There are several competitive senior thesis funds to which undergraduates may apply for support of travel, research, and supplies for field research on an environmental topic in the U.S. and abroad.

Click here for a full list of funded senior thesis projects organized by year.


Applying for Funds

Applications for senior thesis research support are coordinated through the Student Activities Funding Engine (SAFE). Students may apply for funds during the spring semester of their junior year for summer senior thesis research, or in the fall of their senior year for research during the academic year. Students planning to apply for funds are encouraged to speak with their advisers as soon as possible.

Contact Emily Ahmetaj, Internship Program Manager, with any questions regarding senior thesis funding and/or the application.


Fall 2021 Thesis Funding

Princeton seniors are eligible to apply regardless of academic discipline, but proposed research must have an environmental dimension. Information on fall senior thesis funding applications will be posted here, and applications made available through the Student Activities Funding Engine (SAFE).


Getting Ready to Apply

As you prepare your materials for your thesis funding application, please keep in mind you will need to organize the following items:

  • Personal contact information.
  • General information, including your thesis topic, net-ID, thesis adviser name, and travel plans.
  • Funding sources: a list of all funding you have received to date for your thesis research (including current and past commitments).
  • Other potential funding sources: please include the total amount of research funds you are currently requesting from other sources.
  • Project statement: this document should reflect your proposed research, the research methods you intend to employ, and the work accomplished to date.
  • Project budget/itemized list of expenses: provide a clear working budget for all your anticipated expenses. Travel expenses should be clearly delineated. (See more detailed information below for what is an allowable expense.)
  • Planned itinerary: please indicate where you are going, what you plan to do, and whom you will see at the research location. Indicate whether you have contacted the appropriate person at the research location for the necessary documents, lab access, or archives.
  • Qualifications: include language, quantitative skills, coursework or other training, or skills which have prepared you for this type of research.
  • Students  must comply with the University’s standards of conduct  and requirements for undergraduate travel in order to receive funding from HMEI.
Students in wetsuits on an excursion
Princeton undergraduate students from any department can apply for financial support from HMEI related to their senior-thesis research.


Project Budget

Students applying for senior thesis research funds are required to submit a detailed budget. The following are eligible expenses:

  • Travel to and from the research location unless the site is in the student’s hometown or country. Please note: All students are required to register with the University’s Travel & Expense website as a condition of receiving funds. (See restrictions under Undergraduate Travel Policies and Conduct section below.)
  • Travel related expenses, including food ($25 per day maximum), accommodations, and local transportation (off-campus only).
  • Required research supplies (including lab expenses).
  • Research facilities access fees.
  • Payments to Human Subjects: departmental and IRB approval required (limits will apply).
  • Research-related books.
  • Research-related photocopying.

Note: It is acceptable to include research supplies such as a digital voice recorder in the proposed budget; however, upon completion of the research, all reusable equipment must be returned to the High Meadows Environmental Institute for use by future students and researchers. If the requested item is already in HMEI’s inventory, the student may be provided it on loan, and the budget will be reduced by the cost of the loaned item.

“Over two summers studying herbivore diets in Mozambique and Kenya, I learned how connected everything is. I hope to pursue a career in environmental research or conservation and my experiences with HMEI gave me the skills and the mindset I need to do so.”
Maria Stahl ’20 – Ecology and Evolutionary Biology/Environmental Studies and HMEI Summer Intern

Expenses Not Covered

Senior thesis research expenses that are not covered include:

  • Personal travel not associated with research.
  • Entertainment expenses.
  • Dry cleaning and other personal costs not essential for research.
  • Supplies that are not necessary for research.
  • Toiletries.
  • Clothing.
  • Travel between Princeton and a research site that is in close proximity to the student’s permanent home.*
  • Living expenses for students who will be doing research in their home cities.
  • Vaccines and immunizations.

*The policy on funding for students doing research in their home locations is as follows:

  • Travel between Princeton and a research site that is near the student’s permanent home is not an eligible expense.
  • Living expenses are not eligible expenses for students doing research in their home cities.

Due to COVID-19, University-sponsored travel has been significantly restricted; both domestic and international. As a result, please consult the Pandemic-Period Permissible Travel Guidelines:

student with swim mechanic in the ocean
HMEI’s Becky Colvin Memorial Award is open to juniors in the Certificate Program in Environmental Studies or majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology seeking support for senior thesis-related fieldwork. Pictured is 2016 Colvin recipient Zoe Sims ’17.


Project Funding

Formal award letters will include details pertaining to the funded award and the terms and conditions of using research funds. Students must accept or decline the offer within one week of award notification. It is imperative that students complete the acceptance form as quickly as possible to secure their funding and to expedite award processing. When Applicable, IRB and IACUC approval(s) must be obtained prior to receiving funding.


Becky Colvin Memorial Award

Juniors in the Certificate Program in Environmental Studies or majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology are eligible to apply for the Becky Colvin Memorial Award, which provides support for travel, research supplies, and other expenses associated with field research for the senior thesis. The award was established in memory of Becky Colvin ’95, an EEB major who was strongly committed to ecology and environmental studies. Nominees are selected by the director of HMEI and the chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in consultation with the Colvin family.


Applying for the Award

The Becky Colvin Memorial Award application is now posted. As you prepare materials for your application, please keep in mind you will need to organize the following items:

  • Project description with a separate paragraph addressing the environmental relevance of your proposed topic;
  • An itemized budget detailing the costs associated with your research and travel. Please also include a list of all the other funding sources you have received and any you have applied for;
  • A copy of your transcript
  • A letter of recommendation from your faculty thesis adviser

Contact Amber Lee, Undergraduate/Graduate Program Manager, with any questions regarding the application.