Would you like $10K to do your own research?


As I write the title of this blog I realize that it is eerily similar to the subject line of emails that typically end up in my SPAM folder. Trust me, this is not SPAM, and in fact if you are a current undergraduate applicant to Johns Hopkins University or planning to apply in the future this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss out on. The $10,000 for conducting your own research that I am referring to is the Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellowship that freshmen applicants to Johns Hopkins University are eligible to apply for. Details on applying can be found here: http://apply.jhu.edu/wilson/wilson_form_2011.html.

The Woodrow Wilson fellowship is one of the unique opportunities at Johns Hopkins University that I always enjoy speaking to prospective students and families about for a number of reasons. First, people often have never heard of it. Second, the idea of funding research, especially for first-year students, represents the vision of the university so well. And third, the various Wilson projects are some of the best stories to tell about Hopkins students and their achievements. Just in the past few years, Wilson research fellows have:

  • Written, produced and directed a full-length play that enjoyed a successful run in Chicago.
  • Investigated female circumcision and obstetric fistula in Africa
  • Researched the potential uses of adult neural stem cells
  • Traced the iconography of an unclassified tile from the Archaeological Museum
  • Explored the viability of high speed rail systems in the U.S.
  • Studied gene expression in Down syndrome
  • Filmed a documentary about the Jewish community of Malta
  • Analyzed the rise of megachurches in the U.S. and the U.K.
  • Investigated the causes of childhood blindness
  • Explored the history of Baroque music and original Baroque instruments
  • Studied the best practices of organ donation around the world
  • Compared maternal and neonatal health in the U.S. and India

What might you have in mind? The specifics: the fellowship is a $10,000 stipend over four years to spend on research costs, which may include travel, equipment, and use of archives or laboratories. Students are assigned a faculty mentor to help as they select a topic, create an action plan, and pursue their research project. Fellows may choose to work within one field or undertake projects in diverse areas of study. In their senior year, Fellows publicly present their work to the Johns Hopkins community.

The Woodrow Wilson Fellowship website has extensive information about the program and the accomplishments of past fellows: http://krieger.jhu.edu/woodrowwilson/. I encourage checking out the following pages:

This is truly a unique opportunity and one not replicated at other colleges and universities. Don’t take my word for it though. I asked a few current Fellows I know well to speak on what the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship means to them and their connection to Johns Hopkins University:

Tess Thomas – Sophomore (Class of 2014) – History major
I think I would have ended up at Hopkins even if I hadn’t been offered the Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship, but it certainly made my decision an easy one. Who could pass up the allure of $10,000 to be spent on any project of your choosing? Additionally, the fact that this fellowship is not limited to student studying the natural sciences confirmed for me the university’s commitment to the humanities.  I couldn’t believe that as an intended history major I had been offered this amazing opportunity. I am planning to use my funding to study the effects of the 2012 Olympics on British nationalism. My research is taking me to London this upcoming summer—a trip that is completely covered by the Wilson Fellowship. The WWP has allowed me to combine two life-long dreams of mine: studying abroad and attending an Olympic Games.

Noah Guiberson – Sophomore (Class of 2014) – Biology, Neuroscience majors
For my Wilson, I am currently working with a post-doc at the School of Medicine, doing research in neuroprotection and studying the mechanism and consequences of a particular microRNA’s over-expression and knockout. What we’ve found thus far is that when the gene is over-expressed, excitotoxic cell death in a hippocampal stroke model is diminished by as much as half compared to the control. Another interest that I intend to pursue as a Wilson Fellow is the use of optogenetic techniques in the treatment of cancer, and the development of tumor-specific delivery mechanisms. The Wilson Fellowship provides me with the funding I need to conduct my research, as well as the mentorship and administrative support I need in order to conduct it most effectively.

Ruthie Chen – Freshman (Class of 2015) – English, Spanish majors
The Woodrow Wilson Fellowship definitely played a significant role in my decision to attend Hopkins. After meeting some senior Fellows at SOHOP in April and hearing about their current research endeavors, I realized that this fellowship was truly unique in the breadth and variety of opportunities that are so readily available to us. I was particularly struck by the passion and sense of academic and personal fulfillment that each Fellow shared. From tracking an archaeological tile to Tunisia to studying the international reception of The Great Gatsby in various European countries, the research projects are so intensely varied and intriguing that, as a freshman, I’m still a little overwhelmed by how many different avenues I can pursue in my next four years as a Wilson Fellow.

If you want even more information about the Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program, here are additional links:

Don’t miss out on your chance to get a lot of money to establish yourself as a bona fide researcher.

26 thoughts on “Would you like $10K to do your own research?

  1. Excuse me,
    Is the Wilson Fellowship above available only to Art&Science School students and applicants?

    I’ve submitted my application to Whiting and BME is my best match..My prospective project plan was abbreviated but I found that”Art&Science”.

    Does Whiting also provide some similar fellowship? Or do I need other methods to support my freshman research?

    Appreciating any reply :)

  2. Soooorry I found what I typed above somewhat confusing.

    You could neglect the “My prospective project plan was abbreviated” coz there were no need for me to shorten it. I just wondered the availability of the fellowship for firstyear applicant to Whiting.

    Thank you sincerely!

