Make your idea a reality
Every year, VCUarts awards $30,000 for undergraduate research and innovation projects.
Undergraduate Research and Innovation Grants
Every year, VCUarts awards a total of $30,000 in grants to support undergraduate innovation and entrepreneurship.
Here’s why you should apply:
- Receive up to $5,000 in grant funding to develop an interdisciplinary project, product or service.
- Average awards for interdisciplinary projects are $1,850.
- Use your talents, skills and passions in unexpected places.
- Spark curiosity, creativity, risk-taking and investigation.
- Enhance your coursework through thought-provoking discussions and hands-on experience with a team of peers and faculty mentors.
About Undergraduate Research and Innovation Grants
Undergraduate Research Grants
These grants encourage cross-disciplinary work and promote faculty/student collaboration. They’re open to applicants seeking funding to complete research or creative work that is interdisciplinary, involves student collaboration and draws on the expertise of a faculty mentor.
James R. Gregory Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Projects with an entrepreneurial focus are eligible for the James R. Gregory Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. You can win up to $5,000 to develop a product or service that has strong potential to become a sustainable business model. Awardees will be provided with workspace in the Center for Creative Economy and have access to a network of faculty and industry mentors in addition to those on your application.
Participating faculty mentors selected by each interdisciplinary team receive a $500 research stipend.
For questions about the Undergraduate Innovation Grant or the Gregory Prize, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The application period is now closed.
Contemporary Art Practices Class at Open High School
The team plans to teach a weekly arts class focused on fiber and sculpture techniques—specifically the crossover between traditional craftsmanship and contemporary making—at Open High School in the Oregon Hill neighborhood of Richmond.
The team plans to start a publishing company, “Other Publishing,” as a pan-Asian queer publishing group focusing on creating a professional, international, intersectional, elevated design spaces for queer and transgender people of color.
22 Percent: A Disintegrating Data Visualization
The land known as “Historic Palestine,” which remains under Palestinian control today, is commonly referred to as approximately “22 percent.” This project will explore the dissolution of Palestinian land since the founding of Israel through a performance combining dance, theater, animation and music.
The team will develop a permanent library and corresponding online archive of various wood, fiber, and ceramic material and technical samples as a resource for students and faculty in the VCUarts Fine Arts Building (FAB).
Familial Movers / Foreign Stories
Combining research in Dance + Choreography, Photography + Film, and Empathy + Embodiment within Virtual Reality, the team proposes creating an immersive virtual reality narrative experience that allows the participant/viewer to embody one of six performers, physically following their journey as well as hearing the experience(s) that inspired their performed trajectory.
Here Lies Beatrice
The team’s mission is to shoot a short narrative on 16mm film—a highly stylized, alternative form to the more widely-used 35mm format. This project will expose team members to a crew size and budget that closely reflects the resources indie filmmakers have in the industry today.
She is an experimental, short film about a young woman whose dreams reflect her struggle to categorize her sexuality, spirituality and mental health. She will premiere at Grace Street Theater in May 2019.
This project will be a large-scale installation and mixed media exhibition that will allow patrons to experience the effects of altered perceptions of time. The video installation will act as the actual “time machine” by using a combination of audio and visuals that play with time perception.
TYPE 4 Inc.
TYPE 4 will be a print and digital format magazine about fashion and lifestyle. It will be designed for artists, creatives, influencers, entrepreneurs—anyone under that umbrella who is also a dark-skinned person of color.
James R. Gregory Prize for Creative Entrepreneurship
Programming for the Creative Autistic Individual
The team aims to develop a program for use by K-12 educators, for the purpose of helping children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to acquire various artistic skills and techniques. Such skills will be applicable across various artistic genres and skill levels.
VR Bullying Intervention
The team seeks to develop a third iteration of VR Intervention Content for students within the VCU community. Using virtual reality simulation, the team’s mission is to reduce the impact of bullying in school environments while encouraging empathetic bonds via the improvement of students’ safe bully intervention skills.
Through video and animation, the team will create a short narrative neo-Western film inside a painted, wallpapered, sculptural TV studio set. The film will respond to collective research into the myth of the nomadic cowboy by subverting the West with gendered interiority.
Award: $ 1,349
Building a Rotational Caster
The team will construct a variable-speed rotational caster to create and exhibit a collaborative body of work centered around hollow-casted plastic, rubber, and glass pieces. The machine and the team’s findings will be available for Sculpture and Crafts students in the future as a supplement to flexible mold-making, foundry and kiln-forming glass curricula.
Award: $ 2,661
Virginia State Park Printmaking
The goal of this project will be to showcase the beauty of Virginia’s State Parks while exploring two traditional printing techniques. The project will create a series of posters that help illustrate what the parks have to offer, as a way of bringing awareness to the conservation efforts that have gone into preserving these pockets of Virginia.
