Research funding is for the arts too

By ABE FEIGENBAUM/Montana State News

The Montana State University Undergraduate Research Celebration is also a celebration for artists.

Although research funding is frequently associated with the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math), MSU’s Undergraduate Scholars Program (USP) and its annual Research Celebration, is open campus-wide to all academic fields, including those involved in fine arts and the humanities.

“What we’re really looking at is that there is a research element or original scholarship. Basically, for artists, we want original works in their field,” said USP Program Coordinator Scarlet Schwendtner.

She emphasized the inclusive nature of the USP and the annual event, saying, “The Research Celebration is not a competition. We try to accommodate everyone and the review process is just to make sure the project is serious and ready to move forward.”

The USP online archives from past years includes artistic projects such as photo-essays, short films, musical compositions, music videos, fine arts and architecture. According to Schwendtner, “It ranges from year to year, but it’s common to get more film and photography.”

She noted that this year’s event, however, would feature a considerable number of architectural projects.

In an interview for MSU News, USP Director Colin Shaw stated, “One of the nice things about the Student Research Celebration is that you can see the results of science and engineering research and then, a few posters down, discover a creative ceramics or photography project or a scholarly project on history.”

Artists receive both the same opportunity for and the same amount of funding as science researchers. Schwendtner clarified that the funding is determined by an hourly rate that is the same, regardless of the field of study. The eventual total amount is determined by how many work hours a researcher or artist puts in.

The artistic opportunities notwithstanding, the range of projects submitted to the Research Celebration is, according to Schwendtner, “science-heavy.” Although the event has always been open to all disciplines, Schwendtner has seen a clear STEM orientation in her nine years with the program.

She says the scientific focus is not caused by any selective bias on their part, rather, the quantity of science research projects commonly submitted.

The 2015 Research Celebration will take place on April 9 in SUB Ballrooms B, C and D. It will start at 9 a.m.. and end at 4:30 p.m. with different panels, oral presentations and poster sessions happening throughout the day. For a more detailed schedule, visit

Edited by Nicole Smith

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