Student Engagement Network announces spring grant cycle, opens Nov. 20

Sean Yoder
November 19, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Students can being applying Nov. 20 for Remote Innovations Grants that will cover projects during the Spring 2021 semester.

The deadline to apply is Dec. 13 and the application can be found here. The award decision notification will be on Jan. 8, 2021.

Undergraduate students from all Penn State campuses are invited to apply for a grant, which is designed to support expenses related to completing an experience in the spirit of remote or in-person living and learning.

Students who receive funding will receive $1,000 or $2,000 to complete their experience over the spring semester and are required to participate in the Student Engagement Network (SEN) Online Canvas course (no tuition cost, non-credit bearing), centered on the student engagement journey. Each student will also be assigned a Penn State Engagement Coach to help them complete their virtual/remote experience.

“Engaged learning experiences are still available in the remote realm,” says Michael Zeman, SEN director. “We encourage students to take the initiative to consider ideas, activities and experiences that will enhance their personal growth and professional readiness.”

All experiences must be completed on or before May 31, 2021. A total of $90,000 in grants will be awarded in spring 2021 cycle.

Projects must comply with federal, state, local and University policies related to COVID-19.

Logan DeSanto, of Dickson City, Pennsylvania, has an ongoing project this fall funded by an SEN grant. As a junior nursing student at Penn State Scranton, DeSanto is shadowing and doing undergraduate research under her clinical and academic mentor Michael M. Evans, the assistant dean for Undergraduate Nursing Education at the Commonwealth Campuses and an associate teaching professor of nursing in the College of Nursing.

Logan DeSanto posing in nursing scrubs with College of Nursing sign

Logan DeSanto

IMAGE: Provided

“I am interested in seeing the field of nursing in a variety of settings, as well as learning as much as I can to become the best nurse,” DeSanto said. “By shadowing Dr. Evans with hospice and home-health, I am able to learn about care that is provided in the home health community. I appreciate the extra opportunities this experience has provided me to gain time and experience to practice various skills.”

DeSanto said the project has been impacted by COVID-19 but with social distancing and protective equipment she was able to do the shadowing in person and research aspects remotely.

Senior Mia Vega is performing research this fall at the CSL Behring Fermentation Facility, of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences at the University Park campus, for her SEN-funded project. The Pasadena, California, native said the focus of her project is to “develop high cell density cultivation techniques via fermentation to maximize the production of lanmodulin, a recently discovered Lanthanide-binding protein that undergoes a conformational change when exposed to the rare-earth elements such as lanthanides (Ln). These elements are widely used as a catalyst to produce different technology, magnets and petroleum.“

Mia Vega posing in lab uniform and protective gear inside laboratory

Mia Vega

IMAGE: Penn State

Vega gave credit to her team at the CSL Behring Fermentation Facility for helping her to navigate the pandemic and allow her to conduct her mostly independent work tailored around her class schedule. With majors in biochemistry and molecular biology from the Eberly College of Science, Vega said she hopes to pursue a career in the industrial biotechnology industry after graduating.

“From my advanced courses, I was very fascinated in learning about various metabolic processes of microorganisms,” she said. “Given the opportunity to work as a laboratory assistant at the CSL Behring Fermentation Facility, I was able to apply the knowledge I have obtained.” 

To see other previously funded projects, visit

The Student Engagement Network is a joint initiative between Undergraduate Education, Student Affairs and Outreach and Online Education. The mission of the Student Engagement Network is to advance the power of participation by connecting students with experiences that empower them to make a positive impact as citizens and leaders of the world.

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Last Updated November 24, 2020