Office of Research > SHARP Guidelines

Guidelines for the Student Honorary Awards for Research and Practice ('SHARP') Award Applications: 2014-2015 Academic Year


The purpose of the Student Honorary Awards for Research and Practice ("SHARP’" award is to provide financial assistance to University of South Florida, College of Public Health (COPH) graduate students who are traveling to present their research or practice at a local, state, regional, national, or international professional meeting/conference.


Applications must be received on the first Monday of each month by 6:00 pm to be considered for review during that same month. If the first Monday of the month falls on a university holiday, then applications will be accepted on the next business day that the University is open. (e.g. Monday, September 1, 2014 is Labor Day, which is a university holiday. Therefore, the SHARP applications for the month of September will be due on September 2, 2014.)

A student should submit a SHARP application 8 weeks prior to the conference during which he/she will be presenting his/her research to ensure that there is sufficient time for: (a) the COPH Office of Research to process and review the application and (b) the student to work with the departmental administrator to ensure that a USF Travel Authorization Request (TAR) form is entered into the university system.


A student may receive only one SHARP award per academic year to assist with travel expenses associated with participation in a professional meeting/conference.


Depending upon availability of funds, a student may be awarded up to $500 for conferences within the United States and up to $750 for international conferences.


Allowable travel expenses are listed below. Please consult with your department if you have questions concerning allowable travel expenses or if you need assistance with travel forms. Please refer to the USF Travel Policy Manual at for details.
  • Local travel (defined as within 50 miles of the University of South Florida):
    • Mileage is considered as an allowable cost for local travel.
    • Meals are NOT an allowable cost for local travel.
    • Lodging is NOT an allowable cost for local travel.
    • Conference Registration Fee(s): are allowable expenses.

  • Domestic travel (within the United States) and Foreign travel:
    • Airfare and ground transportation to/from airport: - is an allowable cost.
    • Mileage: is an allowable cost.
    • Lodging: is an allowable cost.
    • Meals: are an allowable cost, however, meals will not be reimbursed if the meeting/conference provides them.
    • Conference Registration Fee(s): are allowable expenses
    • Incidentals: (e.g. tolls and parking) - are allowable expenses.

  • Non-allowable expenses - See page 24 of travel manual.


The COPH SHARP award is a competitive internal award within the COPH and students receive funding through the University Travel Reimbursement Process. Students applying for the COPH SHARP award are advised to prepare a well-written and complete application according to the guidelines on this website and use the downloadable application form. Students may contact Ellen Kent, MPH, CPH, COPH Student Research Grants Coordinator, at (813) 974 6622 or if they have specific questions regarding the SHARP application.

In order to be eligible for the SHARP award, COPH students must meet the following criteria. The student applicant must:

  • Be a fully-admitted master's or doctoral level COPH student.
  • Have conducted research that is relevant to public health, as part of his/her academic program and training while enrolled as a student at the COPH (e.g., graduate assistantship, class project, field experience, special project, thesis, dissertation, etc.)
  • Be in good academic standing and currently enrolled for at least 2 COPH credit hours at the time the SHARP Award application is submitted AND at the time of the conference presentation.
  • Have (a) received notice of acceptance of an abstract for presentation at a professional meeting/ conference or (b) have received a formal invitation to prepare for/participate in a “case” analysis and/or competition at a professional meeting/ conference.
  • Plan to present at the meeting.
  • Not have received a previous SHARP award during the same academic year.
  • Have submitted reports of prior SHARP and/or SRS awards.
  • Have completed podcasts for all prior SHARP awards received during previous years (e.g. 2013-2014 or 2012-2013 or earlier).


Students should deliver TWO fully completed hard copies with all required appendices to Ellen Kent, Room 1058 of the WELL, the new USF Health Shared Student Services Center, in a manila clasp envelope labeled SHARP application for "Your Name." Out of town students may mail the hard copies of the applications to Mrs. Kent at USF College of Public Health, 13201 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. Tampa, FL 33612. Students should also email an electronic copy of the application to Name your file as follows: Yourlastname-SHARP. Please send all files at one time in one email and if possible, please try to combine all of the relevant information into one file. You can expect an email acknowledgement from Mrs. Kent within 2-3 days.


