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Student Collections Study Award


The NHM Collections Study Awards were instituted to provide funding for undergraduate and graduate students to visit and study the collections of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles CountyLa Brea Tar Pits & Museum, and William S. Hart Ranch and Museum (together, the Natural History Museums of L.A. County). Collections visits must be arranged through the appropriate department's collections manager.


There are two award deadlines each year: April 1 and October 1 . Prospective applicants should contact the relevant curator and collections manager of the collections they wish to visit before assembling proposal materials.

Application Submission

Please use this application form to prepare your submission.

Applications should be submitted as a single combined PDF document via email to Nate Smith (nsmith@nhm.org).


The NHM Student Collections Study Award is open to all undergraduate and graduate students who are currently enrolled in an accredited degree-granting program. International undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to apply, but should contact museum curators if assistance is required to obtain a letter of invitation that could be used in a visa application.

Researchers that are within daily commuting distance of NHMLAC are not eligible for this award.

Researchers that have had proposals not funded are encouraged to resubmit, but an individual cannot receive more than one award within a three-year timeframe.


Applicants are required to contact the relevant curator and collections manager of the collections they wish to visit prior to submission of their applications to confirm availability of collections and logistics regarding the use of museum facilities.

Applications should include information on: the objectives and significance of the proposed research; the relevance of NHM collections to the project; any collaboration with NHM curators (if applicable); and the methods used in the research. Both the quality of the proposed research as well as the project's feasibility will be evaluated. In addition, preference will be given to proposals that: 1) demonstrate a critical role of NHM collections in the proposed research; and 2) enhance the NHM collections (e.g., identifications, curation, transcription, annotation of records, generation of new data, etc.).

Any proposed research that involves digitization, molding & casting, and/or destructive sampling of NHM specimens, must meet the appropriate department's collections use criteria, and also be approved ahead of time by the appropriate curator and collections manager.

Awards are made in either partial or full support of travel, lodging, and incidental costs while visiting the NHM collections. Individual award amounts can vary, but typically range from $500–$1,000, with a maximum of $1,500. Reimbursement for housing is limited to a maximum of $250 per day.

Awards are made in the form of a check issued by NHM to the awardee. Awardees are required to complete and submit a W-9 form (or W-8BEN for international awardees) prior to the distribution of funds. Award funds can only be used for the awardee's qualified travel, lodging, and meals/incidental expenses. For awards greater than $600, the NHM is required to report these amounts to the IRS, and recipients are responsible for paying income taxes.

As part of the visit, awardees will be expected to give a brief "brown-bag" style presentation/discussion for the relevant collections department related to their research. NHM R&C also maintains a Thursday R&C seminar series, and awardees are encouraged to present their research at this forum if their visit coincides with an open date. In addition, awardees are required to submit: 1) a one-paragraph biography; 2) one or more “headshots” or pictures of them working in collections; and 3) a short 1-page report describing their collections visit and research activities at the Museum (reports can be submitted to Nathan Smith nsmith@nhm.org). Awardees are also encouraged to coordinate posts to social media about their collections visit and experience. This information will be kept on file, and used in Museum-related outreach, e.g., the NHM R&C Newsletter. Any publications, conference abstracts, or similar products that utilize NHM collections as part of this award should acknowledge both the “NHMLAC Student Collections Study Award” funding and the relevant departmental collections and staff. Copies of publications/abstracts should be submitted to Nathan Smith (nsmith@nhm.org) and the appropriate curator and collections manager.

Award Review and Notifications

Proposals will be reviewed by a committee composed of NHMLAC curators and collections managers. Notification of award status can be expected approximately 1 month after each submission deadline.

Access the application.