Image of people walking through a public square in Spain a seen through a window

The Harold Varmus 1961 Fund supports Amherst College students pursuing independent scholarly work, approved by an Amherst college faculty sponsor, in any field outside of the United States for a period of no less than 12 weeks and no more than 6 months.  Preference is given to rising seniors whose scholarly work will be used to support a thesis.

The Summer 2022 application is now closed!

Eligibility and expectations

  • Varmus Fellows must be enrolled at the college in the semesters before and after the research experience. 
  • Research must be original and related to a senior thesis or capstone project. 
  • Students must participate in research for a minimum of 12 weeks in the summer.
  • Varmus Fellows  must remain abroad at their place(s) of study for the duration of the fellowship. International students may not return to their home countries.
  • Varmus Fellows will commit to participating in a cohort with other funded students. This will include involvement in cohort building during the spring semester as well as engaging with other cohort members over the course of the summer.
  • Varmus Fellows will commit to checking in with a Center for Community Engagement  (CCE) staff member bi-weekly and with their supervising faculty member or another member of their research support team at least once per month.
  • Varmus Fellows will complete reflection activities over the course of the summer.
  • Upon completion of the research, fellows  must submit an essay (3-5 pages) describing the nature, outcomes, and consequences of their travels. 


  • A stipend of $8,250 for 12 week projects will be awarded.  Students may request additional funding for their project, but must submit a line item budget in order for their request to be considered.
  • Stipends are expected to cover the cost of transportation and living expenses.  
  • Students may request additional funding related to their research, e.g., museum entrance fees, materials, and extra living expenses. Any request for additional funding must include an explanation of why the activities/expenses are critical to the research as well as a detailed budget.


  • Students will submit a 5-7 page proposal (see outline below).  If related to senior thesis work, the proposal will need to describe how the project and the host location will support your thesis. 
  • Students must meet with Zoë Jacobs Feinstein, Associate Director of the Center for Community Engagement, at least once before submitting an application.  To set up an appointment, please email
  • Endorsement by at least one faculty member, in the form of a letter. Varmus Fellows  must liaise with an Amherst College faculty member to help establish the research project and commit to being part of a team overseeing the student’s progress over the summer, e.g, regular check-ins. Additionally, staff members in the CCE, GEO, and instructional staff in Academic Technology and the Library may also be part of the student’s research support team committee.
Project proposal outline (5-7 pages):

General Information: your name, Amherst College email, phone, project title, and amount of funding requested

Overview/description of project: What do you propose to do? What motivated this idea? What have you accomplished so far? Why this location? If related to senior thesis work, describe how the project and the host location will support your thesis.

Intention/Anticipated Outcome: What are your short-term and long-term goals and objectives, both academic and personal? 

Partners/Collaborators (if applicable): Who is involved in your project? How are you working together with others? What is the nature of your collaboration?

Relevant personal experience/coursework: Do you have any previous experience that will support your work on this project or activity? What has prepared you to undertake this work? What language skills do you have, if applicable, that will support your ability to conduct this research? Do you have examples of cross-cultural experiences that may facilitate your ability to conduct research abroad?

Implementation Strategy: Who will be involved? What will you do and when? What challenges might you face and how would you address them?

Health and Safety: What are the potential health and safety risks in the location(s) you intend to travel? How will you address these risks? Please read the U.S. State Department Travel Advisory and the CDC Country Profiles for the countries to which you plan to travel to help answer this question. 

The Summer 2022 application is now closed!