Go to all the places
Having spent several years working the grad travel funding system, it’s time to share some wisdom. We’ve found that there are many travel award opportunities for Neuroscience Ph.D. students that require very little work from you! Usually, these awards will reimburse you for legitimate travel costs (e.g. flights, hotels, food) to conferences you present at or even just attend. See each for more details, and ask your questions of us in the comments section too. Also, odds for winning are higher than most other awards for which you’ll ever apply.
From UC Davis:
-First is the great GSA Travel Award: deadlines in May/December and you can win every time. Plus, when you don’t apply, you should volunteer to judge, and see exactly what the award criteria are for your next application.
-The UCD Office of Graduate Studies offers a generous conference Travel Award, which you can win once. Still, one pile of free money is better than zero piles of free money.
-Make sure to apply for the UCD Internal Fellowships every November. You make a common application that gets submitted to multiple fellowships based on certain information about you (from your program to your social/ethnic background). This is how Ling Wong, Sam Lockhart, and Julie Luu won Schwall fellowships for $5K each to spend on travel/research funds for a year! Whether your lab currently has funding or not, you should apply because it’s easy and painless. It is also NEVER TOO EARLY to apply — some fellowships are only eligible to students who have not yet advanced to candidacy, and others are only available only to those who have.
-The Society for Neuroscience also offers travel awards, if you have an abstract already accepted.
-Our local SfN Chapter also often has awards: see your SfN representative (Karen Zito just sent an email about this) for details.
From training courses / workshops.
From Uncle Sam:
-Of course, there are the well-known fellowships from NSF (years 1 + 2) and the NRSA F31(after advancing to candidacy) that can also support travel costs.
Do you homework — find specialized funding that fits you:
-Check out if the other conferences related to your field also have travel awards (they often do). For example, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society has a Graduate Travel Award, but requires submission of a poster and the winner to give a platform presentation at a symposium as well. But hey, that’s free publicity.
-Check whether professional associations related to your field (e.g. chemistry, biology) have awards. For example, the American Psychological Society and the American Psychological Association have awards. The Northern California/Nevada Alzheimer’s Association chapter offers awards for travel to their local conference, and there are also travel fellowships for the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (believe me, there is a lot of work not directly associated with AD there). There are funds from the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR/Glenn) if your work is even remotely related to aging.
-Check out whether relevant publishers give out awards. For example, there is an award from the publisher of Cognitive Neuropsychology for travel to any related conference.
-Find organizations (usually non-profits) who fund patient work related to your field. It helps to start paying attention to the last slide in speaker’s presentations, where they acknowledge their funding sources.
-Speaking of foundations, the ARCS fellowship makes a call for applications every November or so, which you submit through the graduate program. Jimmy Dooley won $10K this year!
We acknowledge this list is cog/aging-heavy; please add your thoughts in the comments. This is far from an exhaustive list. Finally, read the emails you get from Cristeta! They may feel like spam, but there are funding opportunities hidden in them!
-Sam Lockhart, with contributions by Andrea Quintero, Ling Wong, Anahiti Hamidi, Rick Addante