Jed Burtt Undergraduate Mentoring Grants

The Wilson Ornithological Society is pleased to offer grants available to mentors of undergraduate students working in collaboration on an ornithological research project. These grants are named in honor of Edward (“Jed”) H. Burtt, Jr., a Past-President of WOS (1997-1999) and an exemplary mentor of undergraduates during his distinguished career. This grant program began in 2016.

List of past recipients

WOS will award annually up to two grants of $1,000 to research projects that demonstrate the greatest capacity of mentoring and collaboration with at least one undergraduate. In addition, each mentor-student team will receive up to $2,000 (i.e., up to $1000 for the faculty mentor and $1000 for the student researcher(s)) to attend a subsequent annual meeting of the Wilson Ornithological Society where the student(s) will present the findings of their grant-supported work. WOS expects the Mentor to supervise participation of the student(s) in the conference, with the goal of enabling the student(s) to get as much out of the experience as possible.

Applications will be due annually on 15 December, with a committee decision made as soon as possible after that date. This will allow time for funds to be distributed early in the subsequent year, to support field studies that may take place in the subsequent summer (although grants are not limited to research to be done during the summer). Recipients must complete the project no later than 1 April of the following year (for example, for an application submitted in December 2017 in support of work to be completed in summer 2018, the team must compete the project by 1 April 2019).

A requirement of the grant is that the supported undergraduate will present the results of the study at the Wilson Ornithological Society annual meeting in either of the two years following announcement of the grant award. (A student receiving an award at the end of their Junior year could, for example, complete the work by April of her or his Senior year, but then present the work in the next year (a full year after graduation) if, for example, the student and mentor were not ready or able to present the work at the WOS annual meeting of the student’s Senior year.)

WOS will distribute $1,000 prior to the onset of the study (funds available on or before 1 March) to support conduct of the research. WOS will distribute the remainder of the funds (up to $2,000) once the undergraduate has prepared and submitted (in consultation with the Mentor) a final report to the Research Committee Chair and has submitted an abstract for presentation at a Wilson Ornithological Society meeting.


The Mentor must be a member of the Wilson Ornithological Society at the time of application; must maintain membership through the period during which the research is done; and must be a member in good standing during the year in which the student presents the results at the WOS annual meeting. Receipt of funds supporting attendance at the meeting by both the student(s) and the Mentor will be contingent on the Mentor’s continuing active membership in WOS.

The student(s) to be mentored must at the time of application be full-time enrolled in an institution of higher education, but not necessarily at the same institution as the mentor. (The mentor could, for example, be an ornithologist working for a not-for-profit organization who mentors undergraduates at a local college.) Ideally, applications should come from students not yet in their Senior year; however, projects involving work done in the spring/summer immediately following graduation may be considered as long as the proposal includes clear indication that the student is likely to continue work in ornithology in some capacity (e.g., graduate study or employment).

The Mentor must provide a statement outlining the rationale of how the award will be used to develop the career of the student in ornithology. This statement must include explanation about the anticipated timeline for completion and presentation of the work, including identification of the particular future WOS annual meeting at which the team expects the student to give a presentation based at least in part on the funded work.

Number of awards: Each particular Mentor-student team is restricted to a single award. No Mentor may be supported by two awards concurrently: a Mentor who received an award for research conducted in a given year (e.g., 2016) would need to wait until the next full application cycle (e.g., deadline of 1 December 2018) to apply for support of another student.

Application Requirements
Application deadline 

15 December (for funding of projects to be conducted during the following calendar year)

Application portal

Mentor-submitted Materials

(1) Research Proposal and budget

Length: The body of the proposal is limited to three 6 x 28 cm (8.5 x 11 in) pages, with 2.5 cm (1 in) margins and 12 point, double-spaced typeface. This page limit includes neither the application form, which should be included as a cover page, nor the budget, literature cited, or tables and figures sections. Please keep tables and figures to a minimum, occupying no more than one additional page.

Title and contact information: Include a clear descriptive title of ≤ 15 words. The application must clearly indicate the names of the student(s) and mentor, their address and/or professional affiliations, and contact information for both.

Abstract (max. 100 words)

Introduction: Provide relevant background information. Clearly state the objectives of your study and state a research hypothesis or specific research goals. Proposals must state how your research will contribute to the advancement of ornithology, including how your work will answer ornithological questions from the literature, and how it will stimulate new questions for future studies. Include a statement of how the Wilson award will advance your career.

Methods: Proposals must provide information on research methodology, analytical methods (including statistical treatments) and the locality where the research will be conducted. Should include a very clear and detailed timeline. If your research involves obtaining permits or capturing live animals, make it clear that you have obtained, or have initiated the process of securing permits and/or necessary Animal Care and Use training documents.

Literature Cited: List all references cited in the body of the proposal, using the citation format of the Wilson Journal of Ornithology. The literature cited section does not count as part of the proposal page limit.

Figures and tables: Use as needed to clarify the text but try to minimize figures and tables to one additional page. The figures and tables do not count against the 3-page limit.

Budget: Provide an itemized budget for how the $1000 will be used. The funds should not be applied to mentor salaries or student stipends. Include a list of other sources and amounts of funding (applied for and/or received). Include a brief description of how the funds from WOS will make the work possible, in relation to other sources of funding.

(2) Mentoring plan

A statement of how the research project will develop the careers of the student(s) and the mentor, and simultaneously contribute to the advancement of ornithology.

Explanation about the anticipated timeline for completion and presentation of the work, including anticipated time spent with the student and identification of the particular future WOS annual meeting at which the team expects the student to give a presentation based at least in part on the funded work.

Discuss your rapport with the student, including how long you have been working with the student and in what capacity. Also discuss the student’s preparation for the project and relevancy to the student’s academic or career goals.

The body of the statement is limited to three 21.6 x 28 cm (8.5 x 11 in) pages, with 2.5 cm (1 in) margins and 12 point, double-spaced typeface.

(3) A brief (one-page) Curriculum Vitae

Student-submitted Materials

(1) Personal statement

Essay explaining your interest in the proposed research and how research will enhance your graduate school and/or career plans. State your research interests, experiences, educational goals, career objectives and any information that may aid the selection committee. Be sure to include any interest you may have in specific aspects of the research project you are proposing and your role in developing the proposed project.

(2) Résumé

A one-page resume of education and work experiences. List courses you have taken that relate to your research interest or have helped prepare you to conduct the research, as well as any other relevant experiences or skills.

(3) Transcript

An official or unofficial transcript that clearly indicates that the applicant student is a full-time student in good academic standing.

Expectations for Grant Recipients

Complete the field or lab work, documenting expenditures related to use of the grant funds.

Submit a brief 2-page summary of the work by 31 March of the year following announcement of the award. Summaries, or portions of them, may be used on the WOS website. Grantees must supply a photograph of the student(s) conducting research.

The student (or, in the case of multi-student projects, by one of the students) is expected to give an oral or poster presentation at a Wilson Ornithological Society annual meeting (following standard procedures for abstract submission and conference registration) no later than the third year following receipt of the grant. The Mentor is required to attend the same meeting (as a registered participant) at which the student will present the results. For projects involving a single student, the student will not be eligible to apply for regular Student Travel Grants; if multiple students are involved, grant funds could be used for one presenting student while another student working on the same project applied for a Student Travel Award if giving a second presentation. WOS will release funds supporting attendance at the meeting upon receipt of evidence of conference registration by both the Mentor and the student, and evidence of acceptance of the student’s abstract by the Scientific Program Committee.

Past recipients of Burtt Undergraduate Mentoring Grants