SMU’s Big iDeas program is giving big bucks for big solutions that improve the quality of life in Big D.

The program, launched in 2008 by the Provost’s Office, will give 10 undergraduate interdisciplinary teams up to $5,000 each to research and address challenges the Dallas area faces, including health care, the environment, education and energy.

Students should note two important dates:

Friday, November 13, 2009: 9:30 a.m., Fall Big iDeas Symposium: A Progress Report, at Hughes-Trigg Forum
Friday, January 29, 2010: 2010 proposals are due

BigIdeas.jpg This year’s projects include “Real Fuel on Campus,” an effort to reduce emissions by converting SMU’s food service waste vegetable oil to biodiesel; “Omega Delta Phi’s Young Knights,” a mentoring program to encourage at-risk Dallas high schoolers to pursue college; and “Profiting from Nonprofits,” a study of Dallas’ nonprofit sector in a tough economy.

In photo: Andres Ruzo ’09, with Maria Richards, SMU Geothermal Lab Coordinator and project adviser, is part of a Big iDeas team investigating possible geothermal resources located under campus. “People don’t know how much energy is right beneath their feet,” says Ruzo, who earned Bachelor’s degrees in geology and finance in May and is now a geophysics graduate student in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences.

Learn more about undergraduate research opportunities at