Louise Wilson, MA and BSc Zoology, University of Glasgow
Raising Funds for Research from Scottish Charities
It was during my undergraduate years that I first explored the possibilities that funding from external sources such as charities and trusts might offer me. I studied Zoology at the University of Glasgow, and after my third year, had a strong desire to carry out my final year project on Verreaux's sifaka, an arboreal lemur endemic to Madagascar, but not found anywhere else. This naturally would mean spending a length period of time in Madagascar, and the considerable associated expenses of flights, accommodation, equipment, and vaccinations.
I soon learned of the School of Life Sciences Vacation Scholarship awarded by the University of Glasgow. In order to apply for this, I had to detail my reasons for travelling so far for research purposes, the importance of my study, my personal financial circumstances, and the quality of my progress so far in my degree. I was fortunate enough to be awarded £1,000. This award from my university was invaluable in its own right, but more importantly, gave me the confidence to search elsewhere for other funders. I started by researching the possibilities available for students in my local area, and discovered the Spier's Trust through a word of mouth recommendation from my Mother. This charity supports individuals living in North Ayrshire, where I grew up, and also provides financial support to enable those from less well off backgrounds pursuing educational and research ends. For this application I had to again outline my financial circumstances and my motivation for travelling to Madagascar for my project, and justification of the importance of my research.
At this time, I was also volunteering with a member of the Glasgow Natural History Society, who made me aware of the Blodwen Lloyd Binns Fund that the Society awards. As part of my application, I was required to submit a supporting statement from a colleague at the society, along with details of my project, my motivations for completing the work and producing a manuscript for later publication. By searching online, I then also discovered The Cross Trust, who award grants to people of Scottish birth who are in financial need, especially when travelling or doing research. Again I had to outline my financial circumstances, and the importance of my research. Throughout these applications, I feel my success was facilitated by coherently and concisely setting out my needs and financial circumstances, and articulating thoroughly my enthusiasm and interest. As the Verreaux's sifaka is endangered and not especially well understood in the Zoological area I was studying, I made it the centrepiece of funding applications. This enabled me to easily emphasise the importance and justification of my research.
We think that Louise's story shows the value in looking for charitable support locally. All three of her charities were for Scottish students, and the first two aimed at more specific localities within Scotland. We also think that the focus on the Verreaux's sifaka is an excellent example of anchoring your applciations around something 'real life' and concrete that member's of the public (i.e. charity trustees) will be enthusied by.