Fellowships to support public health research project?
September 10, 2018 8:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm designing a public health research project for Central Asia next summer, and am hoping to find resources to guide me / new fellowships, grants, programs, etc to fund my research. Hope me...***

Hi M-Filter,

Pretty much as the lid says: I am in a post-bacc program atm (considered a "5th year undergraduate" according to the FedLoan folks) and am planning on designing a research project from Summer 2019. I think I can apply for a Fulbright research fellowship, and have looked into Rotary Club options as well, but need more guidance here. Are there any short-term research grants surrounding public health work that I can apply for? I am not sure if I could apply for things like the Boren, FLAS, etc and then use my "free time" outside of the language-learning stipulations to conduct my research, orrr...?
Running through my options, any leads much appreciated, thank you!
posted by erattacorrige to Education (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In what area of public health is your project? Epi, maternal and child health, vaccination, health care access/policy, etc. etc. There are some large foundations that fund public health work, but they tend to focus on certain areas (and I’m not sure if they do one off/short term grants). Also, you might consider looking for Central Asia-specific funding agencies.
posted by MadamM at 9:30 AM on September 10, 2018

I have lots of thoughts on this (I do research in a region near Central Asia, I'm on the Fulbright Committee for my U, I had 2 Fulbrights, multiple FLAS, lots of other funding in the region).

Based on your previous question, it seems that your primary goal is to get to Central Asia, so I am going to tailor my answers toward that. But is your bigger goal to do some graduate school work? That plays in here as well in terms of the opportunities.

* You are very tight on the Fulbright deadline. Check with your undergrad university, but at the university that I teach at, we are doing interviews in 2 weeks, which makes me think that the deadline has passed or will pass soon. And the proposal applications are time consuming. But, your university Fulbright people are very likely to be incredibly helpful to you, even if you are not on campus/graduated. Use them as a resource and do everything that they say for your application.

* Technically Fulbright student programs (which you are eligible for even if you're not enrolled in school) have a slight preference for people that haven't had experience in the region before. However, in practical terms, at the interview stage, many interviewers (including myself) tend to bend on this because we don't want to send bright-eyed bushy-tailed young people to an environment that they have no idea about. But keep this in mind that you may have to walk that balance. We sometimes interview people that we get the sense that they used to be in Country X and just really want to get back there because they loved it. These people tend to not move to the next stage. (There is also a sub-category of people that have heritage in Country X and want to have some sort of emotional return to the fatherland. Those people tend to be rejected even more so.)

* The Fulbright student proposal needs to seem feasible (I'm not talking about the English language teaching program). I'd estimate that a handful of folks walk in the door either without a plan or with a plan that is far too ambitious. Be in the middle. Moreover the proposal needs to be "Embassy friendly" - this is a USG program and the Embassy people do have some say in the applicants. This means that potentially controversial research is sometimes not approved. Public health will likely be an appealing area though.

* To that point, I'd strongly encourage you to seek direct advice from people doing public health research in the country that you're interested in. They may be able to help you identify some good areas of interest, potentially some contacts in-country, etc. However, if you're trying to do this in the coming week for the Fulbright deadline, beware. If a student that I didn't know emailed me out of the blue seeking help for something to turn in a week or two later, I'd be annoyed.

* With Fulbright student programs, the goal isn't do to amazing original research per se, although some applicants do propose that. What we do look for is that you have some in-country organization/institution that is "sponsoring" (not money but with space/attention) you. Some countries, but not all, actually require that there is an in-country sponsoring organization for a student. (I don't know the rules year to year, but in my experience, the more remote the country, the more likely it is that a sponsoring organization is required.) Regardless of the rules, I almost always reject applicants that don't have a sponsoring organization - actually I cannot think of an exception to this, except perhaps giving people a one week extension to try to secure one. It can take a long time to get those agreements, so start working on it ASAP. One needs to build a relationship with that organization, demonstrate to the organization that they will be little trouble, and then get a letter in English about the commitment. It can be an NGO, a university, perhaps some sort of health organization, etc. (I once had an applicant that had a sponsorship with a hospital and did a neat project for Wii exercise for children with diabetes. That was very appealing as a proposal. But he had the head of the hospital and the head of research for the hospital and the lead pediatric doctor all write letters agreeing that they'd sponsor him.)

* FLAS -- so FLAS is an important part of funding for this part of the world. FLAS will provide you with a very comfortable amount of funding as long as you're doing language study. There are both academic-year FLAS fellowships and summer intensive fellowships. From your wording above it seemed like you might mean a summer intensive FLAS that would get you into the country. The in-country FLAS for a year-long program are fairly rare. Most FLASes are academic-year, done by a university and would require you to apply for an MA there.
I've had a few MA students that I supervise that try to do their thesis research while doing a FLAS in-country and fail miserably. The intensive programs in particular are intensive. Indeed, I wrote my MA thesis while doing an intensive FLAS program and while my thesis was okay, my FLAS class grades were not.

* Boren -- IMHO Boren is a bit of a risk. The post-fellowship mandate to work in government sometimes is hard for people. I know a number of folks that had a hard time finding a job that fulfilled their obligation. Look closely into this.

* There are many other short term research travel opportunities for the region, but I suspect that without a university affiliation and some sort of status "doing dissertation research," etc., you would have a difficult time obtaining one. It isn't impossible, but I cannot think of any examples in my own circles. These are all part of the US DOS Title VIII program. Different organizations administer the grants. The funding has been on and off for the last ~5 years though. I actually had one rescinded because of funding, which was a bummer.
Here's a link to American Councils' 3-month program. Here's a 2-month program through NCEER. Here's a 1-month, but in DC.
I'd suggest subscribing to email updates for all of the various Title VIII organizations in case an opportunity comes up.
posted by k8t at 10:27 AM on September 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

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