Cullen Grants

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The Cullen grant fund was established to provide a source of internal support for any qualified faculty member at Abilene Christian University. The intent of the program is to provide time for faculty scholarship during a summer term. The financial resources within a given fiscal year determine the number of grants awarded. Cullen funds are generated by an endowment from the Cullen Foundation and support research projects in all academic areas, with the exception of Mathematics and the Physical Sciences. (Excluded from eligibility are Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering and Physics, and Mathematics.)

Full-time faculty members at the rank of instructor or above are eligible to apply. Funds are awarded to proposals that demonstrate potential for serious research and creative activity. The Research Council especially encourages those faculty members who are interested in doing research for the first time to apply. The Research Council considers the proposals submitted by the faculty and approves those judged best according to the following criteria:

  • Worth and value to the discipline, researcher, or the university.
  • Clear goals, objectives, and outcomes.
  • Use of sound, clearly explained methodology and procedures.
  • Clear writing that is precise, detailed, and understandable to a lay audience.
  • Expected outcome of project (e.g., a book, article, paper, presentation, video).
  • Likelihood of successful completion in a reasonable time.

Cullen Grants are intended to support scholarly activities including:

  • quantitative research studies,
  • qualitative research studies,
  • technological innovations, and
  • developmental and innovative research activity related to musical compositions or artistic production.

Awards are usually given according to the following categories requested in the budget:

  • Summer Salary Request. This amount is paid commensurate with university summer pay schedules as the equivalent of two summer classes, and based upon faculty rank. In some cases, the amount of funding may be reduced due to lack of funding or because a project may be judged as less ambitious than others receiving funding.
  • Expense related to the research. This amount is limited to essential and necessary materials or support directly connected with the research project. Ineligible expenses include clerical work, office supplies, telephone, computer equipment, and travel, as these support services usually can be obtained from Departmental or College resources.
  • Partnership with externally funded research support. In certain cases, application can be made to provide matching funds for an externally funded project. The amount of funding is limited to the equivalent of teaching two summer terms. Also, no salary funds can be used from the Research Council while a faculty member is also being paid from an outside agency, thus preventing a “double-dip” situation.

Projects should be completed during a single fiscal year and must produce a tangible, scholarly product. Examples of acceptable outcomes include completion of a book, an article submitted for publication in a peer reviewed journal, presentation at a professional conference, etc.

An interim report detailing the progress made toward goals is due by the second Monday of September, and a final report further detailing the progress made and the scholarly product completed is due by the last Monday of January following the project period. 

Every participant who receives a grant must agree to the ACU Intellectual Property Agreement. The applicant agrees to certain rights and claims against copyrights and patents resulting from university support. Funds cannot be released to any grantee without this acknowledgement of the agreement. The Intellectual Property Agreement may be found on the ORSP website.

Every grantee is assigned a budget for expenses if any are awarded. Salaries are paid through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. All budgets must be cleared and accounted for by the April 1 after the summer for which the grant was awarded. Grantees without proper accounting forms are liable for the expenses incurred.

If the project involves research with human subjects, IRB approval must be obtained prior to conduct of the research.


New in Reasearch

Dr. Ryan Jessup, Assistant Professor of Marketing

Dr. Jessup is interested in decisions.  What causes people to choose poorly?  How do learning and contextual factors influence choice?  In seeking to answer these questions, his research uses psychological models of motivation to distill the computational properties of decision making.  Computational modeling enhances research by requiring precision in theory formulation and constraining predictions.

One of Dr. Jessup’s primary streams of research concerns the behavioral differences between decisions when options are completely described vs. decisions when options must be learned about via experience.  Prior research found that individuals choose quite differently between the two paradigms but the reasons underlying the difference are poorly understood.  One of Dr. Jessup’s studies demonstrated that the reception of feedback overwhelms descriptive information, driving the behavioral differences between paradigms.  This work has led him and his colleagues (including Dr. John Homer and undergraduate researcher Allison Phillips) to build a new model that merges sophisticated decision making mechanisms with reinforcement learning in order to successfully predict behavior in both paradigms better than existing models. Dr. Jessup has previously received Cullen awards for this work and is currently seeking external funding to continue this fascinating line of research.

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