Step 1: CHECKLIST for submitting a complete application:
  • Application cover sheet (page 1 of application form) with student’s contact information and endorsement signatures of student, student's advisor and department chair.
  • A printout (hard copy) of the abstract (which is often available at the conclusion of the electronic submission process on the conference website) that includes all authors and affiliations listed.
  • A description of the project in layperson's terms.
  • Key information describing the professional meeting.
  • A clear explanation of how the presentation is relevant to the student’s course of study.
  • Proof of invitation to present/participate in the conference/meeting.
  • Conference brochure, web page or other materials pertaining to the conference.
  • Supporting documentation regarding ALL projected/anticipated costs associated with attending the conference, including print copies of: airline fare quotes; estimated taxi fares; hotel room quotes; conference registration fees; and meals. This supporting documentation is a very important component of the application.
  • Students should also provide documentation of other awards/scholarships that they have applied for and /or will be receiving which will cover a portion of the expenses associated with the conference. NOTE: Failure to provide complete and accurate information about other sources of funding may result in loss of the SHARP award.
  • The total amount of awards can not exceed the total costs of the conference.

Step 2: Notification of award status:

Students who are approved for funding through the SHARP award will receive a detailed congratulatory email from Ellen Kent, MPH, CPH, COPH Student Research Grants Coordinator, with details pertaining to pre- and post- travel requirements. Students who are not approved for funding will also be notified by email.

Step 3: BEFORE Travel: Submission of Travel Authorization Request:

If a student’s application has been approved, he/she must work with their departmental administrator to submit a USF Travel Authorization Request (TAR) form via the FAST Travel Module. In order for the student to receive reimbursement for travel expenses associated with the conference, the TAR must be approved in the Travel Module PRIOR TO the student’s travel to the conference. Travel expenses incurred prior to approval of the TAR may not be reimbursed. Step 4: AFTER Travel: SHARP award recipients are required to complete the following activities within 10 days after returning from the conference:

  • Submit Travel Expense Report (TER) to their COPH academic departmental administrator: As part of the university travel reimbursement process, SHARP recipients must submit documentation of all travel expenses. Departmental staff will aid the student in the completion of the Travel Expense Report (TER) via the FAST Travel Module and any additional required forms. For more information, please contact the Administrator in your academic department. Failure to complete the TER within 10 days may result in loss of funding.

  • Prepare and submit final typed report: The report should include:
    • The program schedule citing the student's presentation (NOTE: If the final abstract is different from the abstract submitted with the SHARP application, the final version of the abstract must be provided in the final report);
    • Verification that the student attended the conference and presented his/her research/practice (e.g. an email from a COPH faculty member who attended the conference; a certificate of attendance; a speaker's ribbon; a photograph of the student at the poster/oral presentation; etc.)
    • A paragraph describing the student’s impressions of the conference and how his/her attendance at the conference will be beneficial to his/her course of study/career.
    • A PDF of the poster that was presented at the conference, if applicable.

    Students should submit this report to Ellen Kent, MPH, CPH, electronically via email ( ) and also via print copy - please bring to Ms. Kent’s office, located in Room 1058 of the new USF Health Shared Student Services Center (the WELL)

  • Create a narrated presentation (Podcast): Students are also expected to create a narrated presentation (audio only) about their conference experience. With assistance from the COPH’s Office of Educational Technology and Assessment, this presentation will be posted as a podcast on the USF Health iTunes U site. Students will not be videotaped as part of this requirement. Students should contact Ellen Kent at 974-6622 to set up an audio taping session within 10 business days after returning from their conference. Off-campus students should contact Ellen Kent for further directions on how to complete this requirement.

    Prior to their audio taping session, students are encouraged to review the following guidelines for creating a podcast:
    • Prepare a short overview of your conference presentation; this overview should be no more than 10 PowerPoint slides. Slides should include:
      • Your name, program of study, department at COPH
      • Conference Name, location and date
      • Format of Presentation (oral or poster)
      • Presentation objectives
      • Description of your research findings
      • Your Impressions of the Conference and your Presentation
      • How attending this conference will be beneficial to your studies and/or career
      • Acknowledgement that this presentation was supported by the SHARP award. If additional sponsors/funders exist, please list them here as well.
    • As part of each slide, type in the narrative that goes with each slide. You can type this in as part of the slide’s notes.
    • Once this presentation is complete, save your presentation to a flash drive and contact Ellen Kent to schedule your audio taping session.
    • In the ETA Multimedia studio, you will narrate and record your voice narration over the PowerPoint slides you created. ETA personnel will help you with this process. You will use the notes in each of the slides to record the narration associated with that slide.
    • Once you complete the narration, your job is done! ETA personnel will compress the audio files into a web-based flash presentation and post the file onto USF Health iTunes U site as well as email a link of the presentation to you.
    A sample narrated presentation is posted at this link:

    Links to completed student podcasts are provided at:

    Students will be provided with a URL to access their individual presentation and further encouraged to include this link in their personal resume/CV.


