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The NOVA program is suspended for the 2020/2021 academic year due to COVID-19 impacts.

NOVA is an undergraduate team (group) award program. The program was created to support and encourage teams of two or more Hopkins undergraduate students to work together to solve a research problem, work on a design project, or bring creative projects (films, plays, or similar) to fruition.

Program Details:

Award type: group award
Award amount: $5000 maximum per team with a maximum of $20,000 awarded annually
Opens for applications: June 1
Deadline to apply: September 15 (11:59 pm)
Award announced: on or about November 1
Length of award: 1 year from award date

Questions? Please review the FAQs below and contact HOUR at with other questions.

Who is eligible to apply?

Teams of two or more registered Hopkins undergraduates (freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors that are NOT graduating prior to May of the academic year of the award) in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the Peabody Institute, and the Whiting School of Engineering and in good academic standing (not on academic probation or suspension) are eligible. Interdisciplinary groups are encouraged.

Recognized student groups (as identified here: are NOT eligible for this award

What kind of projects are accepted?

Research, scholarly, or artistic activities that lead to the production of new knowledge; to increased problem solving capabilities, including design and analysis; to original, critical or historical theory and interpretation; or to the production of art or artistic performance. Projects may range from inception through development of new processes, tools, interfaces, static or interactive works of art.

  • Entrepreneurial projects designed to start a businessmarket a product or service, or similar are not eligible. Visit FastForwardU for information about funding opportunities and support for these projects
  • Projects being completed for a class for academic credit are not eligible.

What is an ‘independent” research, scholarly, or creative project?

Independent projects (in any field) are a unique project conceived of by the team with a university mentor providing guidance and support. HOUR is happy to help teams connect with a mentor if they have been unable to identify one. Email HOUR for help.

Does our project have to be related to our major or minor?

Your undergraduate years are the time to explore your interests. We are happy to fund passion projects in addition to projects related to your specific majors or minors.

Who can serve as our mentor?

Your mentor can be a faculty member, research associate, staff member, postdoc, or a graduate student from any division of the university as well as the Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI), the Lieber Institute, and the Carnegie Institute. If your mentor is affiliated with the university through another institution (like NIH), please contact HOUR to get permission. If you have a graduate student or postdoc mentor, we do request that a secondary letter be submitted from the professor/ PI acknowledging that they are aware of the project and support it.

What is required to apply?

  1. Basic information for the online application from each team member [name, JHU email, cell number, anticipated year of graduation, campus and permanent addresses, major(s), GPA and optional demographic information]
  2. A project proposal not to exceed 4 pages total including figures and bibliography (see proposal guidelines).
  3. An itemized budget proposal (see budget guidelines). Note: there are many resources available across Hopkins, you may not need to purchase some equipment, tools, software, etc. Just ask!
  4. Mentor name and Hopkins email address (up to 2 mentors allowed). Affiliates of Hopkins (Lieber Institute, Kennedy Krieger, Carnegie Institute, and some NIH) can also serve as mentor, but must get approval of the HOUR office if they do not have a Hopkins email address as our system utilizes SSO protocols for security.

Can we apply for and or receive HOUR opportunities more than once?

Yes, you are encouraged to continue to apply to our programs throughout your undergraduate career at Hopkins. Projects evolve, interests change and HOUR wants to encourage your exploration. In the case of “tied” review scores in an individual program cycle, preference will be given to students that have not previously received funding through HOUR programs.

Is there a formal product due at the end of the project?

Yes, all NOVA teams are expected to present their project at DREAMS or one of HOUR’s student seminars held throughout the academic year. This presentation must occur in either the same academic year the award is received or the following year. Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis after the recipient contacts the HOUR office about a conflict.

Who can serve as a mentor?

  • Hopkins faculty, staff, post-docs, and grad students may serve as a mentor for this program.
  • Affiliates of Hopkins (Lieber Institute, Kennedy Krieger, Carnegie Institute, and some NIH) can also serve as mentor, but must get approval of the HOUR office if they do not have a Hopkins email address as our system utilizes SSO protocols for security.
  • If the primary mentor is a grad student or post-doc, a secondary letter from the primary faculty/PI should also be provided to show they are aware of the proposed project and to comment on the undergraduate’s ability to succeed.

What is required of a NOVA mentor?

A NOVA mentor is expected to provide support and guidance for the team, meeting with them at a mutually agreeable schedule. These checkpoints are intended to make sure problems or successes are addressed and next steps planned out. The mentor should also guide the team in the creation of their presentation, whether it take poster format or some other medium. The goal is for the students to have a positive and successful experience.

We allow grad students and postdocs to be identified as the mentor because in many research groups and labs, they are the person working most closely with the undergraduate researcher. They then know the student best and have the most influence on habits, knowledge, and skill acquisition.

What should the letter of support include?

Your mentor letter should include the strengths and skills the team has that will enable them to successfully complete the proposed project. You should touch on the balance of work and independence of team members. You should also include your intent as a mentor touching on what support you will be providing. There is no page limit for this document, but it must be in PDF format.

How is funding distributed?

In line with the provided budget, HOUR will work with the teams and their mentors to find the right distribution for the project:

  1. The entire award can be transferred among the team participants for discretionary use as identified in the budget.
  2. The entire award can be transferred to the department of the mentor for use on the project.
  3. The award can be split between the team members and the department of the mentor.

What can the funding be used for?

NOVA funding may be used toward project expenses as defined in the budget. By transferring funding to the mentor department, the team can capitalize on university purchasing power.

NOVA funding may also be used for personal use to cover living expenses, purchase a new computer, software, conferences, travel as defined in the budget.

Any NOVA funding unused at the end of the year should be returned to the HOUR office.

How do we select reviewers?

HOUR staff reviews each submission looking at: the proposal title, the proposal summary (first paragraph/s), mentor, mentor department, students declared majors to gain basic understanding of the project. We then research university faculty and post-docs to find subject matter experts or field specific reviewers to serve as reviewers. This is a very time consuming process but allows us to make strong reviewer/ submission matches.

What is required of reviewers?

HOUR staff works diligently to not overtax our reviewers, limiting to a maximum of 8 submissions per reviewer. Reviewers utilize the portal (SMApply) that applicants use. We request constructive feedback from our reviewers so we can help develop stronger researchers and proposal writers. Reviewers are asked to provide comments on 1. How well the proposal is written and 2. How viable the project is, to help improve skills on both.

Review Criteria:

  • Creativity, originality and/ or innovation of proposal – 50%
  • Clearly articulated and well-written proposal – 20%
  • Well thought-out and justified budget – 15%
  • Feasibility of completion by team – 15%
  • Contact

    Vice Provost for Research

    265 Garland Hall
    3400 North Charles Street
    Baltimore, MD 21218

    (410) 516-8094

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