NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin State University's College of Liberal and Applied Arts partnered with the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs to encourage faculty members to apply for grants by sponsoring a grant-writing competition. The competition tasked faculty members with finding a source of at least $25,000 in grant funding for the 2018 calendar year and presenting a preliminary research prospectus to the dean's office.

The dean's office selected five finalists, who will work closely with the ORSP throughout the summer and fall to craft their final applications. The finalists will be awarded a $2,000 stipend to help with their efforts, contingent on completion of the grant application and review by the ORSP and the College of Liberal and Applied Arts' dean's office.

"The competition is to encourage faculty members to explore grants as a resource supplement to support teaching, scholarship and program development," said Dr. Brian Murphy, dean of the College of Liberal and Applied Arts at SFA. "Faculty in the liberal arts have fewer grants available to them, and the grants they do have are highly competitive."

The competition and ORSP's support will help faculty members learn about the grant-writing process and identify funding sources, Murphy said. The ORSP will provide the finalists a general orientation to the grant-writing process and help them with some of the more intangible aspects that can aid their proposals.

"We'll assess their grant capabilities, like whether or not they've written one before or have been a co-investigator, and if they have a good mentor to help them develop their research components," said Jennifer Hanlon, interim director of the ORSP. "Once we do that, we'll tailor our assistance to their specific needs.

"We plan on helping the finalists develop a timeline for their proposal components and a budget, draft letters of support, offer data management plans, and oversee the submission," Hanlon said. "We're in a supportive and instructive role. Hopefully, this will ease some of the daunting aspects of the grant-writing process."

The finalists comprise a broad spectrum of disciplines and research goals, representing the number of research opportunities in the humanities and liberal arts.

Dr. Jose Carbajal, assistant professor in the School of Social Work

Carbajal proposes to research Eye Movement Desensitization and Processing, a method of treatment for PTSD and other trauma-induced disorders. The therapy combines bilateral eye movement, or stimulation, and psychotherapeutic memory, behavior and belief reprocessing. Carbajal plans to focus on the therapy's use of negative cognition and investigate how and if that mechanism enhances the treatment's efficacy.

Dr. John C. Pruit, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, Geography and Sociology

Pruit will research first-generation college students and their experiences, challenges and development during their first-year of college. The proposed research will benefit the SFA community in a couple of ways: first, by adding to the body of research centered on the first-generation college student experience; second, by identifying programs and departments that help first-generation students and helping those departments and programs orient their students more successfully to college life.

Dr. Sudeshna Roy, assistant professor in the Department of Languages, Culture and Communication

Roy's research will focus on media coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis. She will analyze data that will help the international community understand refugee communities, race, ethnicity, transnationalism, marginalization, discrimination and national identity of people displaced from their war-torn countries.

Drs. Courtney Wooten and Megan Condis, assistant professors in the Department of English and Creative Writing

Condis and Wooten's proposal involves the digital humanities, a relatively modern research avenue that focuses on the intersection of technology and traditional research in the humanities and social sciences. Condis and Wooten's grant application will be used to remodel current classrooms into more interactive labs, where students and faculty members from different disciplines can come and collaborate. It's the first step in increasing the capability for research in the digital humanities at SFA.

Competition finalists will be expected to complete their grant proposal by the end of the 2017 fall semester. The finalists will then submit their grants to their respective funding institutions for approval during the 2018 spring and summer semesters.