OVERVIEW: The Welch Foundation is all about two things — chemistry and Texas. Founded from the estate of oil and mineral man Robert A. Welch following his death in 1952, this big state funder supports basic chemical research at institutions of higher learning in Texas. The foundation funds individual research grants, departmental grants, endowed chairs, two research awards, scholarships, and an annual conference. Welch also prioritizes giving support and inspiration to young people to become involved in the sciences.
IP TAKE: Researching chemistry at a postsecondary school in Texas? If the answer is “yes,” then research grants, awards, and endowed chairs are open for application and nomination. If not, best to move on to greener pastures.
PROFILE: This Houston-based funder carries on the legacy of Robert Welch, an oil and mineral tycoon who in later life came to be a big believer that chemistry would make the world a better place.
Welch's geographic preference isn't lip service: it has never made a grant outside of Texas. For those within the Lone Star State, though, the here are a few avenues to Welch research funding: research grants, departmental grants, endowed chairs, and two awards. There are also student scholarships and an annual chemistry conference.
Research grants are for a minimum of $65,000 a year and support fundamental chemistry research, but they can be used for fellowships, scholarships, equipment, upkeep, travel, and more. Proposals are due annually by the end of January.
Departmental grants are invite-only, but they tend to support chemistry departments and faculty at small and midsize schools. Their primary purpose is to stimulate interest in science careers among students by providing them “scholarships, lab equipment and chemicals as well as travel to industry meetings and conferences.”
Separately, Welch also offers undergraduate scholarships of up to $14,000 per year for up to four years to chemistry, bioengineering, and chemical engineering students in collaboration with the Texas Interscholastic League Foundation (TILF). Welch also offers a five-week summer program for high school juniors and seniors, who “participate in real-life research projects under the supervision of experienced research chemists.”
Endowed chairs make up some of the largest grants from the Welch Foundation, supporting entire faculty positions at chemistry Ph.D. programs. Institutions are usually expected to provide one-to-one matching funds. Applications are accepted for this program year-round.
Finally, there are two awards: the $500,000 Welch Award in Chemistry and the $100,000 Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research. Both are made to prominent researchers, and nominations can be invited by the foundation or come from others in the field.
While Welch is unwaveringly devoted to its home state, it's quite inviting for institutions within those borders. More information about recent awards and grants is available in the foundation’s annual report.
- Wilhelmina E. Robertson, Director
- Norbert Dittrich, President