Helen Stafford Research Fellowships

The Stafford Student Research Fund was endowed by Dr. Helen Stafford, Professor Emeritus of Biology, Reed College in 2012. Helen embraced botany as an undergraduate at Wellesley College and in her early graduate work published the effects of light on growth and differentiation in timothy grass seedlings. She began her career long focus on plant enzymes at the University of Pennsylvania where she obtained her PhD. After completing post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago, Helen was the only woman faculty member in the natural sciences and was the first Reed professor to win a Guggenheim Fellowship. Dr. Stafford taught Introductory Biology and a laboratory-intensive plant physiology course from 1954-1987. During that period she was continuously funded by the NSF to study flavonoid biosynthesis in Douglas-fir, publishing more than 70 research articles while working primarily with undergraduates. Helen was very active professionally and served as president of the Phytochemical Society of North America. Upon her retirement from Reed College, Helen continued to write scholarly reviews. A few examples demonstrate the range of her scientific interests- "Will some one please tell me what is a plant cell?" published in The Plant Cell; "Flavonoid Biosynthesis" published by CRC Press; and "Evolution of Flavonoids" published in Plant Physiology. Helen's love of Reed was evident through her very generous funding of scholarships and biological research. helen

On the subject of teaching, Helen stated,
"I have learned to appreciate how deeply students need encouragement, as well as, say, expertise. Typically required to work harder than ever before, expected to comprehend unfamiliar and often difficult subjects, obliged to compete with their peers for the first time, and usually subjected to severer criticisms than ever before, students deserve, not merely need, encouragement."

Two research opportunities have been established with this fund, one for current undergraduate students and one for post-baccalaureate students.

Stafford Undergraduate Summer Fellowships

Up to three Fellows may be selected each year; the Fellowship provides a stipend and monies for supplies and/or travel. These fellowships require a Reed Biology Faculty mentor and are usually awarded to a student who will conduct research in that laboratory. Fellowship recipients are selected through a process of competitive proposals open to students at any level, though preference will be given to those completing their sophomore or junior year.

Information about this fellowship can be obtained from any faculty member of the Biology Department.


Applications for the Helen Stafford Award should be submitted to Kristy Gonyer (B115), Biology Administrative Coordinator according to the annual deadline posted on the application form.

Stafford Post Baccalaureate Research Fellowships

Each year, one to three Post Baccalaureate Research Fellows may be awarded based on both current progress on the thesis and the potential to further develop or complete this project given additional research time. On rare occasions this award may be related to progress on independent research related to a course other than thesis. The fellowship provides a stipend and monies for supplies and/or travel. The Fellowship duration is 10 weeks with the possibility to extend for an additional 10 weeks upon competitive application. 

Information about this fellowship can be obtained from your thesis advisor or faculty member of the Biology Department. Generally, the application process occurs three weeks before theses are due in the spring. Interested spring-fall thesis students should consult their thesis advisor.

The Application process for the Post-Baccalaureate Research fellowship is handled separately from the other summer undergraduate research fellowships in the department. Learn how to Apply Here.