Faces of GIAR: Soumya Varma

February 28, 2023


Grant: $1,000 in Spring 2021

Education level at the time of the grant: PhD student

Project Description: 
The principal objective of the research was to understand the structure-property relationship of the enamel known as crenulated wavy enamel (CWE) in the grinding dentition of large herbivore hadrosaurid dinosaurs. The grant was used to buy an instrument attachment, namely a diamond indenter tip, to evaluate wavy enamel's micromechanical response. The indenter tip was attached to the HysitronTI950 nanoindenter, and nanoindentation experiments were carried out to evaluate its mechanical properties at a small scale.

How did the grant process or the project itself influence you as a scientist/researcher?
The writing of the grant proposal enriched my experience in writing. It made me understand the key points required to write a successful proposal. The most helpful aspect was learning how to write my research concisely and for a broader audience. The budgeting process also taught me how to identify what to include and what to leave out. The grant also helped me get another scholarship which funded a future visit to Switzerland.

What is one piece of advice or tip you would give to future grant applicants? 
Focus on creating a very strong background section, target a broad audience, and include a comprehensive budgeting section.

Students may apply for Sigma Xi research grants by March 15 and October 1 annually at www.sigmaxi.org/giar.

More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. www.sigmaxi.org. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety