Allegheny College Receives $299,925 Grant to Support Student Summer Research in the Sciences

Allegheny College received a $299,925 grant from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation to support student summer research in the sciences. Dr. Matt Venesky, associate professor of biology and director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities (URSCA), is the project director.

During each year of the three-year grant, funding will cover stipends for 15 summer research students in the sciences, as well as student research supplies, summer housing, and travel to conferences. In addition to providing a greater number of summer research opportunities to science students beginning this summer, the grant also aims to increase the participation of first-generation students, historically underrepresented students, and students of color, and to allow faculty to build larger student research teams.  

Dr. Venesky said, “It is such an exciting time to be a student in the sciences; innovation is happening so rapidly in the world and even on our campus. We know that high-impact educational practices, such as student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship, allow students to make meaningful academic connections, but they are also costly. This grant will allow us to fund a greater number of students than we’ve been able to fund during previous summers, and it will help us realize our aim of providing research opportunities for every Allegheny student. More specifically, this grant will allow us to build programming that will help summer faculty mentors recruit and provide opportunities to students who are, and have been, historically underrepresented in the sciences.”  

Students funded through the grant will join other summer research students for related activities, including the Allegheny College Research Seminar Series (ACRoSS), a weekly interdisciplinary forum for the presentation of student summer projects. Students will also hear presentations from Allegheny College’s Center for Career and Professional Development, which provides professional development workshops throughout the summer.

The overall goal of the grant program is to enhance college students’ understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of modern science. Through this competitive, national process, Allegheny College was on a short list of schools from which the Foundation requested a proposal to support on-campus summer research programs in the sciences, off-campus field research, and off-campus summer research experiences for students. In the context of the grant, “sciences” refers to laboratory and field-based sciences such as astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, neuroscience, physics, and combinations of these disciplines. 

Undergraduate Research: A Hallmark of the Allegheny College Experience

The Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities (URSCA) organizes and oversees Allegheny College’s undergraduate research and scholarship programming throughout the year. In summer 2023, 92 students across 23 academic departments and programs participated in our summer research program. Undergraduate research is a hallmark of the Allegheny experience, and the college has a national reputation for providing opportunities to undergraduates to engage in research with faculty. In 2015, the Council on Undergraduate Research presented Allegheny with the inaugural Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishment, recognizing Allegheny as the top baccalaureate college in the country for providing high-quality research experiences to undergraduates. 

The ongoing commitment to undergraduate research is also affirmed in the college’s Strategic Pathway, adopted in 2023, which guarantees that “every Allegheny student will gain high-quality knowledge, skills, and abilities, rooted in the liberal arts, that prepare them for meaningful lives and purposeful careers in an interconnected world.” Student-faculty research enables students to gain relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities by putting theory into practice and applying their liberal arts education to real-world challenges. 

About Allegheny College

Allegheny College, founded in 1815, is one of the nation’s most historic and innovative four-year colleges, with the unique requirement of completing a major and minor in different academic areas. This multidisciplinary learning breaks the conventional mold to provide creative, independent thinkers with a path for educational depth and intellectual growth, preparing them for careers that may not yet exist. Located in western Pennsylvania, Allegheny College is one of 40 colleges featured in Loren Pope’s “Colleges That Change Lives.” In its 2024 rankings, U.S. News & World Report recognized Allegheny College as one of the country’s top 100 national liberal arts colleges — and one of the top 25 best for undergraduate research and creative activities.

To interview grant project director Matt Venesky, contact Jennifer Rignani at