College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Agricultural & Resource Economics

The Bruce and Mary Ann Gardner Dissertation Enhancement Award

The Bruce and Mary Ann Gardner Dissertation Enhancement Award is given in honor of Bruce and Mary Ann Gardner each year to one or more students to enhance the quality of their dissertations. The intent of the award is to provide funds between $2,000 and $5,000 that would significantly increase the quality of the student’s dissertation or improve the student’s chances of obtaining outside funding for their dissertation research. The award is administered from the budget office, following university disbursement procedure.

All students who will have completed their required coursework (not including the prospectus defense) by the date of the award are invited to apply. The grant can be used to support the purchase of data or efforts to collect data, including travel as it is related to these endeavors. Awards are not intended for travel to conferences or workshops or to support graduate student salary or stipends.

Applications are due by May 1. The graduate committee and the Director of Financial Services will review proposals and give priority to proposals from students whose dissertation proposals are in more advanced stages and for cases in which funds would allow the student to collect or obtain data that is otherwise unavailable. Awards will be announced by the June 1.

Applicants are required to submit to the Director of Graduate Studies a brief abstract of no more than 100 words, a proposal of no more than three pages, the most recent copy of their CV and one letter of recommendation from a professor within the department. The abstract should describe the proposal in plain, non-technical language. The proposal should address the following questions: What is the student’s proposed dissertation topic? What would the Enhancement Award allow the student to do that improves the dissertation? How would the funds be used? Students should indicate the status of their prospectus (defended, scheduled, proposed) in their application. The final section of the proposal should provide a proposed budget, budget justification, and a time line for expected expenses. If the award will assist the student in applications for extramural funding, this should be clearly indicated in the proposal along with a list of the sources of funding the student plans to apply to and details of those sources’ application process (due dates for receipt of proposals, dates at which funds become available, whether faculty support is needed and, if so, a statement from a faculty member indicating that such support will be provided, etc.).

Students who receive funding will have access to the funds starting July 1. Students will be required to spend all funds by April 30. Requests for a maximum one-month extension must be made in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies by April 1. Students will work with the business office to make purchases in accordance with the approved budget and University of Maryland policy and procedures. The business office will provide the student a monthly expenditure report. Any changes to the approved budget will require approval in advance by the Director of Graduate Studies. Students will be required to submit a final report no later than six weeks after the funds are spent. The final report should itemize expenditures, describe how the funds were used to enhance the student’s dissertation research and document any attempts to obtain extramural funding. 

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