Funds & Budgeting
During your first semester in the program, you will submit an extensive, revised budget covering the entirety of your multi-year project. Understanding research budgets is covered in our seminars. After the director of undergraduate research has approved your preliminary budget, your faculty mentor must approve it. Your budget must be fully approved at least one month in advance of any purchases, and it must be updated annually—more often if it changes significantly. Typically, funds cannot be accessed until the first summer after entry into the program to give you time to develop the project and plan.
Ordering Supplies for Your Lab
The director of undergraduate research can provide an order number (I/O) to your lab once you have an approved budget. You are responsible for ensuring that backup for all orders is emailed to the director within two weeks of purchases. Lab expenditures cannot include any equipment and cannot exceed 35% of your total budget.
In keeping with Johns Hopkins regulations, travel (including plane tickets, hotels, and other prepurchased tickets) must be purchased through the office of the director of undergraduate research. Speak with the director well in advance of any travel plans, and be aware that international research will often require a special research visa, which may take months to attain. Travel requests must occur 90 days in advance for international travel and 60 days in advance for domestic travel to ensure proper research sites are developed.
For Other Expenses
Non-lab and non-travel expenses are funded through a Visa prepaid card. To obtain and use the card:
- Meet with the director to re-evaluate your budget. The budget should be in Excel format and loaded into Box. After your budget is approved by the director, it must be approved by your mentor. (Your budget will be updated on an annual basis or more frequently as necessary.)
- The director will have a prepaid card issued in your name, which can be loaded with funds as needed in keeping with your updated budget.
- You will register your card online by following the instructions that come with your card. Registering your card will create an online account where you (and the director) can track all of your expenses.
- At the end of each month, you will scan all of your receipts into one PDF and email it to the director along with a purchasing log detailing transactions.
- Remember to update your budget and have it approved if it changes significantly. It may take seven days or longer to add additional funds to your card.
You will have to reimburse the program for any unallowable charges made with the card. Your account will be monitored regularly. Read the Visa card agreement.
Other Budgeting Considerations
You may only begin to access your funds once you have a faculty mentor and an approved budget. Any budgeting involving travel must adhere to the Johns Hopkins University travel policies and related travel rates. Your budget must be broken down by direct lab costs (if applicable), travel costs, and Visa purchases (such as books, a camera, etc). Use the URSCA Budget Template.
Woodrow Wilson Fellows are provided the unique opportunity to work one-on-one with Hopkins’ greatest asset—its faculty. Faculty mentors work directly with fellows to ensure that fellows are aware of the current discourse surrounding their topic and that their work is making a unique contribution to their field. Read the faculty mentor agreement.
Role of the Faculty Mentor
- Mentors assist the fellows in budgeting their funds.
- Students must present the details of their anticipated expenses to their mentor for approval.
- Mentors must make sure a fellows’ expenses are directly related to their independent research.
- If there are any expenditures that a mentor believes are not appropriate, it is the mentor’s role to withhold approval of these expenditures. The Woodrow Wilson Program relies on the judgment of mentors to determine which expenses are justified.
Mentors have a great deal of discretion in approving or disapproving projects proposed by fellows. If a mentor believes the proposed project is not worthy of support, or that the fellow should first take classes or do background reading before embarking on the project, it is the mentor’s role to notify the director.
Advice and Counseling
- Mentors should provide the first source of problem resolution for their fellow. Mentors unable to maintain a close and open connection with the fellow they’re advising should contact the Woodrow Wilson Program director.
- Mentors must meet with their fellow on a bi-weekly basis.
- Mentors and fellows must maintain communication during intersession, summer, sabbaticals, and research trips since most fellows concentrate on their research during intersession and the summer.
- Mentors should give careful guidance and support in context of their fellow’s relative inexperience as a researcher.
- Since many Wilson fellows go on to graduate school, the mentor should also be prepared to support that and related professional endeavors.
If a fellow is conducting research with human subjects, IRB approval may be required. A mentor must serve as the principal investigator on the IRB application. Visit the Homewood IRB website for more information.
Finding a Mentor
- Meet with the director of undergraduate research for advice on a topic or mentor. She knows the topics others fellows have pursued and the faculty who have served as mentors in the past.
- If any course you are taking provides possible inspiration for your research, talk to the professor during office hours about your interests and how to develop them.
- Do not hesitate to approach an older fellow for advice. He or she may know a great deal about your area of interest and the faculty in that area.
- Read course descriptions in the course catalogue to see if any courses specifically or generally align with your research interests and contact the professors who teach these courses.
- Look up the research interests of the faculty in the department(s) that interests you the most on their departmental websites.
- Your mentor must be a full-time Hopkins faculty member. Your mentor does not have to be a faculty member in the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences.
- It is strongly recommended that your official mentor be someone on the Homewood campus. Administratively, it will make things much easier for you.
Contacting a Potential Mentor
- Contact the professor by email, asking for an informational interview about your interest.
- Write the email in a formal manner, and be sure to address them by their honorifics (usually Dr.). Being too informal with a professor who does not know you can put off the professor before the two of you even meet.
- This topic is also covered early on in the workshop series and sample emails will be shared.
Once You Have a Mentor
- Meet with your mentor to discuss your planned expenses.
- Based on that discussion, review the budget originally drafted for the project.
- You must discuss your budget with the director of undergraduate research throughout this process, but be sure that the finalized version is signed by your mentor before you submit it to the director for final approval. Add a brief description of your project, including any necessary clarification of how your expenses fit into your research plans.
- Turn in the budget to the director of undergraduate research. All Wilson documents are managed through Box. This process will be outlined during our workshop series. No past budgets or documents should be deleted from Box. An email from your mentor to the director is used to show approval.
- Record your finances in a an Excel spreadsheet. You will be responsible for turning in an expense log with digital copes of receipts at the end of each month that purchases are made.
Meet with your Mentor
- Discuss where you anticipate needing guidance (e.g. how to narrow your topic, how to structure the timeline of your research, what your final product might look like).
- If you’re feeling lost, come up with a couple of specific questions with which to begin the conversation and write them down so you can reference them while you’re articulating why you’re struggling.
- Ask your mentor for some reading suggestions because one of your first tasks will be completing an extensive literature review.
- Discuss by what method and how frequently you’d both like to make contact. Would your mentor prefer to meet in person or correspond through email and phone calls? Set up a standing schedule if that’s how the two of you decide to structure your meetings.
Fellows should not expect to change mentors. Working with the same mentor will allow you to produce a deep and extensive project. The mentor relationship is taken seriously, so choose your mentor carefully.
Requirements & Expectations
To stay in the program and be a successful participant, you must:
- Have a mentor and be engaged in a research project by January of your sophomore year. If you enter the summer after sophomore year without a mentor, you risk losing your fellowship.
- Maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA, and maintain the minimum amount of credits each semester. If your GPA falls below a 3.0, or you do not maintain the minimum amount of credits, you forfeit access to your funds. If this happens for three semesters in a row, you will be removed from the program with the right to appeal.
- Maintain your major in a Krieger School of Arts & Sciences department. If you are a double major, your primary major must be in the Krieger School.
- Attend all mandatory meetings. You must notify the director by email in advance if you cannot make a meeting and explain your conflict.
- Prepare a 1-2 page essay at the start of each fall semester discussing your research activities to date.
- Meet individually at least monthly with the director of undergraduate research. Also, all fellows must meet with the director to get budget approval before any expenses are incurred.
- Turn in a final product to the director when you have completed a research project. The product should be similar to what would be expected in a professional publication in your field. For many, this product is a 20-25 page research paper, but creative projects may take many other forms. This project will be shared on this website.
- Publicly present your research at the senior poster session during the spring semester of your senior year.
- Attend every poster session prior to your senior year and all Woodrow Wilson Program events.
- Meet with the director to discuss the situation if for any reason you have to leave the university (take a leave of absence, transfer, etc.).
Fellows who need five years to complete their bachelor’s degree may continue in the Woodrow Wilson Program throughout all five years as long as they are in good academic standing and have not spent all of their fellowship funds.
Students pursuing a BA/MA degree program are considered fellows only as long as they are undergraduates. In typical BA/MA programs, the second year a student enters the program is his or her fifth year at Hopkins. At this point, the student becomes a full-time graduate student and is no longer considered a Woodrow Wilson Fellow.
The director of the Woodrow Wilson Program reserve the right to remove a fellow if they determine that the fellow has not been making satisfactory progress.
Choosing a Project
The fellowship allows you to pursue your research interests in an independent fashion. However, it also calls for high-caliber research. To be approved, research topics should be closely related to your fields of academic specialization (i.e., your majors and minors).
You should intend to concentrate on one topic the entire time you are in the program. Some research lends itself best to a long-term effort.
When to Research
During your first year in the Woodrow Wilson Program, the director will help you choose a mentor, design a project, and budget time and finances. Your coursework and overall success at Hopkins is a priority, so you and the director will discuss time management and how to balance priorities.
If you are conducting scientific research in a lab, you will need to maintain a presence in that lab throughout the school year. However, the bulk of your work in the fellowship should be planned for intersession and the summer (i.e., when you are not in class and can concentrate on your research without worrying about your grades).
Fellows do not automatically receive academic credit for their work through the Woodrow Wilson Program. You may earn academic credit for your research by completing an independent study with your mentor for one semester. You will need to ask your mentor if he or she is willing to do an independent study with you.
If your final project overlaps with the thesis you are competing for your major or is a shared project in any other way, you must disclose this information to both programs and both programs must give approval. Failure to do so could indicate academic dishonesty.
Publishing Your Research
A written document is required as part of your preparation for the public presentation of your research. This paper will be kept on file in the Office of the Dean for reference by future Woodrow Wilson Fellows. The Woodrow Wilson Program also encourages all of its fellows to seek publication for their research in some form; fellows will discuss options for publication with their mentors and with the director of undergraduate research.
Presenting Your Research
Here are some sample posters from recent Wilson students:
- Niat Habtemariam “Therapeutic Approaches to Disorders of Sonic Hedgehog Signaling”
- Sally Lu “Leydig Cell Regeneration after Injury and MEK/ERK Signaling Dynamics in Mice Testes”
- Gina El Nesr “Predicting Gibbs Free Energy Using Statistical Information and Machine Learning”
- Julianne Schmidt “On Conflict: Selections from the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection”