The Sesquicentennial Grant Program was created to support activities and projects that engage with the university’s history, look ahead to its future and explore what makes Vanderbilt distinctive and unique.


Artificial Intelligence in Medical Imaging: Vanderbilt’s Next 150 Years

Vanderbilt has been selected to host the prestigious Medical Imaging Deep Learning conference in 2023 where 300-500 international scholars will present research and debate the technical and ethical implications of their work. With this grant, the Vanderbilt Institute for Surgery and Engineering will theme the conference “Impactful AI: Efficacy, Integration and Equity,” and provide scholarships to cover the registration for 20 graduate students and 10 medical trainees to attend.  

  • Bennett Landman, chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Benoit Dawant, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Electrical Engineering
  • Ipek Oguz, assistant professor of computer science
Cherokee and Chickasaw Students at Vanderbilt,

Funding for this project will support research, exhibit design and public commemoration of Vanderbilt’s 19th-century Cherokee and Chickasaw students.

  • Daniel Sharfstein, Dick and Martha Lansden Chair in Law, professor of history, and co-director of the George Barrett Social Justice Program
History and Legacy of Undergraduate Study Abroad at Vanderbilt

This project will include a physical exhibit and an interactive online digital timeline and stories chronicling the development, expansion and influence of Study Abroad at Vanderbilt.

  • Lorraine Catanzaro, principal senior lecturer, Spanish and Portuguese
  • Arik Ohnstad, director of the Global Education Office
  • Isabelle Crist, assistant director of global safety and security
  • Cynthia Paschal, senior associate dean for undergraduate education, School of Engineering
  • Julie Vernon, associate dean for academic success, assistant professor of the practice of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and executive director of SCI-STEPS
  • Mallory Perdue, executive director of stewardship
Innovation Challenge

A team from the Wond’ry, Vanderbilt’s Innovation Center, will lead an innovation challenge involving teams of faculty, students and staff. 

  • David Owens, professor of the practice of management and innovation, professor of the practice of engineering management, and executive director of the Wond’ry
  • Mandy Lalrindiki, assistant director of innovation and design research, the Wond’ry
  • Yesenia Sevilla, director of strategic engagement and ecosystem development, the Wond’ry
  • Jaclyn Mothupi, associate director of social innovation, the Wond’ry
  • Kyle Caruso, program coordinator of entrepreneurship, the Wond’ry
  • Dan Drogosh, program coordinator of social innovation, the Wond’ry
Inclusive Public Engagement and Shared Authority: A Student-Led Vaughn Home Experience

This grant will support the development of a public outreach component to the student-executed Vaughn Home exhibition, scheduled for installation in Summer 2023. This exhibition will interpret the stories of the women and underrepresented minorities associated with the home, and Vanderbilt more generally, since its construction in 1875. This post-installation, public outreach component will be the focus of a course taught in Fall 2023 by Victoria Hensley, RPW Center Postdoctoral Fellow.

  • Victoria Henlsey, postdoctoral fellow, Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities,
  • Holly Tucker, professor of French
Looking to the Future of Learning and Collaborating in Virtual Worlds

This grant will support the design and implementation of procedures for learning and collaborating in large-scale virtual reality environments using different technologies. 

  • Andrew McAvan, graduate student, psychological sciences
  • Timothy McNamara, professor of psychology
  • Robert Bodenheimer, professor of computer science
  • Soumyajit Chakraborty, graduate student, computer science
Project SHARE: Sharing Strategies for Academic Faculty and Student Recruitment

Project SHARE aims to launch a campus-wide collaboration for the graduate health professional degree programs established at Vanderbilt University. The campus-wide collaborative will provide a platform to share strategies schools/programs use to recruit faculty and students from underrepresented ethnic and racial minorities and underserved populations.

  • LeTizia Smith, assistant professor of nursing
  • Julie Steed, assistant professor of nursing
Rethinking Development: The Global Impact of Vanderbilt’s Graduate Program in Economic Development

This project will support the preparation of an academic report on the history and impact of the Graduate Program in Economic Development. This project will also support a plan to invite an eminent GPED alumnus for a campus visit and talk during Vanderbilt’s sesquicentennial celebrations in 2023.