48 Hour Film Fest at VCU
The 48-Hour Film Fest at VCU is a fast-paced, engaging creative quest that will occur
over one weekend in February 2018. Over the course 48 hours, 10 teams will work to write, shoot, and edit short films in advance of a public screening of all films at Grace Street Theatre.
Homecoming is an evening length dance performance that will showcase several artistic voices responding to experiences of leaving and returning home, returning to self—contending with one’s identity and voice in the face of oppression, and the understanding of motherhood through storytelling and movement abstraction.
The Hush Behind the Lips
The project is a short film inspired by a true story of sexual abuse that happened to the filmmaker of the piece during his childhood. The film explores the effects of sexual abuse on both men and women in developing countries such as modern Iran. The film is intended to raise awareness and develop a sense of empathy through sharing a personal story based on a personal trauma.
Award: $ 2,785
The Historical Richmond Coloring Book
The team will create a coloring book based on the diverse history of Richmond. The goal of this project is to increase the knowledge of diversity and bring light to underrepresented communities in Richmond.
The team will host a series of four fiber workshops for LGBTQ teenagers in the Richmond area and teach wet felting, crochet, weaving, and sewing through the lens of understanding identity by making art.
Coyle, Cummings, & Lowe
This group will study an abandoned particle accelerator and present our findings in a multimedia installation that will engage the viewer in a conversation of scientific advancement, personal loss, and national unmet potential. Award: $2,535.54
This group will create an installation that explores the phenomena of jail construction. Award: $2,435
This endeavor will challenge and develop the way we work as dance artists by collaborating with students in different disciplines to support the process of producing an evening length dance performance. Award: $2,730
Capturing the Quadruped in Motion Capture Systems
This group plans to build upon the motion capture resources in the Depot by adding the capabilities for quadruped motion capture. Award: $915
Forgotten News, Forgotten Names
This team proposes a series of events to follow the initial public screening of “Hell You Talmbout,” co-directed by Denzel Boyd, including a screen printing session and a social dance workshop–engaging the community with the themes of the film. Award: $2,702
Vmodern Furniture Design
This team seeks to design a suite of handmade, non-traditional stools that provoke playfulness, imagination, and positive social interaction. Award: $1,645
The Fire Fawn
An innovative use of CGI will be employed to present the story of The Fire Fawn, which will screen at the end of the spring semester, 2017. Award: $1,850
Edmund the Snail – Stop Motion Animated Short Film
This team’s goal is to produce a stop motion short film titled Edmund the Snail, in which a little girl steps on a snail and is haunted by its ghost. Award: $1,500
Lumarium is an interactive sensory environment combining new media and tactility in a non-traditional exhibition experience. Award: $2,443
A Sustainable Digital Art Show
This group will address the problem of E-waste through an exemplary curated show of digital art that examines the implications of E-waste’s dispersion. Award: $1,900
The Unghosting of Black America: An Exploration of the Black Experience and Racial Relations through Visual Poetic Drama
Through the collaborative development of Visual Poetic Drama in a nontraditional theatre space, this project will investigate the portrayal of the black experience in a variety of forms (theatre, literature, and visual art). Award: $3,000
Shifting Focus on Identity, Community & Inclusivity “By what means do you understand yourself in the world?”
