pennsylvania, used the summer and an Erickson Grant to focus on literature searches, reviews, marker identification and writing while lab work was restricted due to COVID-19.

Huntur Woodard worked in the field lab at Hopland, California, in 2019. In summer 2020, he used an Erickson Discovery Grant to fund continued remote research during the pandemic. Credit: ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

Under the direction of Anne Vardo-Zalik, associate professor of biology, Woodard’s research looks at the genetics of the lizard population and malaria parasite in a particular area in California both before and after a wildfire. Woodard explained that in 2018 a wildfire burned more than half of the Hopland Research and Extension Center in Hopland, California. This site has been studied for more than 40 years.

“This project will provide more information on how malaria is affected by wildfires and how much of an impact the wildfires actually have on native species in California,” Woodard said.

His advice to fellow undergraduates writing funding proposals is to communicate with their mentor and go through multiple drafts.

“When applying for anything, especially funding, it is extremely competitive and the very best you can create is needed,” he said.

Undergraduate Research and Fellowships Mentoring can assist with applications

Students looking for help with their Erickson Discovery Grant application materials should visit Undergraduate Research and Fellowships Mentoring or email URFM will provide feedback, but materials must be submitted at least two weeks in advance of the Feb. 24 deadline.

Further questions about Erickson Discovery Grants may be directed to Alan Rieck at 814-863-1864 or

The program is named in honor of Rodney A. Erickson, the 17th president of Penn State, and sponsored  by Penn State Undergraduate Education.

Penn State Undergraduate Education is the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at

Last Updated January 25, 2021