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Research Opportunities

Vanderbilt’s arts and science students use advanced technologies that range from a state-of-the-art language laboratory to tissue culture facilities and mass spectrometers. Computer facilities include VUnet, the campuswide data network that connects all residence-hall rooms and provides access to the Internet. The Heard Library is among the nation’s top research facilities. Students have access to more than 3 million volumes, over 12,000 e-journals, hundreds of electronic databases, and a large collection of maps, sound recordings, CDs, and DVDs. An ever-increasing number of resources are available electronically.

Undergraduate Research

All undergraduates at Vanderbilt may pursue original research in a number of different formats, including:

Independent Study/ Reading, Directed Research, Directed/Independent Laboratory Research, and other 1:1 student-faculty tutorial arrangements

These curricular options are generally reserved for upperclass students. Interested students should consult the homepage of the department or program in which they wish to work for information on how to proceed.

Research Conference Funds

The College of Arts and Science has a fund to help support undergraduates who present their research at academic conferences. Eligible students may receive up to $400.00 each in reimbursement for travel to conferences at which they are presenting original research. These awards are available only to students whose home school is the College of Arts and Science; their faculty mentors may be from any Vanderbilt school.

To be considered for an award, a student should provide a brief letter in which s/he describes the research project to be presented and the value of the conference. The student letter must be accompanied by a letter of support from a faculty member in the student's major department or program, as well as verification that the student is listed in the conference program (e.g., a link to the conference program). Requests must be made and approved prior to travel for a student to be eligible for support. Each student is eligible for one award per academic year, and the total number of awards is limited.

A student requesting funds must deliver a complete application at least 10 calendar days before the first day of the conference. Students may deliver applications to 350 Buttrick. Applications received fewer than 10 calendar days in advance of the conference may not be funded.

Students who plan to travel to research conferences outside the US should learn about and register for International SOS:

Academic Travel Policy

Conference and research travel is a grey area; most such travel can be approved at the level of the instructor/adviser/department chair. Students are asked to leave travel plans and contact information with their department and/or adviser. The Graduate School requires such review if any University funds will be used for such travel.

Vanderbilt Undergraduate Summer Research Program

The goal of the VUSRP is to enhance joint student-faculty research efforts. The major component of the program is the scholarly work done by a student in collaboration with a full-time faculty member. Eligible students compete for summer research stipends which will support them during the annual ten-week summer program. For information on how to apply, consult the homepage of the VUSRP at

Littlejohn Family Undergraduate Research Program

For many years, Leslie and Angus Littlejohn Jr. have focused their philanthropic efforts on education, a reflection of their belief that it is the primary tool to empower individuals, irrespective of social or economic background, to make a positive difference in society.

The Littlejohns’ son, Angus III (AS’07), came up with the original concept for the Littlejohn Faculty Fellows Program, which has been an important part of the Vanderbilt University Summer Research Program (VUSRP) for more than five years. Within the VUSRP, those projects deemed “best in class” each summer are designated as Littlejohn Faculty Fellows. Angus Jr. and Leslie both agreed the VUSRP concept was in keeping with their belief that the ability to provide innovative opportunities at the beginning of an educational experience is an effective way to inspire and engage young scholars.

Now, the Littlejohn family has provided funding to make possible similar possibilities during the academic year for students working with faculty members in the College of Arts and Science. The goal of the Littlejohn Family Undergraduate Research Program is to provide financial resources for A&S faculty members to involve undergraduate students in their research projects in intentional and significant ways. The program reflects Vanderbilt’s belief that great research and teaching work together, hand in hand.

After careful consideration, the Littlejohn family will shift these funds to the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Summer Research Program (VUSRP), as of summer 2016; this will provide additional support to faculty-student collaborative research carried out during the summers. We in Arts & Science very much appreciate the Littlejohns' support for the academic year program in 2013-14, 2014-15, and 2015-16.

The 2015-16 Littlejohn Faculty Fellows were selected in August 2015; information about their projects appears below.

Professor Jo-Anne Bachorowski, Department of Psychology
Student: Xueting "Hattie" Zhang (A&S, 2016)
Project: "Laughing Matters: Laugh Acoustics, Biological Maturation, and Social-Emotional Fluency"

Professor Julián Hillyer, Department of Biological Sciences
Students: Ravi Chintapalli (A&S, S16); Julia Suggs (A&S, S16)
Project: “Hormonal Regulation of the Accessory Pulsatile Organs (Auxiliary Hearts) of Mosquitoes”

Professor Lynn Ramey, Department of French and Italian
Student: Rachel Sapp (A&S, S17)
Project: "An Annotated Electronic Edition of Jean Bodel's 13th Century Poem Les Congé"

Professor Jonathan Rattner, Program in Cinema and Media Arts
Student: Hillary Good (A&S, S16)
Project: Post-production work on experimental film "The Interior" (focused on a dog-musher in Alaska)