Holster Scholars Program

  • Photo of 2023 Holster Scholars
    Robert Holster '68 (CLAS), left, with the 2023 cohort of Holster Scholars (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

The Holster Scholars Program is a selective enrichment opportunity available only to first-year Honors students.  The program supports a small number of motivated students who pursue independent research, design, or creative projects during the summer following their first year. Holster projects are in-depth, individualized learning experiences pursued under the direction of a faculty mentor.  Beyond some basic requirements, projects are self-designed.

Program at a Glance

Program At a Glance

In the fall of each year, Honors freshmen may submit applications with a preliminary project proposal. A subset of these students are selected to participate in a one-credit course to develop their proposals, connect with potential mentors, and hone their ideas. They then re-submit final proposals in March and interview with the Holster selection committee.

Approximately 8-9 students will each be awarded grants of up to approximately $4,400 to complete their projects during the summer under the guidance of a faculty mentor.  Scholars present their work in the fall of their sophomore year at the Holster Scholars Symposium.

Possible Projects

“Think outside the box” in terms of the shape and substance your projects. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  •     Scientific / technical research
  •     Archival or text-based research
  •     Creative arts: music, composition, drama, painting, photography, film
  •     Design work / invention
  •     Field observation / data collection
  •     Experiential learning related to an academic discipline

Every project must include

  • Some form of research and methodology
  • Some form of reflection
  • Academic writing (even for creative arts, engineering, or experiential learning projects)


  • Finalists receive permission to join the spring Holster Project Development course.
  • Individualized mentoring and guidance from faculty and staff
  • Peer support for your intellectual pursuits
  • Experience designing, implementing, and presenting your work
  • Selected scholars receive up to $4,400 of summer research funding

Funding for projects can be used to support housing, food, equipment, books, copying and printing, travel, and/or any materials you need to complete your project. 

2023-24 Timeline


September In Person Information Sessions

Thursday, Sept. 21, 6:00-7:00, Buckley Classroom

Monday,  Sept. 25, 7:00-8:00, Buckley Classroom

Virtual Information Session (use links below to access these meetings):

Tuesday, Sept. 26 - 12:00 Noon, Webex

Wednesday, Oct. 4, 12:00 Noon, Webex

Thursday, Oct. 5 - 12:00 Noon, Webex

Tuesday, Oct. 10 - 12:30PM, Webex

Wednesday, Oct. 11 - 12:20PM, Webex

Students are welcome to attend more than one information session, but the content at each session will be the basically the same.  

September Week of September 11: 2023-2024 Holster Scholars application goes live (https://quest.uconn.edu/prog/holster_application).
October October 6:  Holster Scholars 2023 Fall Symposium - 8:45AM-12:00PM in Konover Auditorium.  Public Welcome!  This is an Honors Event (#UHLevent10529), and prospective Holster Scholars are strongly encouraged to attend one or more panels.  There's no better way to get a sense of what a Holster Scholar project entails than to see the current Scholars present their work.

This is also a UConn Month of Discovery partner event. By attending, you can earn points toward the Discovery Quest challenge.  #discoveruconn

October Entire Month:  Interested students should be working actively on their applications.  All prospective applicants should schedule an appointment with Dr. Vin Moscardelli via Nexus to discuss their applications, mentor selection strategies, personal statements, etc.
November Nov. 5Application Workshop/Writing Retreat.  Buckley Classroom.  7:00pm - 9:00pm.  The program will provide refreshments and a quiet place to work for students who want to set aside a couple of hours to work on their applications.  Holster Scholars Program Coordinator Dr. Vin Moscardelli and some past Holster Scholars will be on hand and available to answer questions, provide feedback, etc.
November Nov. 9:  Application Deadline. The application will include a brief personal statement; a research proposal; additional prompts about what students hope to gain/learn from the experience, a letter from a HS teacher, counselor, or mentor; and a preliminary recommendation from a UConn faculty member.  Applications are due at 11:59pm.
December December 22:  Finalists Notified
Holster Scholar Finalists take a one-credit proposal development and research preparation course.  (The Spring 2024 course - UNIV-1730 - is currently scheduled to meet on Thursday afternoons from 3:30-5:30; please consider scheduling around this block if your application is still pending at the time of pre-registration.  If you're selected as a Finalist, you will be auto-enrolled in this section in January.)
Mid March
Final proposals due.  All Finalists will be interviewed by the selection committee after spring break.
April Holster Scholars (grant recipients) will be named.
As a Holster Scholar, you will complete your Holster research project the summer after your freshman year.
Fall 2024 You will present your work at a symposium on campus when you return as a sophomore. Your final presentation can take many forms: poster or slide presentation; research paper presentation; creative arts project (musical composition, dramatic staging; painting, photography exhibit; poetry reading, etc.); design model (for engineering, architecture, landscaping or environmental idea); a report on a community based initiative; film/podcast/radio piece.  The symposium usually takes place in September, although the 2023 symposium takes place the first week of October (Friday, October 6).

A Community of Scholars


In addition to receiving individualized mentoring, the Holster Scholars will provide peer support to each other as they develop their projects. After their first year, Scholars have the opportunity to serve as peer mentors to new Holster Scholars and are encouraged to pursue additional research and enrichment opportunities, including (but not limited to) those offered by the Office of Undergraduate Research (e.g., IDEA, SURF, SHARE, and Change Grants; the Health Research Program, and the BOLD Scholarship), the Division of Student Affairs (e.g., the Leadership Legacy Experience and various Student Life Awards), and the Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships (e.g., Rhodes, Truman, and Fulbright).

Selection and Eligibility


  • Candidates must be freshmen enrolled in the UConn Honors Program
  • Only students at the Storrs and Stamford campuses are eligible
  • Holster Scholars must maintain “good standing” in the Honors Program


  • Candidates are selected by an interdisciplinary panel of faculty, staff, and administrators
  • Finalists are interviewed as part of the selection process
  • Criteria for selection are outlined on the application and include a strong written proposal, personal statement, resume, recommendations, and an interview

Program History and Roster of Current & Past Holster Scholars


The Holster Scholars Program was inspired by Robert Holster's own excitement in discovering new paths of learning as a member of the inaugural class of UConn's Honors Program.  

Since its inception in 2010, the program has supported 120 Scholars and 101 different faculty mentors hailing from 49 academic departments, centers, and institutes spread across seven different schools and colleges. Their work (some of which is archived here) represents the range of disciplinary diversity that exists at UConn and has resulted in patents, publications, art installations, and lifesaving community-interventions both here and abroad. In that time, program alumni have gone on to receive numerous prestigious, nationally-competitive scholarships and fellowships, including the Marshall, Mitchell, Truman, Udall, and Goldwater Scholarships, NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, and various grants awarded through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Alumni currently populate some of the best graduate and professional programs in the world.

Perhaps most importantly, Holster Scholars past and present constitute a community of scholars. Because the awards go to students at an early stage of their development, the program has an outsized impact on the students and their development. In the process, Holster becomes an identity that shapes Scholars' experience throughout their time at UConn, and often beyond.

Learn More About Past Holster Scholars and their Projects

2024 Holster Scholars (current cohort)

2023 Holster Scholars

2022 Holster Scholars

2021 Holster Scholars

2020 Holster Scholars

2019 Holster Scholars

2018 Holster Scholars

2017 Holster Scholars

2016 Holster Scholars

2015 Holster Scholars

2014 Holster Scholars

2013 Holster Scholars

2012 Holster Scholars

2011 Holster Scholars

Click Here to Apply

Holster Scholars Program Application

All 2023-24 Holster Scholars Program applications must be submitted electronically through the Quest Portal.

Access the application at the following URL:  https://quest.uconn.edu/prog/holster_application

Application deadline:  November 9, 2023 @ 11:59pm.

Additional Instructions/Resources
Please note that you must request the two required recommendations (one from a UConn faculty member and one from a HS teacher or mentor) in Quest.  This means that if you're planning to apply, you need to initiate an application by following the link above as soon as possible in order to request the recommendations and ensure they arrive before the Nov. 9 application deadline. We've made some sample proposals from previous semesters available for your review in the Quest Portal.  You can access them once you launch your application.


Vin Moscardelli
Director, Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships
Coordinator, Holster Scholars Program
(860) 486-0087
John W. Rowe Building (ROWE) 426A