Seniors are applying in record numbers this year for several fellowship and research opportunities. While only some of the deadlines for certain fellowships have passed, the Office of Student Fellowships and Research has already seen a substantial increase in applications compared to last year.

For the Fulbright Grants, there was a 40 percent increase in the number of applications, from 20 applications last year to 28 this year.

The Watson Fellowship saw a 73 percent increase in applications, from 11 applications last year to 19 this year.

The internally funded Grua-O'Connell Research Award saw a 650 percent increase in applications; applications jumped from only two last year to 15 this year.

Fellowships like the Watson and Fullbright are highly competitive, though Director of Student Fellowships and Research Cindy Stocks, said Bowdoin has a strong record of recipients.

Last year, one Bowdoin student recived a Watson fellowship and six students were awarded Fulbright grants, which Stocks said is "pretty good for a small school."

Out of all the Watson applications, the College selects four to pass on to the national level for consideration.

"So doing the math, one out of the four Watson Bowdoin applicants was accepted, so 25 percent accepted. And six out of the 20 Fulbright applicants were accepted, so [there is a] 30 percent Bowdoin Fulbright acceptance rate," wrote Stocks in an e-mal to the Orient.

Stocks believes there could be many reasons why the number of applications for these fellowships has increased since last year.

"I think probably the economy plays a role," said Stocks. "Students are smart enough to put their eggs in many baskets. Instead of counting on just a job or just a fellowship, they are trying for jobs, fellowships and internships as well to diversify their risk."

The Office of Student Fellowships and Research was created in 2007 and has seen a steady increase in fellowship applications each year. More students have become aware of the opportunities being offered as they become familiar with the Office, said Stocks.

According to Stocks, the Office has been active in reaching out to students and informing them by using tactics ranging from Student Digest posts to using the faculty as a go-between.

In addition to the Office of Student Fellowships and Research's self-promotion, Stocks said she believed that the rise in student interest was also due to "a combination of awards coming into existence and increased expectation on the students to carry out research while they are here."

The desire for research is what influenced Sarah Lupino '10 to recently apply for a Fulbright fellowship in the hopes of going to Italy to work in a chemistry lab.

"For me, it made sense for me to do it now, so I can figure out what particular area of chemistry interests me and get lab experience before applying to graduate school," said Lupino.

The Fulbright Grants for Study and Research, which Lupino is applying for, provide funding for students to carry out individually designed research projects in a particular country for a year.

Sarah Ebel '10, who applied for the Watson fellowship, was also motivated by the desire for research.

"The economy is really bad. There are no jobs. But that's not why I applied," said Ebel. "I applied because it's an opportunity to go do something you could never really do on your own without financial support. I felt I had nothing to lose."