  • Kamal Saggi, associate provost, faculty affairs
  • Xiaodong Huang, Andrew and Jennifer Hoine Chair in Economics
  • Edward Fisher, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Anthropology
  • Brooke Talley, program coordinator, graduate program in economic development
  • Pratap Khattri, graduate assistant, graduate program in economic development
  • Ning Ma, graduate assistant, graduate program in economic development
Trans-Pacific Links: The Vanderbilt Asian Alumni Project

The Trans-Pacific Links project aims to collect the history and stories of Asian alumni and Vanderbilt’s linkage with Asia. The project will involve undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members in Asian Studies, as well as librarians and support staff.  

  • Guojun Wang, associate professor of Asian studies
  • Gerald Figal, professor of Asian studies and of English
Unexplored Legacy of the Social Gospel in the South: The Vanderbilt Contribution

This project examines the history of the social gospel in the South and will feature insights for current faith communities, connecting Vanderbilt Divinity School to the Nashville-area community. Audiences will be able to access the group’s research through number of platforms including podcasts and academic publications.  

  • Joerg Rieger, distinguished professor of theology, Cal Turner Chancellor’s Chair of Wesleyan Studies, founding director of Wendlend-Cook Program in Religion and Justice
  • Aaron Stauffer, postdoctoral scholar in Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice, director of online learning for the Divinity School
  • Francisco Garcia, graduate student, Department of Religion
  • George Schmidt, graduate student, Department of Religion
  • Gabriella Lisi, communications director, Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice.
Vanderbilt Athletics Timelapse Animation Video

This grant will support the creation of an animated, timelapse watercolor video focusing on Vanderbilt’s unique contributions to college athletics, including a special focus on the university’s leadership in the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion.  

  • Andrew Maraniss, coordinator of training and development, athletics
  • Candice Lee, vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director
  • Tommy McClelland, executive director, athletics
  • Kristene Kelly, deputy athletics director for internal affairs
  • Alan George, associate athletic director
Vanderbilt Fusion Project

The Vanderbilt Fusion Project is a cross-disciplinary engineering project team and research initiative to build a functional miniature nuclear fusion reactor. The goal is to create a unique space for team members to develop the background and skills necessary to become creative engineers, innovators and leaders. After the reactor is completed, there will be a live-stream video from the heart of the reactor, enabling students, faculty and community to be inspired by the energetics that power the stars.  

  • Richard Teising, staff engineer, civil and environmental engineering
  • Ashok Choudjury, adjunct professor of materials science
  • Thomas Pennington, student, school of engineering
  • Logan Glazier, student, school of engineering
  • Kathryn Tam, student, mathematics
  • Anders Westermann, Student, Human and Organizational Development
  • Zachary Klinger, student, human and organizational development
Vanderbilt Lunar Labs Initiative

This grant funding will launch the Vanderbilt Lunar Labs Initiative with the greater goal of developing the lunar gravitational-wave observatory. This will be the first-of-its-kind interdisciplinary initiative in the nation that will bring stakeholders from physics, astronomy, engineering and the space industry. Vanderbilt is the premier institution for multi-messenger astrophysics and is home to the world’s largest university-based research center on radiation effects in space.  

  • Karan Jani, assistant professor of physics and astronomy
Vestigo: Vanderbilt’s Biomedical Research – A History of Innovation

This grant will produce a curated and designed book and website showcasing the biomedical research innovation of Vanderbilt faculty, staff and students over the past 150 years. This includes a focus on how Vanderbilt has impacted human health and where we are poised to create pathbreaking research in the future.  

  • Aaron Conley, director of external affairs and partnerships and communications coordinator
  • Chuck Sanders, professor of biochemistry
  • Kendra Oliver, assistant professor of pharmacology
  • Lorena Infante Lara, communications consultant
  • Stephen Doster, Editor, internal communications
  • Marissa Shapiro, senior communication specialist
Vanderbilt Self-Portrait

Vanderbilt Self-Portrait is a photography project that aims to capture the image and essence of Vanderbilt through the faces of its community members. The project authors will photograph students, faculty and staff, as well as the environments in which they study, work and relax. The expected outcome will be a student art gallery exhibition and photo book.

  • Vesna Pavlovic, professor of art
  • Yvonne Boyer, librarian
  • Allen Zeng, student, college of arts and science
  • Richard Zhang, student, college of arts and science



Remembering and Archiving Vanderbilt’s History through New Play Development and Performance with Vanderbilt University Theatre

This project’s team members will meet with a cross section of the university community to gather stories about their Vanderbilt experiences, which then will be developed with the help of current students into a full-length play to be performed during Vanderbilt University Theatre’s 2024–25 season.

  • Christin Essin, associate professor of theatre
  • Jessica Owens, alumna, playwright, dramaturg, producer and theatre administrator
  • Will Bonfiglio, alumnus, theatre artist and educator
An Outdoor Teaching Lab Honoring 150 Years of Earth-Science Research and Education at Vanderbilt University

This grant will support the creation of a rock installation near Garland Hall that will serve as an outdoor teaching laboratory for students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. The installation also will provide historical context and narratives on various issues, including land use, economics of resource extraction and modern climate change.

  • Steven Goodbred, Stevenson Professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Paul Stob, professor of communication studies and chair of the Program in American Studies
  • Daniel Morgan, principal senior lecturer in Earth and environmental sciences and associate dean of the College of Arts and Science
  • Neil Kelley, assistant professor of Earth and environmental sciences and co-director of undergraduate studies
  • Kevin Hooper, administrative manager in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Constance Priddy, Ph.D. student in the Department of History
Queer Commodores: Uncovering the LGBTQ+ History of Vanderbilt University

This project seeks to educate and empower the Vanderbilt community and the wider Nashville area through a physical exhibition and an online companion exhibit that will shed light on erased and unpublished queer stories from the university’s past.

  • Sarah Calise, metadata librarian at the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries
  • Shawn Reilly, trans buddy coordinator in the Program for LGBTQ Health at Vanderbilt
  • Steph Mahnke, director of the Office of LGBTQI Life
The Vanderbilt Nonprofit Network: Tracking and Celebrating Vanderbilt’s Influence on Communities

This project will create a database of Vanderbilt community members who have founded or led nonprofit organizations. The grant also will support opportunities to tell the individual stories of these nonprofits and their impacts, as well as fund the first Vanderbilt Nonprofit Leaders Recognition Ceremony.

  • Schyler Turrin, associate director of executive projects in Government and Community Relations
  • Midori Lockett, chief community impact officer in Government and Community Relations
  • Sally Parker, chief of staff in Government and Community Relations
  • Jesse Blocher, professor of the practice at Owen Graduate School of Management
  • Eric Rothdeutsch, director of data analytics in Development and Alumni Relations
  • Gena Cobble, chief of staff in Development and Alumni Relations
Black Peabody Museum

This project will capture the experiences, contributions and accomplishments of Black Peabody students, faculty and staff through museum-style installations featuring text, photos, videos and interactive exhibits.

  • Hasina Mohyuddin, assistant dean of equity, diversity and inclusion at Peabody College
  • Eliza Blades, assistant director of the Peabody Office of Student Engagement and Well-being
  • Cameron Stokes, president of the Peabody Coalition of Black Graduates
  • David Golann, librarian for psychological sciences and special education at Peabody Library
  • MaKenzie Mosby, treasurer of the Peabody Coalition of Black Graduates
  • Morgan Spellman, vice president of the Peabody Coalition of Black Graduates
A Legacy of Integrity: The Role of the Undergraduate Honor Council in Vanderbilt’s History

This project will illuminate the honor system’s integral role in building the university’s strong academic profile over the past 150 years, educate Undergraduate Honor Council members on the latest research and best practices in the field of academic integrity and strengthen the council’s outreach initiatives.

  • Mabel Cummins, outgoing president of the Undergraduate Honor Council
  • Victoria He, Undergraduate Honor Council member
  • Thomas Richardson, Undergraduate Honor Council member
  • Aaditi Lele, Undergraduate Honor Council member
  • Marissa McGillis, assistant director for academic integrity in the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards and Academic Integrity
  • Jeremy Bourgoin, director of the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards and Academic Integrity
Evolution at Vanderbilt: A Historical Perspective

This project will explore the history of evolutionary studies at Vanderbilt through a cross-disciplinary virtual museum using 3D photogrammetry, images and captivating storytelling.

