Pursuit Grants

Abilene Christian University is a university where scholarly activity and innovation are valued and encouraged. Many undergraduate and graduate students add to the body of knowledge for their discipline through faculty-mentored research. These grants are awarded in order to increase the number of students working with faculty in undergraduate research projects.

The purpose of the competitive Pursuit grants program is to enrich student learning, support faculty development, and enhance the quality and reputation of academic programs by providing funding to support student and faculty research, external research grants, and promote research presentation and publication. Funding may be used to conduct research* or creative endeavors. Proposals must document faculty partnerships with student(s) in all phases.

*Note: All Institutional Review Board (IRB) protocols must be met before conducting research. For more information, see the IRB website.


  1. Increase faculty mentoring of students in research and creative activities
  2. Promote research publication and presentation
  3. Increase student opportunities for research and creative expression


  1. Faculty Funding — Funding will be provided for either release time or a faculty stipend of up to $5,000. The money for release time will be transferred directly to the department/college to hire relief instructors as needed.
  2. Research Expense Funding — Faculty can be reimbursed up to $1,000 for research expenses, equipment, and supplies. Receipts are required to document these expenditures.
  3. Student Funding — At least one undergraduate research assistant must be integrally involved in the research or creative activity. This funding is in addition to the faculty funding. Faculty members may apply for students to receive up to $2,000 for one academic year ($1,000/semester) or $2,000 for the summer. A maximum of four undergraduate student researchers will be funded for one project.

Faculty receiving a Pursuit grant must meet one of the following goals:

  1. Submit a proposal to present at a professional conference with their undergraduate assistants.
  2. Submit a paper or creative product jointly produced with undergraduate researchers for dissemination in a peer-reviewed forum.

In addition, ALL recipients must have students present at the Undergraduate Research Festival or another juried campus forum.

For more information contact Dr. Phyllis Bolin at phyllis.bolin@acu.edu or 325-674-2505.

**Funding for the Pursuit Research Grants is in the 5th and final year of the QEP program. There will be no funding awarded in the 2015-2016 academic year. 


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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