Group out of travel grants

GAPSA distributed the last of its travel grants one month earlier than planned.

Bryce Haugen

Tony Gamble said he plans to go to Brazil to study the evolutionary relationships of lizards with money from several travel grants.

But instead of receiving a Graduate and Professional Student Assembly grant for $500, which Gamble said he had expected, GAPSA granted the conservation biology doctoral student $150.

“(The money’s) going to help, and I’m definitely glad I’m getting it, but it’s just a drop in the bucket,” said Gamble, who also applied for grants through his department. “I’m also going to spend some out of my own pocket.”

Because of high demand, GAPSA distributed the remainder of its travel grants Wednesday – one month earlier than leaders had planned. Many of the 66 students who applied for funds in March, such as Gamble, received less than the $500 the grants usually provide. Unlike previous months, students in March who give poster-board presentations, instead of papers or research, will receive no

money.

This year – the first GAPSA has offered travel grants – the group distributed more than 120 grants, totaling approximately $26,000.

Mark Bellcourt, GAPSA’s vice president for grants, said the grants allow graduate students to attend important conferences.

“These aren’t little junkets – these are actual opportunities to present their research,” he said.

The Grants Committee tried to make the money last as long as possible, Bellcourt said.

“In the end, we kind of looked at priorities,” he said. “But we just ran out of money.”

Abu Jalal, GAPSA president, said the group plans to increase the travel grants fund by $5,000 next year.

“We didn’t realize what kind of demand there was going to be,” he said. “This year was sort of an experimental stage.”

Karen Buhr, GAPSA executive vice president, said the group will also look at supporting travel for professional students, such as dental and law students, who are mostly ineligible for travel grants.

Travel is a huge burden for graduate and professional students, she said, and the University should pay for more of it.

Victor Bloomfield, vice provost for research and interim dean for the Graduate School, said the University has no plans to increase support for Graduate School student travel.

“Travel is certainly a good thing, but in tight budget times, it’s not the highest priority,” he said.

After GAPSA denied her travel grant request, Katy Heath said, she’s looking for other ways to pay for her trip to Alaska.

“It’s going to be an expensive trip,” said Heath, who is a plant evolutionary biology research assistant.

Heath said she also applied for grants through her department and the Council of Graduate Students, a GAPSA member organization. Each spring, the council offers five $250 grants.

Council President Britt Johnson said that she hopes the program, formed last year by an endowment, grows each year.

“It’s really important for graduate students to do this sort of travel but there’s not a lot of money to pay for it,” she said.