This group intends to film interviews in Richmond, Baltimore, New Haven and New York City to be digitally uploaded and accessed through a public website domain. Award: $530
2015 – 2016
The Drag Lab
The Drag Lab is a collaborative project with an initial focus on androgyny, fashion, identity, and cooperative art-making, the project seeks to communicate developments in gender performance through the lens of visual art. Award: $2,679
Frame Your Future
Partnering with Art180, the team will teach middle school students crafting techniques that will be applied to decorate a frame symbolizing their future. Award: $1,614
GeOh (mobile app)
The GeOh project will develop and release a social networking mobile application built on mapping technology, GPS and upvote/downvote systems to crowd source and show users the most relevant events in their location. Award: $1,822
Re-examining the Piano Action
This project will try to understand a sound phenomenon between skilled and novice piano players by using Fourier analysis to identify nuances in the sound produced by a variety of playing techniques. Award: $2,000
Coding Literacy in the Arts
The intent of this project is to form a community around programming in the arts through an interdisciplinary arts workshop with the necessary tools to build the systems that will bring algorithmic drawing into the physical world. Award: $2,138
Human vs. Nature Microscopic Exploration
This team of scientific illustration students will use a digital dissecting microscope with a camera to examine relationships between specimens, both natural and artificial, gathered from the VCU Monroe Park campus. Award: $2,550
Adorning the Censored Body
The team will create adornments for various women’s nipples and organize a performance exhibition of the work, inspired by the wearable art of Lauren Kalman. Award: $1,700
A Girl and Her Alpaca: An Animated Short Film
An interdisciplinary team is creating an animated short about a girl and her alpaca, revolving around the kindness of strangers, the sharing of traditions and the magic encountered through animation. Award: $1,760
Marriage of Metals
This team intends to facilitate a conversation about the mediums of printmaking and metalsmithing by breaking traditional barriers and experimenting with the application and integration of their respective techniques such as etching, chasing, and relief. Award: $1,700
Stand Up/Break Down
This team creates an original web series about a young woman in a spiraling quarter life crisis who decides to reinvent herself as a stand up comedian. The problem: no one thinks she’s funny. Award: $2,760
This team will research the harmful effects of fast fashion as it relates to sustainability, both on the fashion industry and the environment. Award: $1,645
2014 – 2015
This team, involving fine arts and engineering students, will be engaging the community through a series of performances using a portable rope-making mechanism modeled after 17th century Ropewalks which are long, narrow paths where ropes are manufactured. Award:
The Urban Forest
Attempting to solve the problem of trees in cities, with roots that break sidewalks and cause property damage by falling limbs and branches during a storm, this project is inspired by Natalie Jeremijenko’s 1999 work “Tree Logic.” Award: $3,337
This project combines the disciplines of music and psychology by studying mindfulness, an enhanced awareness to a present experience that has been found to increase information retention. Award: $3,500
This team will address the problem by handcrafting a board with less impact on the environment while maintaining the quality of mass produced boards. Award: $3,500
Postmodernism for Kids for Adults
A transdisciplinary art book will be produced that makes the abstract concepts of postmodern/contemporary art relatable and engaging to a wide audience. Award: $1,500
This team will send a werkblad (a fillable form) and handmade object (that resemble office supplies suggesting graphing, recording, measuring, or making a space) to participating studios. Award: $2,530
Interactive Children’s Concept Book
This team will develop a children’s concept book that incorporates technology to enhance a beginning reader’s learning experience. Award: $1,070
Architecture — Fashion Design
In an attempt to further understand the elements and fundamentals of architecture when applied to fashion design, a student from Interior Design will help a student from Fashion Design understand the core fundamentals such as proportion, scale, rhythm, circulation, and the process behind concept models and sketches. Award: $2,180
Satirical performance of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
This team will produce and perform a satirized version of popular musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, using comedy to mock and put a modern perspective on the gender insensitivities in the play as a way to explore societal norms at the beginning of the 20th century. Award: $2,750
Small Living Space
The shell of a short bus will serve as a social laboratory for creative and sustainable housing. Award: $3,000
2013 – 2014
Afghanistan’s Rubab – The Lion of Instruments
This project is intended to preserve and expose Afghan Classical Music by creating a smartphone application of Afghanistan’s national instrument, the Rubab. Team: Sulaiman Popal, Music, Matthew Hill, Computer Science. Award: $2,500
Richmond Auf Deutsch
Through both visual and historical research, and will reveal the Germanic roots of Richmond to the broader community. Team: Inga Schunn, Photography & Film, Bethany Gingrich, Craft/Material Studies with a minor in Art History. Award: $4,500
musicspace.edu: Education re-form through space and creativity
This project will study the effects of the current educational environments on the creative individual. Team: Chanel Hurt, Music, Anthony Martin, Interior Design, Christina Merritt, Psychology. Award: $5,000
Richmond’s Arts & Culture District: Documentary & Community Forums
Students will Investigate successful examples of cities that have transformed their artistic communities. Team: Lauren Cronan, Photography & Film, Gabby Namm, Film, David Reisinger, Film, Kim McNamee, Film, JiYoon Cha, Graphic Design, Beverly Ware, Mass Communications, Rebecca Begans, Anthropology, Charles Wilson, Urban Planning, Natalie Moles, Urban Planning. Award: $5,000
Science of Filmmaking
This project will explore the organic nature of photochemical film and the various aesthetic qualities achieved through different processes of filmmaking. Team: Cody Huff, Film, Alexander Kreher, Film, Aaron Wilson, Chemistry and Biology, Christopher Lewis, Painting and Printmaking, Samantha Correa-, Art Education and Photography. Award: $5,000
Students from Art Education, Graphic Design, Fashion Design, Advertising and Marketing work together with middle schools in the Richmond community to teach what it means to have a visual arts related career. Team: Shannon Brady, Art Education, Jane Taylor, Creative Advertising, Ally Palmer, Creative Advertising, Leah Schmidt, Graphic Design. Award: $3,800