  • Andrew Flick, scientific coordinator for the Evolutionary Studies Initiative
Dare to Grow, Lead, and Thrive at Vanderbilt: From the Frontline to the Sideline to the Boardroom

This grant will provide support for students to learn about past leaders from Vanderbilt and the local community, interact with and learn from the university’s current leaders, and receive training on leadership as they head toward their careers.

  • Jill Stratton, assistant provost for residential education and associate dean for residential colleges
V150: The Many Faces of Vanderbilt

This project will result in a series of photographs of Vanderbilt community members who have made significant contributions to the university in areas such as academics, athletics, research and philanthropy. The portraits will be displayed in the libraries across campus.

  • John Russell, director of visual media in Communications and Marketing
  • Jason Routhier, art director in Communications and Marketing
  • Jon Shaw, university librarian
  • Zack Eagles, creative director in Communications and Marketing
  • Glenna Underhill, project manager in Communications and Marketing
Strong Inside: The Story of Perry Wallace (a Nashville Children’s Theatre production for young audiences)

This project’s team members will work with Nashville Children’s Theatre to develop and produce the world-premiere stage adaptation of Andrew Maraniss’ New York Times bestselling biography of Perry Wallace, Strong Inside, introducing thousands of young Middle Tennessee students and families to Wallace’s inspirational story.

  • Anneliese DeDiemar, associate director of Development and Alumni Relations Communications
  • Andrew Maraniss, special projects
Producing Democratic Citizens: A History of Debate, Deliberation, and Dialogue at Vanderbilt University

This project will explore and digitize university archives to document Vanderbilt’s rich history of fostering debate, deliberation and dialogue on campus.

  • John Koch, senior lecturer in communication studies and director of debate
  • ML Sandoz, principal senior lecturer in communication studies and director of forensics
  • Gavin Gill, head debate coach
  • Kaylee Kohlmaier, alumna and attorney in the Metropolitan Nashville Public Defender’s Office
  • Kamie Lightburn, alumna and entrepreneur
Let’s Keep Talking: Immersive Small Talk to Support Networking Skills

This grant will support the creation of a virtual/augmented reality workplace prototype that can help multilingual students develop the small-talk conversation skills needed for networking.

  • Susan Barone, director of the English Language Center
  • Jim Cracraft, assistant director of the English Language Center
  • Sandra Bancroft-Billings, assistant director of the English Language Center
  • Michelle Perdomo, postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Psychology and Human Development
Promoting Academic Excellence through Experiential Learning in Cancer

The aim of this project is to celebrate the history of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center while encouraging the development of the next generation of physician educators and scientists through an immersive teaching experience that pairs VICC research fellows with Vanderbilt students.

  • Michelle Grundy, assistant professor of medical education and administration
  • Ben Park, Benjamin F. Byrd Professor of Oncology and professor of medicine
  • Mia Cecala, undergraduate student
Sabana Larga Water Supply Project

The goal of this project is to create a water distribution system that will provide accessible and safe drinking water to all residents of Sabana Larga, a rural farming community in Nicaragua.

  • Christopher Lofts, vice president of external affairs for the Vanderbilt Chapter of Engineers Without Borders USA
  • Anna Berger Romeu, president of the Vanderbilt Chapter of Engineers Without Borders USA
  • Brandon Dorsey, project manager for the Vanderbilt Chapter of Engineers Without Borders USA
  • Matthew McPhail, project manager for the Vanderbilt Chapter of Engineers Without Borders USA
Somos VU: Bringing Together Student Organizations, Alumni, and the Institutional History of CLACXt

This project aims to create a mural, a digital photo archive and a narrative timeline that document the history of the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies at Vanderbilt.

  • Avery Dickins de Girón, executive director of CLACX
  • Celso Castilho, associate professor of history and director of CLACX
  • Marshall Eakin, professor of history



Does my proposal need IRB approval prior to applying for this grant?


