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ILEX Grant Inspires Rigorous, Creative Scholarship Among Honors Students

The ILEX grant provides honors students with resources to enhance their academic experience at SLU.  Honors Program students can apply for up to $1,200 to carry out their own original scholarly, research, or creative projects.


Julia Griffin (Doisy ’20) completed her ILEX project in Peru in the summer of 2019.

Each year, the Honors Program awards Investigative Learning Experience (ILEX) grants as part of a competitive selection process.  Active members of the Honors Program, as well as recipients of SLU’s Presidential Scholarship, may apply for up to $1,200 of funding to carry out an original scholarly, research, or creative endeavor connected to their major field(s) of study.  The grant covers expenses like equipment, conference registration fees, travel expenses, and other items that facilitate students’ investigative efforts.

During the 2018-2019 academic year, the Honors Program distributed over $13,000 to 13 ILEX recipients.  The approved projects included laboratory studies on carbon nanotubes and perennial legumes, multimedia projects on race and representation at SLU, ethnographic research on physician burnout, international travel to Belize to pilot occupational therapy services, and more.  The range of projects serves as a reminder of the rich intellectual diversity and ambition of SLU Honors Program students.  All project titles are listed below:

Robert Pampel, Ph.D., Director of the University Honors Program and the administrator of the grant process, believes the ILEX grant is at the heart of SLU’s mission.  “For an institution like SLU, it is essential that students gain experience with the research enterprise, regardless of their field of study.  The ILEX grant gives students the space and the resources to pursue inventive projects and to exhibit a strong scholarly and creative spirit along the way.  Many of our projects are aptly described as ‘the pursuit of truth’ for the service of others.'”

Brisa Garcia (A&S ’19) used her ILEX grant to create a documentary film on the experience of international students at SLU.  She described her ILEX project as “an incredible learning experience for me and a productive way for me to synthesize the questions and issues I have been thinking about throughout my time at SLU.”

Nicholas Schaper (A&S ’19), who completed a laboratory study on the use of nanomaterials in the medical field shared, “this experience provided a perfect finish to my four years at Saint Louis University, combining both my love for physics and my passion for the medical field, all while pursuing the rigorous standards of the honors curriculum.  My work was only made possible through the ILEX funding I received which allowed me to achieve much more than I anticipated.”

The Honors Program distributes funds on a semi-annual basis.  The next round of funding will be in November of 2019.

The Honors Program at Saint Louis University, established in 1938, engages intellectually curious and academically successful students in a community oriented towards the Jesuit ideals of holistic learning, academic rigor, and community engagement. Through a combination of individually tailored curricula, experiential learning opportunities, and developmental guidance and mentorship, the Honors Program prepares students to become citizens who engage in the process of inquiry and apply their knowledge in service to society.