Robert C. West and R.J. Russell Field Research Awards

In April 1981, the faculty in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Louisiana State University established the Robert C. West Graduate Student Field Research Fund to support thesis and dissertation field research and to honor Boyd Professor Robert C. West. Awards also were established from the R.J. Russell Fund to honor Professor Russell. Over 200 awards, averaging $200-$600, have been granted to help defray travel and subsistence expenses only. Awards are competitive and based on availability of funds and quality of applications.

Masters’ students often use Robert C. West or R. J. Russell funds for their thesis research. PhD students generally use the funds for exploratory or pilot research to help them develop a dissertation topic and leverage outside funding. MA students should consider additional funding opportunities such as Sigma Xi (LSU chapter and National). PhD students should consider NSF, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Fulbright, among others.


All grant applications and paper competition awards allocated by the Research & Scholarship committee for the academic year 2021-22 are now due Dec 1.


Applicants must be currently registered Master’s or Ph.D. students in good standing in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at LSU and have their application approved by their advisor before submitting the application. Students may only receive one West/Russell award per graduate degree.

Application requirements

The student’s advisor must review and approve the proposal before it is submitted and the student signs that this has been done. Funds are awarded for research specified in the proposal and may not be redirected for other research, without the signed approval of the Research and Scholarship Committee.  On application, notice of approval, exemption or application to IRB if proposed research involves human subjects – Approval or exemption notice from IRB must be met before research.  Funds may not be used to pay outstanding fees/charges to LSU (e.g., library fines, parking tickets).

Selection process

The Research and Scholarship committee, including Faculty members in Anthropology and Geography appointed by the Department Chair will review applications and make awards, generally within 2 weeks of the application deadlines. The committee will decide if awards are to be made from the Robert C. West or the R.J. Russell funds and will notify the Dept. Graduate Secretary to allocate the funds to awardees.

Criteria for selection

Student proposals are judged on the basis of the following criteria, listed in order of importance:

  1. The scientific merit or quality of the proposed project;
  2. Organization and thoughtfulness of the proposed project;
  3. Appropriateness and feasibility of the field work and plan of study;
  4. The student’s background and qualifications.

Reporting Requirements

Award recipients are required to submit a brief report (500 words) summarizing their field research and describing how the funds were spent, along with photocopies of receipts.  Deadlines for submission of the reports are March 1 and November 1 for projects funded in the fall and spring semesters, respectively. Recipients may also be asked to make a brief presentation (10-15 minutes) in the Department Friday Forum series.

Acknowledgement Requirements for Awards

Acknowledgement must be made in scholarly publications and presentations as well as graduate theses and dissertations from research supported by these awards. Required wording follows:  “This research was funded in part by a Robert C. West  (or R.J. Russell) Graduate Student Field Research Award from the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Louisiana State University.”

Application Instructions

The proposal must include:

  • Cover sheet
  • Project description (including significance, methodology, and description of research; max 500 words)
  • References cited (max one page)
  • Budget sheet and budget justification
  • C.V. (including name, contact information, education, publications and presentations at professional conferences, relevant skills, languages, experience, and professional service; max two pages)
  • Approval of your advisor (indicated on the cover sheet)
  • Submission of appendices, figures or other additional information will result in the proposal being declined

Apply Now or Submit Report