PDRI-DevLab Graduate Student Research Grants

April 2023 | Luis Sevilla

The DevLab@Penn/Penn Development Research Initiative (PDRI) offers grants to support Penn graduate students, predoctoral fellows and postdoctoral fellows doing research on the challenges facing low- and middle-income countries.

Grants are offered once a year, in the spring/summer. Students may apply for grants of up to $2,500. DevLab/PDRI plans to fund up to 10 research projects.

What we fund

Funds may be used for the following purposes:

  • Costs associated with field research.
  • Costs associated with data collection (including online panels, so long as the target country is not considered a high-income country).
  • Travel to libraries, archives, special collections, or other research sites.
  • Purchase of data, research materials, research-related software, and/or specialized equipment.
  • Undergraduate research assistant time for appropriate tasks (e.g., data entry).

Applicants may combine DevLab/PDRI funding with other sources of funding for their projects. Grants are open to individual students as well as for collaborative projects between graduate students.


Any full-time Penn doctoral student, predoc or postdoc enrolled in any school is eligible to apply. Applicants are not required to hold any affiliation with DevLab/PDRI, though we encourage grant recipients to participate in our activities.

Proposed research projects should focus on challenges facing low- and middle- income countries. Proposals for research based in high-income countries with clear relevance to international development (e.g., international migration) may receive consideration.


The application must use the provided template, and should include:

  • A 2-page proposal describing the proposed research project, its importance, the methods for conducting the research, and an expected timeline
  • An itemized budget and brief budget narrative describing how the funds will be used.
  • The applicant’s CV.
  • Evidence of application to other funding sources, whether on or off campus.

Application instructions

Applicants should email their application materials to pdri-info@sas.upenn.edu with the subject line “PDRI research grant application”.

Deadline: Friday, April 14, 23:59 EST
Awards will be announced within 4 weeks of the application deadline.

Evaluation criteria

Proposals will be assessed by an interdisciplinary panel of DevLab/PDRI leadership and faculty affiliates. Each proposal will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • Scientific merit of the proposed research project (e.g., the topic is of substantive importance; the project proposes appropriate methods to answer its research question)
  • The ability of the applicant to successfully implement the proposed research
  • Appropriateness of proposed budget. The budget should be frugal and clearly justified.

Award obligations

  • Grant recipients are required to provide a brief (1-2 pages) final report on the activities funded by the DevLab/PDRI grant.
  • Awardees are expected to present results of their research in DevLab/PDRI’s events (workshops and/or seminars).
  • Grant recipients are expected to serve as “good citizens” of DevLab/PDRI. This includes  regular participation in DevLab/PDRI events and activities.

For further information and questions, contact PDRI at pdri-info@sas.upenn.edu.