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The Jeffrey Boettcher Fund Application

The Jeffrey Boettcher Fund for Field Study in Biology was established to assist Michigan State University undergraduates undertake personal study and research. The Fund honors the memory of Jeff Boettcher, who attended MSU and wanted to become a professional biologist. The Fund is intended to help other students have the benefits of experiences he so much enjoyed.

Three prioritized categories of projects are supported by the Fund. Usually, projects in all three categories are funded. Projects may be formal courses, independent study, original research, or any other sort of scholarly activity. The priority categories are:

1. Projects that involve off-campus field study in marine biology and/or invertebrate biology (study at Kellogg Biological Station is included);

2. Projects focused on invertebrates or aquatic vertebrates (freshwater or marine) with 50% or more of project time spent in the field (on or off campus) rather than laboratories;

3. Projects of any other sort that focus on biological study with an emphasis on the outdoors/field.

This description is intended to answer many of the questions you might have concerning the Fund. If questions remain, do not hesitate to contact the Chairperson of the Awards Committee (via Department of Integrative Biology, Michigan State University). 


To be eligible for an award from the Fund, you must be an undergraduate student at Michigan State University at the time of application, and you must be an undergraduate, graduate, or other classification of student at the University at the time your funded project is carried out.

Award Criteria 

Five factors are paramount in determining whether an application is successful:

1. The merit of the planned project

2. The quality (e.g., clarity and specificity) of the application itself

3. The preparation of the student to profit from the project

4. Evidence of the student's commitment to academic achievement

5. The ability of the Fund to make a significant monetary contribution to the project budget.

Preference is given to students who are at least half way through their undergraduate program of study; applicants at earlier stages should be especially explicit in explaining their preparation for their planned project. Financial need is not usually a factor; most awards are made without evidence of financial need. However, students who demonstrate financial need may receive exceptional levels of funding.

Amount of Funding Available

Awards are usually in the range of $300-$1,000. Requests for more than $1,000, unless thoroughly justified, may actually decrease your chances of receiving an award because the Awards Committee ordinarily avoids making commitments to projects that lack complete budgets. The Awards Committee strives for fairness in all ways. Sometimes, if required by fairness to all applicants, an award may exceed the amount requested.

Awards Contingent on Full Funding

Although an application might be successful in the competition, the applicant’s project will not actually be funded unless the project is actually carried out as described. Thus, applicants should ensure that the sum total of all their available funds will match the total of their costs. A place to show this match is on the application form.

Communications with the Boettcher Family

Award recipients are encouraged to communicate with Jeff Boettcher's family. Communication of this sort provides an important opportunity to experience the spirit of this memorial fund.


All application materials, including required letters of recommendation, are due on or before March 15, 2022. All materials can be submitted online using the form below except for the Letters of Recommendation.

Letters of Recommendation should be emailed directly to Eila Roberts (eroberts@msu.edu) by the letter writers. Letters will be treated confidentially by the awards committee. 

Applications must be made on the application form that follows. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Please be certain to respond to all questions, provide a budget, and submit all necessary additional documents.

Questions about eligibility or other aspects of making application should be directed to the Chairperson of the Awards Committee. If you need extra time, the Awards Committee will try to accommodate you, but to be considered you must contact the Chairperson of the Awards Committee in advance. The Chairperson ise Eila Roberts (eroberts@msu.edu).

Announcement of Awards

Awards are usually announced by the Awards Committee about 10 days following the deadline date.

Important Notices

It is your responsibility to ensure that all application materials are in the possession of the Awards Committee on time.

Summary of Project Attributes
Is your project focused on marine biology?*
Is your project focused on invertebrate biology?*
Is your project focused on aquatic vertebrates?*
Will your project be conducted mostly off-campus?*
Will at least 50% of your project be fieldwork? *
If less than 50%, is their an outdoor emphasis?*
Describe in detail the study or research you plan to undertake. Specify your goals and projected activities.
Describe the ways in which you expect to profit from your proposed project. Refer where appropriate to your past experiences and future goals.

Project Budget

Please provide a full itemized list of all costs of your project (e.g., tuition, books, supplies, travel, room, board, etc.).

Itemize all sources of funds. The sum of the funds listed must at least equal the total of the costs listed above. Possible sources of funds include: the Boettcher Fund, personal savings, contributions from parents, scholarships, etc. For each source, list the expected amount. Also, for each source indicate if the funds are already certain, or if you are unsure about the availability of funds.

Financial Need

Students are eligible for funding regardless of financial need. If you have special financial need and want to be considered for exceptional funding based on financial need, you must provide evidence of need.

The Awards Committee allows several options for establishing need. Formal evidence of need (e.g., tax returns, financial-aid documents) is ordinarily required for you to be eligible for exceptional funding based on financial need. If you provide only a verbal description of need, recognize that the Awards Committee is unlikely to accept that as adequate evidence.

Academic Record

Note: You may submit a copy of your transcripts rather than an original.
Academic References

Ask two people who are familiar with your academic work or other academic activities at the university to submit letters of evaluation of your ability to carry out and profit from your proposed project. Potential letter writers include professors, graduate teaching assistants, and academic employers. Although only brief letters are required, letter writers should feel free to write at whatever length they desire. Letters are to be confidential. 

Letters of Reference Submission Instructions

Letters of reference can be sent by letter writers directly to:

Ms. Janet Hershberger
Department of Integrative Biology
 (517) 432-9817

Alternatively, a letter can be sealed in an envelope by the letter writer and given to the applicant for delivery to Ms. Hershberger. Be certain your letter writers know the deadline date, and check with them to ensure that their letters are submitted on time. 

Please Provide the Below Information About Your References

Affirmations and Agreements

The Awards Committee agrees to give your application full consideration and to treat all of your application materials in confidence. By submitting this application you agree to the following:

1. You affirm that all information provided in this application is accurate to the best of your knowledge.

2. You grant the Awards Committee the right to verify the accuracy of your academic record.

3. You agree that if you receive funds from the Jeffrey Boettcher Fund for Field Study in Biology, you will account for your use of the funds as requested by the Michigan State University Foundation (fund manager).

4. You agree that if you receive funds from the Jeffrey Boettcher Fund for Field Study in Biology, you will submit to the Chairperson of the Awards Committee, within 45 days after the end of your project, a one-page report on your accomplishments during your project. You agree that the Awards Committee may share this report with the Boettcher family. 

5. You understand that if funds are awarded, they will be for the specific project that you have described in this application. Thus, you understand that you will need to refuse or return the funds if the project cannot be consummated as stated for any reason.