Center for Environmental Studies Faculty Grants

Harvey Mudd College’s Center for Environmental Studies will pay you to do environmental research over the summer at the institution of your choice, anywhere in the world. Proposals are typically due early spring semester, so watch for announcements.

Funding is specifically for student research, but a proposal may be initiated either by faculty or students. Students must be currently enrolled at Harvey Mudd College.

After reading the information below, if you are interested but unsure of where to begin, we suggest meeting with faculty in your major department who have environmental interests. This will allow you to learn about projects they may have underway and/or to identify potential topics and off-campus lab groups working on those topics. For additional ideas, you can search for your topic and discipline using Google’s “.edu” term, for example Google <chemistry “alternative energy”>

It can take time to find a good project and to establish rapport with a potential faculty mentor, so interested students should start on this well in advance of the March deadline. If you have any questions in the interim, please feel free to contact Paul Steinberg, the center director, at or 909.607.3840.

Types of Projects Supported

Research projects must be in the area of environmental studies broadly construed, which includes topics such as water and air quality, land use, environmental health impacts, energy, ecology, conservation of natural resources, sustainable development and other areas. Projects may be centered in science, engineering, mathematics, computer science, social science, the humanities, the arts or a combination of fields.

Funding is specifically for student research, but all projects must have a faculty advisor. Students may work with faculty at Harvey Mudd or at other reputable institutions of higher education. For an off-campus project, the student must identify a faculty research advisor at the host institution as well as an Harvey Mudd faculty “liaison” in a relevant discipline. The liaison’s role is to serve as a campus point person who maintains contact with the student throughout the summer and is available as a source of advice as needed.

The following are examples of past projects. These projects are described on the Center for Environmental Studies website. Under the “research” link you will find final project reports and successful project proposals. The latter can serve as excellent models for your proposal.

  • Impacts of Pollution on Native and Exotic Plant Ecosystems
    Student researchers: Mikel Grenzner, Ryan McCarthy
    Faculty advisor: Steve Adolph, Biology
  • Energy Efficient HVAC Devices for Humid Climates
    Student researcher: Sara Al-Beaini
    Faculty advisor: Nasreen Ghaddar, Mechanical Engineering Department, American University in Beirut
    HMC liaison: Mary Cardenas, Engineering
  • A Mathematical Model for the Effects of Strip Mining in Urban Areas
    Student researcher: Iván Ventura
    Faculty advisor: Alfonso Castro, Mathematics
  • Optical Characterization of Soot Aerosols
    Student researcher: Howard Yu
    Faculty advisor: Peter Saeta, Physics
  • Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion in Hawaii Kai, Hawaii
    Student researcher: Todd Taniguchi
    Faculty advisor: Dr. Hans Jurgen Kroc, Professor Emeritus of Ocean and Resources Engineering at the University of Hawaii and President of OCEES International.
    HMC liaison: Peter Saeta
  • Developing Multiple Alternative Energy Solutions to Meet Tomorrow’s Needs
    Student researchers: Michael Bigelow, Vicky Luyapan, Catherine Meyers, and Jessica Riley
    Faculty advisor: Haile-Selassie Rajamani, Bradford University, UK
    HMC liaison: Tony Bright, Engineering
  • Lizardnet – Developing and Testing a Non-Invasive Sensor System for Tracking Wildlife
    Student researcher: John Hicks
    Faculty advisors:  Mike Erlinger (Computer Science) and Steve Adolph (Biology)
  • Computational Solutions to Navier-Stokes and Water Quality at Huntington Beach
    Student researcher: Joe Majkut
    Faculty advisor: Oliver Fringer, Environmental Fluid Mechanics Lab, Stanford University
    HMC liaison: Andrew Bernoff, Mathematics
  • Lead in Soil from Vehicle Emissions
    Student researcher:  Jeffrey Rubenstein
    Faculty advisor: Hal Van Ryswyk, Chemistry
  • Design of a Continuous CO2 Scrubber to be Used in Alkaline Fuel Cells
    Student researcher: Michaela Reagan
    Faculty advisor: Susan Krumdieck, Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury, NZ

Who May Apply

Funding is specifically for student research, but a proposal may be initiated either by faculty or students. Students must be currently enrolled at Harvey Mudd College.

What is Covered

Stipend for the summer research student, following standard College pay scales for 10 weeks of student work; supplies and travel; modest stipend for an Harvey Mudd faculty research advisor.

How To Apply

Submit a short proposal for your project following the format described below. It is strongly recommended that students work closely with their project advisors and liaisons in preparing the proposal.

Proposal Evaluation

All proposals will be evaluated and ranked by the Steering Committee of the Center for Environmental Studies. Proposals will be evaluated according to

  1. the overall quality of the research proposal;
  2. the value of the project for the student’s intellectual growth and professional development;
  3. the significance of the proposed research for improving environmental quality; and crucially
  4. the feasibility of the research within time and budget constraints.

Due to the variety of backgrounds of those reviewing the proposals, the information contained in the proposal must be presented in a manner intelligible and informative to any Harvey Mudd faculty member.

Proposal Preparation and Format


State in one concise paragraph the importance of the project, the rationale for the approach to studying the topic, and the expected outcome if successful.

Starting Date, Duration and Location of Proposed Research

(One to three sentences) Research conducted away from the Harvey Mudd campus needs an explanation for why the project will be conducted at the particular host institution.

Proposed Research

In no more than one single-spaced page, give specific details of the central question and the approach to the proposed study.  Include the purpose of the research, a concise description of the project, and the names of the student and faculty participants. If the proposed project is part of a larger, ongoing research program, indicate the specific components of the research to be performed by the student.

Educational Value

In one paragraph, describe how the research project will benefit the student researcher in terms of intellectual growth and/or professional development.

Significance of Research for Environmental Quality

In one paragraph, establish the significance of the project for protecting environmental quality now or in the future. This could include any aspect of pollution reduction, improvements in energy efficiency, conservation of resources, protection of species or ecosystems, improvements in human welfare affected by environmental conditions, or other components of environmental quality broadly construed.


In no more than two paragraphs, establish the feasibility of the project by demonstrating that the student will have the resources, background, and faculty guidance needed to complete the project in the proposed time period with the budget requested.


Budget items may include summer salary for the student researcher, a $500 stipend for an Harvey Mudd faculty advisor, equipment, supplies, travel and publication costs. Non-salary items require a brief description and justification. Salaries are not available for non-Harvey Mudd faculty. Any external funds requested or received for the project should be mentioned along with an explanation of how the proposed budget would complement such funds.

Letter of Support

For research conducted at an institution other than Harvey Mudd, the proposal must be accompanied by a letter of support from the faculty advisor at the host institution. The letter must describe who will be responsible for direct supervision of the student researcher.


At the completion of the research project, the student is required to submit a final report to the center. In addition, students will be asked to present their work to the campus community in the form of a public lecture or discussion.

Acknowledgment of the Center for Environmental Studies at Harvey Mudd College should be made in any publication or presentation resulting from sponsored research.

Additional Information

If you have further questions, please contact Professor Paul Steinberg at