The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)
The Research Plan
Once I had a topic in mind, I then reached the challenge of describing my project, working out the major kinks and explaining it to someone who could have no background in the subject whatsoever. I also had to work to defend why my project was worth studying. The GRFP is big on exploring the broader impacts and intellectual merit of a subject, and I had to calibrate everything around those two themes. See my Research Plan below
The Personal Statement
I was very nervous applying for the GRFP. There are always stronger candidates to compare yourself to, and I struggled somewhat with keeping a positive mindset. I had to work to convince myself that it was still worth applying, despite being up against stronger candidates, even if I don't get it. It's a terrible habit to fall into, and I will not let it limit my opportunities. Dr. Wirgau, the director of the OURS office reminded me that there's only about a 10% fund rate for grant proposals, so everyone has been "rejected", and that's okay. A grant proposal is a way to better your skills, your project, or a sign to pick a new project. I do believe in timing and reason. I believe that what is meant to happen will, one way or another, but nothing will stop me from trying!