  • Can I receive this award more than once while I am a COPH graduate student?
    • Yes, however, a student may receive only one SHARP award per fiscal year (the 2014-2015 fiscal year will be the time period of July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015.)

  • May I apply for the award while I am still enrolled as a master's level or doctoral student, if the conference at which I will present takes place after I graduate from that specific program?
    • No. Presentation at a conference must occur while the student is enrolled in the same graduate program. For example, a student may be scheduled to graduate from the COPH MPH program in early August (summer semester), with plans to begin a COPH doctoral program in late August (Fall Semester). If the student's abstract has been accepted for presentation at a conference in November, the student should wait to apply for the SHARP award in September.

  • May I apply for this award to present my research/practice at the annual APHA meeting?
    • Yes - Please submit your application by the September deadline.

  • May I apply for this award even if my estimated costs are less than $100, e.g., for registration fees at a local conference?
    • Yes

  • May I apply for this award AFTER presenting at the conference?
    • No

  • Can I have my research poster printed for free?
    • YES, COPH students may choose to have their posters printed free of charge at the COPH Copy Center as long as they use the COPH template, which can be downloaded from: (This template was designed to maximize the space available and to provide a common look and feel for all presentations from the College.)

  • In the event that two students have been invited to present abstracts at the same conference, can BOTH students apply for and receive a SHARP award for participation in the same conference?
    • Yes. Please note: If students are co-presenting the same abstract, (or case study), then SHARP award funding will be divided between the two students. If the students are presenting separate abstracts, each student may apply for and be awarded separate SHARP awards.

  • If I receive outside funding, e.g. from a professional society sponsoring the conference at which I will be presenting my research, can I still apply for the SHARP award?
    • Yes, if the outside funds are less than the costs of the conference, you may possibly receive some SHARP funds as a supplement. You must document the amount of your outside funds so that the committee can determine the most appropriate amount of funds for you to be allocated through the SHARP award. For example, if you are attending an out-of-state conference in Seattle, Washington, and your anticipated costs are $1000, and you know that you will be receiving $500 from the professional society, then it is possible that the COPH can provide you with a SHARP award of up to $500. However, if you know that you will receive $750 from the professional society and the conference costs are only $750, then it will not be necessary or appropriate for the COPH to issue the SHARP award.

  • Can I receive reimbursement for my attendance at this conference from both the COPH SHARP award and the Conference Presentation Grant Program (CPGP) award?

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    • Noplease be aware that according to the polices of the SG CPGP Policies and Procedures 5.2. Students shall not be awarded a Conference Presentation Grant if they are funded by another University Entity. Therefore, a COPH student may APPLY for both the SHARP award and the CPGP, but may only ACCEPT one of these two awards.

  • If I have received the SHARP award for one conference (e.g. in November) and then I learn that I have been accepted to present at another conference (e.g. in December), can I 'switch' my SHARP award to be applied to another conference?
    • NO. You can not simply 'switch' the current SHARP award to another conference, as you would need to reapply for a new SHARP award to present at the new conference. Please also be aware that as per step 2 above in the SHARP guidelines, when you receive email notification about your SHARP award from Ellen Kent, MPH, CPH, COPH Student Research Grants Coordinator, the administrator for your department and the Dean's Office finance officers are also copied into this email, and they work on your behalf to submit the USF Travel Authorization Request (TAR) form. If for any reason you will NOT be able to travel to the conference, please contact your departmental administrator immediately so that they can begin the process to cancel your TAR.

  • I am a dual degree student, and I am enrolled in both the COPH and another academic program within USF (e.g. Anthropology, Social Work, Nursing, Medicine, Physical Therapy, etc.). Can I apply for funding to present my research at a conference targeted towards professionals outside of public health?
    • Possibly – If you can carefully document how your attendance at this conference clearly relates to your course of study at the COPH. You will need to explain how your presentation at this conference is related to your current and future COPH course work or research. It is also important that you include the COPH as your affiliation (or one of your affiliations) on the abstract and poster/presentation.

If students still have additional questions after carefully reviewing these guidelines and the downloadable application form, they are welcome to contact Ellen Kent, MPH, CPH (Coordinator, Student Research Grants), by email: or phone: 813-974-6622 or in Room 1058 of the WELL, the new USF Health Shared Student Services Center.