Steen Fellowship


The goal of the Lynn and Mary Steen Fellowship is to support student-initiated projects that demonstrate independent scholarship, investigation, and creativity.


Steen Fellowships for student-initiated projects expand opportunities for undergraduate research and investigation by enabling qualified students to undertake independent scholarship, investigation or creative activities in any field related to their college studies. Fellowships are intended to encourage applicants to explore intellectual and creative interests beyond the classroom. Projects should be designed and carried out by the applicant and should culminate in some sort of public report, presentation, performance or display.

A selection committee of faculty will approve funding for feasible, interesting and well-designed projects that fit the applicant’s background and goals. For example, Fellowships might support research in libraries, laboratories, museums or archives; projects could involve fieldwork, travel or creating works of art. Proposals should be developed with the guidance of faculty but do not require faculty supervision. Fellowship awards are based on the quality and originality of the proposal and the qualifications of the applicant to successfully complete the project.

Normally, projects will be carried out in the summer and will not be eligible for academic credit. Fellowships are not to be used for support of internships or for formal study at other academic institutions. Eligibility is limited to rising juniors and seniors; awards are based on the proposal’s merit and budget and will not depend on an applicant’s financial aid status.

The program will begin with 3-5 Fellowships each year of up to $5,000 each for an 8-10 week summer project.

2017 Steen Fellows

  • Jack Goldstein, Biology, 2018, Kinetics of the Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Anne Gaspers and Olive Dwan, Political Science/Norwegian, Sociology-Anthropology/Studio Art, 2018, Bridging Divided Communities: The Potential for Social Integration in Creating Peaceful Societies
  • Maximilian McKune, Theater/Psychology, 2018, Personal Growth and Community Uplift Through Performance on Chicago’s West Side

2016 Steen Fellows

  • Hannah Kruse, Sociology/Anthropology, 2018, No Strings Attached: An Anthropologic Study of the Relationship Between Puppet and Puppeteer
  • Emma Muter, Nursing, 2018 The Nurse’s Role in Geriatric Communities
  • Jack Langdon, BM: Composition/Theory, 2017, Creating an Electronic Opera: composing “The End of Saro” for The St. Olaf Lyric Theater
  • Peder Tune, Political Science, 2017, Living the Dream?: Exploring Normative Understandings of American Success in the All American City

Other Example Projects

  • Study children’s illustrated books at Library of Congress’ Children’s Literature Center
  • Travel to the San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico to learn about the craft of black on black pots revived by Maria Martinez
  • Create a documentary film about efforts in a student’s hometown to change building codes to encourage reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Compile data concerning the spread of Ebola in West Africa and compare these data to computer models for the spread and containment of epidemics
  • Write a 15 minute composition for a woodwind quintet to enter in the Young Composers Competition of the annual Tribeca New Music Festival
  • Study Japanese kimonos as mirrors of class in history and prepare a web resource for English-speaking students who are studying Japanese language and culture
  • Write a series of essays on the scientific, political, economic and cultural issues surrounding attitudes in America and Europe regarding genetically modified food


All application materials will be submitted electronically by clicking here.  Applications must be received by February 28, 2018.  Only complete applications will be considered.

The electronic application has the following parts:

  1.  Project description
  • Background information and significance of project to society
  • Description of novelty, uniqueness and/or contribution to scholarship in the discipline
  • General methodology for creating/completing project
  • Specific aims and timeline/steps for achieving the aims
  • Significance of the project to the applicant’s academic enhancement and career discernment

2.  Project budget.  This completed worksheet will be uploaded as part of the application

3. Self-written statement of professional conduct, ethics and safety as appropriate for the scope and nature of the project. Resources for professionalism can be found here.

4. Plans for dissemination of the work completed during the project

5. Letter of recommendation regarding your suitability for completing an independent, unsupervised project from an on-campus (St. Olaf) mentor, preferably a member of the faculty.  Reference should submit letter directly to on or before the deadline.

6. Letter from host institution or project site (if applicable)

7. Unofficial transcripts

8.  For projects involving human subjects an IRB Review Request and Ethics Plan may have to be completed

9.  For projects involving digital scholarship this form needs to be completed in consultation with IT and or DISCO staff members.

Successful candidates will be asked to complete a waiver and a work authorization before initiating work on their project.

The founders of the Fellowship are Mary and Lynn Steen.

Mary Steen
Assistant Professor of English, 1965-
B.A., Luther College; M.A.T., Harvard University

Lynn Steen
Professor of Mathematics, 1965-2015
B.A., Luther College; PhD., MIT

Story of the Steen Fellowship