The Scholarly Inquiry and Research at Emory (SIRE) program, which gives students the opportunity to conduct research through grants, faculty-student partnerships and research stipends, has decreased its award amount due to budget cuts and a cease in funding from Emtriva, an HIV/AIDS medication created at Emory.
Before this year’s budgetary restrictions, Director of the SIRE Program for Undergraduate Research Leah Roesch explained that students were able to choose between receiving an hourly wage or school credit during the academic year for the Research Partners program. Now, SIRE is only capable of paying students who qualify for Federal Work Study, while all other students receive academic credit.
According to Roesch, programs such as the Summer SIRE Research Partners Program, which is geared towards social sciences and humanities students, were getting too expensive, with $5,500 necessary to cover each student’s 10-week stipend and housing. The program previously accommodated 12 to 15 students, but will be limited to five or six this year.
Throughout the course of the year, SIRE traditionally has supported about 100-130 students through a variety of formats, including semester and summer programs, grants, International Research Experience for Science Students (IRES) and conference travel awards.
With the recent cuts, SIRE award amounts have decreased in an effort to provide for as many students as possible. Grants for international research projects, which SIRE previously capped at $4,000, have now been capped at $2,500.
Roesch added that SIRE has also had to turn down conference travel grant applications from students this year, whereas in the past the program has been able to offer $500 for travel to conferences where students may present their research.
“As for difficulties, each SIRE program is supporting as many students as possible while providing enough support and funding to create meaningful experiences,” Roesch wrote in an email to the Wheel
. “No program is in jeopardy of being cut completely, but we need to work hard to raise some funds.”
Rosech wrote that the SIRE program must “work hard to raise funds” that will go towards making the summer program available to more students, increasing flexibility of international grants and keeping support for the academic year flexible so students who are not on Federal Work Study have the option of working for pay, according to Roesch, noting the value these programs have for students.
“Students who participate in both the academic-year and summer programs report that the program helped them prepare for graduate school, connect with faculty members, prepare for honors research and discover future careers — so certainly losing the programs entirely would be a huge loss for the whole community,” Roesch wrote.
Canceling the summer program in particular, Roesch added, would greatly affect students because it provides a “unique opportunity to do research full-time in the social sciences, humanities and arts.”
Programs during the year are geared toward students of all disciplines while the summer program provides research opportunities for students in the humanities and social sciences.
Emory’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURE), which offers science-based students research opportunities with University facilities, resources and faculty, is also facing uncertainty.
The SURE program, which is open to both Emory and non-Emory students, has been receiving support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the past five granting cycles.
Associate Director of the Center for Science Education Catherine Quinones wrote in an email to the Wheel that it’s stressful to know the number of qualified students who will not be able to participate in the program because of tight budgets.
SURE participants receive a $3,500 on top of campus housing, which was valued at $1,340 during fall 2011.
Due to budgeting and funding complications, SURE will be reducing the number of students it accepts, Quinones wrote.
“Support can come in many ways,” she wrote. “The key element about summer research is that we try to remove financial and academic distractions so the student can focus on research.”
News Editor Jordan Friedman and Asst. Editorials Editor Shahdabul Faraz contributed reporting.
— Contact Alice Chen.