  3. @Haochuan Wei:
    You are correct, only students intending on enrolling in a major in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences are eligible for the Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship. Students interested in engineering majors are not eligible for the fellowship but will have the chance to apply for research positions once a student at Johns Hopkins.

  4. Hi,
    I have already applied for the Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship…
    I was wondering whether the acceptance to the fellowship program will be mailed/emailed along with the 2016 ED class acceptance..? or should we wait till next spring?

    Also, how competitive is the Woodrow Fellowship? ex) how many freshmen are selected, etc


  5. @David:
    Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship program decisions are made at the end of March and released when regular decision notifications are released. Early Decision applicants who are admitted will be notified if they have been selected as a Wilson fellow at the end of March.

    Approximately 20-30 Woodrow Wilson fellows are selected each year. As far as how competitive it is, that depends on how many students apply and that number varies greatly from year to year.

  6. I am an ED applicant. Would you recommend me to submit the application now or after the ED decision? Does the submission have any bearing on the admission evaluation?

  7. @applicant1: The deadline to apply for the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship is January 1, 2012 for all applicants, ED and RD. The Wilson fellowship application is not part of the overall application reviewed for admission.

  8. This question is unrelated to this thread but for some reason I couldn’t log in the Hopkins Forum. I was elected to the National Honor Society after my app submission. I know the review is holistic and a single achievement won’t make a difference. I can also imagine that my JH regional admission director is very occupied at the momnt. Should I inform her/him through email on this?

  9. @applicant1: If you are having difficulties with the Hopkins Forums, you should review this tutorial: http://www.hopkins-interactive.com/forums/how-to-use-the-forums/

    As far as submitting an update to an application you have already submitted, please do not contact your regional admissions counselor. We do not process update submitted through email. To provide an update to a previously submitted application you must either mail or fax (410-516-6025) it to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

  10. Wow! This sounds crazy and awesome at the same time!
    I am planning to go to JHU School of Medicine and have in fact applied to JHU for regular this year.
    I have a very strong interest in biochemistry research, and want to indeed pursue one as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow.

    By any chance (this is not the reason I am applying for this fellowship. I really have a passion for research), but would this fellowship play any role in affecting my admission to the med school?

  11. @Ryan C
    We do not collect data on whether Woodrow Wilson fellows have a “better chance” for acceptance to medical school, law school, or other professional programs. Obviously, having the opportunity to do independent research during one’s undergraduate years and receiving $10,000 from the university is going to be a big part of a student’s resume when applying to professional schools. Also, there is no link between the Woodrow Wilson and acceptance to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, as there are no programs that guarantee or improve a student’s chances for acceptance to our School of Medicine.

  12. Does Johns Hopkins School of Medicine provide statistics/profiles of students who are admitted? Such as: which undergrad did most of them attend? Which medical schools (top 3) do the majority of Johns Hopkins premeds attend?

    This is out of topic.

  13. Thank you for your response. I figured the fellowship would indeed play a big part on one’s application to professional schools as med school.
    By the way, can you elaborate on Suzy Bacon Fellowship that I was happened to see from the JHU news article?

  14. @Ryan C:
    The Suzy Bacon Fellowship is new and I don’t have any information about it. I do know it is something that is awarded after a student is enrolled at Hopkins, and not something that freshman applicants are considered for.

  15. Hi,
    I was accepted ED into the class of 2016 but I just finished applying to the Woodrow Wilson fellowship. Will I still be notified by the end of March or do I have to wait for regular decisions?
    Thank you,

  16. @Anup: All decisions about the Woodrow Wilson fellowship are released at the end of March when we release regular decision notifications. That means any admitted early decision student who applied for the Wilson will learn of their decision when regular decision notifications are released, not any earlier. Decisions are sent via postal mail, not via e-mail.

  17. do the fellows actually get to create and design their own experiments to test their ideas on topics like biology, chemistry, etc?

    Because usually the Principal Investigators give the students projects to work on…

  18. @Ryan C: The fellowship is for INDEPENDENT research, so yes the fellows get to choose their own topics and create their own research .

  19. oh… just out of curiosity, has there been any fellow whose name has been published in a journal as Nature or Science?? That’d be a pretty big deal…

  20. Many fellows complete their projects and have them published. I do not have a list of what journals and publications, but it is extensive. When provided $10,000 to do your own independent research at an institution like Johns Hopkins, many opportunities become available to you.

  21. I applied for the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, but I have not yet received an acceptance letter. Is it safe to assume that I did not get it? If so, can I still apply next year using the same research idea because I am really interested in that study (I am working on it now, and I wanted to continue my research)?
    What do the admission department base their decision on – the topic or…something else?
    Thank you for your time and all.

  22. @SP: All students who were awarded the Woodrow Wilson fellowship have been contacted. Students can apply for the Wilson fellowship as freshmen and details can be found here: http://krieger.jhu.edu/woodrowwilson/apply/index1.html. Decisions about the Wilson fellowship are not made by the Office of Admissions but a faculty panel so therefore we can not provide details on what they are looking for.

  23. Is there a particular requirement that you must meet to even have a slight chance at getting accepted for this fellowship(like already doing your own research?)

  24. @Ayesha: The only requirements to be considered for the Woodrow Wilson fellowship are that a student complete the fellowship application online, be admitted to the University, and select a major in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Previous research experiences is not a requirement.

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