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Alumni bequest to support SIPS graduate student collaboration and innovation

Joseph D. Novak

-Magdalen Lindeberg

The Schmittau-Novak Small Grants Program, designed to catalyze innovation and promote professional skill development among SIPS graduate students, has been established through a bequest from the estate of Jean Schmittau (PhD ’87).

The primary goal of the Schmittau-Novak grant program is to encourage collaborative and innovative research, and to provide graduate students with experience in proposal preparation and review. It is hoped that these projects will catalyze new collaborative relationships, provide a funding source for higher risk student-led research with the potential for novel discovery, and promote graduate student cohesion and community building within SIPS.

Dr. Jean Schmittau, Bartle Professor of Mathematics Education at SUNY-Binghamton, conducted graduate work at Cornell with a focus on mathematics, cognitive development, and educational psychology. Dr. Schmittau’s bequest is made in recognition of Dr. Joseph D. Novak, Professor Emeritus of Plant Biology. Dr. Novak is best known for his work on concept mapping, a tool used in science education to represent expert knowledge and illustrate relationships between ideas and concepts.

The Schmittau-Novak grants program honors Dr. Novak’s work by encouraging creative application of concepts integral to the five SIPS graduate fields, and by rewarding those who build connections between different areas of study.  Applicants are encouraged to include the following elements when developing proposals:

  • Student investigators from multiple SIPS Sections
  • Research on innovative new topics not funded previously
  • Development of new collaborations
  • Research outcomes that will advance the SIPS mission
  • Research outcomes will benefit the professional development of the investigators

Applications for 2017-2018 awards are due on August 1, 2017.  More information about program priorities, eligibility, and awardee responsibilities can be found on the Schmittau-Novak Small Grants Program web site.


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