UH grad students turn to online community to fund research

UH grad students turn to online community to fund research

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Liz Letchford's online video marketed her idea to the masses that ACL injuries might be avoided if they can be predicted.

The University of Hawaii graduate student needed to collect data for her dissertation. And she needed a way to pay for it.

But instead of writing a grant to fund the research, she turned to crowdfunding.

"There's this sense of prestige that comes from getting a grant," she said. "But grant money is becoming more and more scarce these days."

A number of UH graduate students are also crowdfunding for their research projects.

Ellie Armstrong needs $2,500 for a spider study, while James Anderson and two other graduate students raised $9,000 to study hammerhead sharks.

"Definitely, there's been a big uptick by the student ranks to use it as a way to get their research funded, to do a little bit extra they couldn't do otherwise," Anderson said.

Even if a grant is approved, it can take a year or longer to get the money. Contributions covered Letchford's costs in just 30 days.

"I needed $8,500 and I raised just a little bit over $8,500," she said.

UH alumnus Marian Chau knows the power of crowdfunding.

Chau, who now manages the seed lab at Lyon Arboretum, raised $50,000 to collect and store ohia seeds.

"Since it's a trend that's happening for all sorts of fundraising, it makes sense that it might be a good way for them to raise money for their research," she said.

Letchford used Experiment.com for her crowdfunding. On the site, money is only collected from donors if the goal is met.

"It's a really cool new way that technology has allowed more people to be involved in research rather than just the researchers," Letchford said.

To see UH projects looking for crowdfunding support, click here.

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