Who is the target audience for the proposals?

Proposals are reviewed by a review committee which includes Vanderbilt University-employed faculty and staff. The names of the reviewers will be posted on the website by August 26th. 

What are the reporting requirements and processes?

Grantees are required to submit an annual report to the Office of the Chancellor. We will share specific reporting information and requirements once grants are awarded.

By what date do funds need to be used by?

All funds need to be used within 24 months after they are awarded.

May I reapply if I do not receive funding in the first application round?

Yes. Individuals and teams who are not awarded funding in the first application round are encouraged to apply in subsequent application rounds. Individuals and teams who are unsuccessful will receive feedback from the review committee so they may revise any future applications should they apply again in the future.

Who receives feedback after the proposals are submitted and winners are selected?

Each applicant will receive feedback from the review committee whether or not they receive funding.

What support is available for graduate or professional students?

Graduate student payments, including stipends and fees may be covered. Funds cannot be used to cover tuition or financial aid.

What dollar amount should I consider when requesting to hire a student assistant?

Student compensation is a school-based standard and also varies by student status (undergraduate, professional or graduate). Please consult your FUM, HCM specialist, department administrator or Dean’s office.

What guidelines should be followed when hiring student assistants?

Department administrators and HCM specialists should be engaged during the student hiring process to make sure all university and department policies are followed. Funds may not be used for the following:

  • Graduate student recruiting
  • Graduate students’ professional development cost or programs
  • Student tuition or financial aid 

What should the budget look like?

Applicants must use the budget template available in InfoReady. By using this template, applicants can show the amount requested and the itemized estimated expenses. The template should also be used to track the actual expenses throughout the grant cycle. There is also a section in the application where applicants are asked to provide a detailed description of how funds will be used.

I have a question that is not answered here. Who can I contact to discuss my question?

Please email

What is Vanderbilt University’s mission statement?

Vanderbilt University is a center for scholarly research, informed and creative teaching, and service to the community and society at large.


Who is eligible to apply for this grant?

Vanderbilt faculty, staff, students, and alumni are invited to apply for this grant. The proposal lead must be a Vanderbilt University-employed faculty or staff member.

I am a student. How can I apply for this grant if I am not a Vanderbilt-employed faculty or full-time staff member?

Students are welcome and encouraged to apply for this grant and must identify a Vanderbilt University-employed faculty or staff member who will sponsor and advise their work. The faculty or staff member will need to serve as the lead applicant for the application in InfoReady.

I am an alumnus. How can I apply for this grant if I am not a Vanderbilt-employed faculty or staff member?

Alumni are welcome and encouraged to apply for this grant and must identify a Vanderbilt University-employed faculty or staff member who will sponsor their work. The faculty or staff member will need to serve as the lead applicant for the application in InfoReady.

Is this grant available to research (non-tenure-track) faculty?

Yes, all full-time VU-faculty are eligible to apply.

What are the parameters regarding teamwork with VUMC faculty?

All funding must be expensed by Vanderbilt, however, VUMC faculty are welcome to be members on the proposal team.

Can VUMC faculty apply for the Sesquicentennial grant?

Yes, VUMC faculty can apply, but they must have a Vanderbilt University-employed faculty or staff on their team to manage the funds. All funding must be expensed through Vanderbilt University’s ERP system, Oracle Cloud.

Can VUMC faculty use the funds to hire temporary staff to support their project?

Yes, VUMC faculty, with a Vanderbilt University co-applicant, can hire temporary staff via the Vanderbilt University VTS process. The VTS hiring process must go through the Vanderbilt University-employed faculty or staff department. The funds cannot be used for temporary staff hired directly by VUMC.

Can VUMC faculty use the funds for VUMC staff salary to support their project?


Funding Uses

Are there any restrictions on how funds may be used? If so, what are the restrictions?

Yes, there are restrictions to how these grant funds may be used. Unallowable uses generally include:

  • Tuition or financial aid support for students
  • Faculty salaries
  • Course buyout

May funds be used for course buyout?


May funds be used for staffing?

Funds may be used to hire part-time staff, technical staff, or student staff.

May funds be used to hire student workers?