Summer Grant 2022 Impressions
This was the inaugural year for our Labfront Summer Research Grants, and - my goodness - was I so impressed with the quality and breadth of the submissions! I had the opportunity to review all the applications, and the stellar quality of the submissions made our job of selecting the 3 winners an extremely difficult one. We were so torn about choosing the select few from the top 10 studies that we even considered ways to expand our total prize distribution, but we are a relatively new startup that runs a tight ship and finding extra funds is tough. Next year, we hope this will change and we plan to allocate a larger amount to reward more applicants and to possibly expand benefits - including a year-long (remote) internship for signal processing and physiological analyses training.
Breakdown of grant submissions
For this year, our nearly 150 submissions came from all parts of North America - as shown in the map below. We also received applications from Pakistan, Australia, Spain, Germany, and Russia.
The range of topics covered from the applications was exceptionally broad. Some examples include autonomic nervous system assessment of cognitive decline, interaction between body-sensing and personal choice, HRV in frailty, stress and racial identity, HRV in neuropathic pain, physical activity in autism, stress in intellectual disability, stress reduction from self-defense, sedentary behavior in office workers, role of stress assessment in law enforcement and elite wildfire firefighters, cardiometabolic states in cancer survivors, autonomic nervous system recovery from concussion, and physiological responses in e-gaming. There were many more fascinating topics - too many to be included in this blog - but these examples give a window into the ever expanding role that wearables are playing in health-sciences research.
By disciplines, psychology and sports science clearly led the charge. Here is the breakdown of the 5 leading disciplines in the top 35 submissions:
Sports Science: 6
The wearable metrics being proposed for analyses were equally distributed across the available options: heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep, physical activity, and stress.
Some additional impressions regarding the applications
Future of women in science
Nearly 80% of the top 35 applicants were women and, other than a single exception, the top ten applications were all from women scientists. Clearly, the future of women representation in science is promising.
The power of recommendation letters
The other notable personal observation was that the recommendation letters from some of the mentors were remarkable. The amount of time spent on writing the letters must have been extensive, and the best ones accomplished a number of things: clear appreciation of the mentee's qualifications, passions, and motivations; commitment of the available resources towards ensuring that the proposed work is completed and published; affirmation that the proposed work fits perfectly within the larger mission of the group's (mentor's) activities; and the conviction that this work represents a pivotal step in the applicant's growth and success. Truly, the quality of the support letter can make or break an application - particularly for a competitive grant such as ours. After reading these letters, however, I feel thoroughly inspired about our future and reassured that our next generation of promising scientists is being nurtured by a throng of competent and caring senior researchers.
For those who applied for this summer grant, I want to thank you for your hard work and effort. We will continue to figure out various ways to help advance your work and to promote your meaningful contribution to a healthier society.