Harvard University Graduate School of Design | Department of Landscape Architecture

The Penny White Project Fund annually awards up to $50,000 in project funding for student-submitted research proposals. The call is open to all graduate, postgraduate, and doctoral students at the GSD, including collaborations across programs and disciplines.

Winifred G. (Penny) White had just completed her second year of the MLA program when she died suddenly of leukemia in 1976. In her memory that same year, her family established this fund to offer financial support for student projects. The goal was to “carry forward Penny’s ideal of a culture which emphasizes a close relationship between people and nature in a cohesive living environment.”

All students across the GSD at the graduate and doctoral levels are eligible for support for any project that addresses the broad objectives of the fund. Past awards have ranged from $200 to $4,500.

The objectives of the Penny White Student Project Fund are:

  • Promote creative thought by providing students with an opportunity to pursue their own original projects.
  • Promote the development of a land ethic, which integrates the preservation and enhancement of natural systems through studies of design, ecology, and natural science
  • Provide opportunities for students to diversify their graduate study in areas both within and outside the normal curriculum, for example, such fields as geomorphology, microclimatology, and soil mechanics.



Pablo Pérez-Ramos, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture (Committee Chair)

Jungyoon Kim, Assistant Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture

David Moreno Mateos, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture


Catherine Auger, MLA I AP ‘23

Bert De Jonghe, MDS ‘21, DDES ‘24

Elaine Stokes, MLA I AP ’16, DDES ‘24

Erin Voss, MLA I ‘23


Gary Hilderbrand, Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture & Peter Louis Hornbeck Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture

Karen Janosky, Director of the Master in Landscape Architecture Program & Lecturer in Landscape Architecture

Ann Whiteside, Librarian & Assistant Dean for Information Services


Questions? Contact the Department of Landscape Architecture at [email protected].



All students enrolled in the Harvard Graduate School of Design are eligible to submit project proposals that address the objectives of the Penny White Project Fund. Although all GSD students are eligible, according to the Fund terms: “…it is expected that preference will be given to students in the Department of Landscape Architecture.” The Committee looks favorably upon collaboration between students in Landscape Architecture with other design disciplines.

Students can apply to both Calls for Proposals (Penny White and Courances), if desired. The Committee recommends that such applicants note that due to student travel policies, we cannot fund students who plan to travel to high-risk travel locations.

Please review the risk ratings on the Harvard Global Support Services page here.


Students may work individually or in teams, and in conjunction with or independently from their coursework.


Proposals are evaluated on several criteria, including:

  • Quality and clarity of the project
  • Originality of research
  • Feasibility of the budget and schedule
  • Relevance to the Fund’s objectives
  • Nature of the outcome
  • Contribution to the field of landscape architecture

The Committee will pay special attention to the:

  • Focus and quality of the proposals
  • Relationship project objectives and proposed travel (if applicable)
  • Relevance to the field of landscape architecture

The Fund welcomes projects that promote research at the intersection of systemic inequity and social and environmental justice, and that focus on the advancement of the political agency of landscape architecture as an activist, collaborative, and participatory practice.


Students may review past projects as listed on this page. To review completed projects, please contact the Loeb Library Archives.


The yearly deadline for proposals is late in January. Late or incomplete proposals will not be considered. The Committee will meet following the submission of proposals, and final awards will be announced early in the Spring semester. Projects must be completed and final reports must be submitted to the Department of Landscape Architecture by September 22nd, 2023.

It is strongly recommended that, in the preparation of their proposals, applicants consult the Scholarly Pursuits: A Guide to Professional Development during the Graduate Years, a guide written by Cynthia Verba, Fellowships Advisor at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The guide offers valuable recommendations on how to: construct and polish arguments in the development of a grant application; write an abstract; and compose the general organization of ideas.


Only one grant may be awarded per student, either individually or in group. Collaboration with students that have already received an award from the Penny White Project Fund is not allowed. No additional funding will be provided after the award date.


The Fund accepts proposals from GSD students currently in their final year, with conditions. Final-year applicants will be required to explain in their proposals the very specific dates in which they plan to travel or develop other activities associated with their research, how they plan to complete the project beyond graduation, and how they plan to report and submit their work by the deadline.


Applicants will be requested to submit the names of two project advisors, including an Internal Faculty Advisor from the GSD and an External Project Advisor, who are aware of the project and support its potential outcomes. Please note that the Internal Faculty Advisor should not be someone on the Faculty Jury Committee who reviews the proposals. Applicants are strongly encouraged to start working in consultation with a project advisor as soon as possible.


Competition for the Penny White Fund takes place in a one-stage process of selection.


Application deadline: January 15th, 2023, 11:59 pm EST.

Applicants must submit a digital copy (PDF format) of their proposal to [email protected]

File name must be in this format: LastName_FirstName_PW2023

Late or incomplete proposals will not be accepted.


Recipients of the 2023 Penny White Project Fund will be announced early in the Spring semester.


Winners will receive further guidelines as to final report formats from the Department of Landscape Architecture and the Frances Loeb Library nearer to the due date in September 2023. If you are interested in viewing reports from previous Penny White recipients, most are available in the Special Collections of the Loeb Library.

Final Report submission deadline: September 24, 2023

Awardees must submit both a hard copy and a digital copy of their final report to:

Department of Landscape Architecture

48 Quincy Street, Room 312

Cambridge, MA 02138

[email protected]

One-fourth of awarded funds will be held back and released upon submission of the final report.

The Final Report should consist of the following contents compiled:

  • Revised Project Summary: summary of the main objectives and scope of the investigation, the method and approach that has been followed, the learnings and outcomes (between 200 and 300 words).
  • Revised Project Description: a more elaborated, clear, and comprehensive description of the project, also looking at the main objectives and scope, method and approach, learnings and outcomes of the investigation (two to three pages).
  • Revised Schedule and Itinerary: it should include maps of the itinerary followed, and the research conducted and tasks accomplished in each phase of the schedule and location in the itinerary.
  • Project Images: between 10 and 30 annotated photographs, maps, diagrams.
  • Project Photography: between 30 and 70 site photographs.
  • Learning Outcomes: What has been learned? What was initially expected and what was actually found? How did the project evolve during the preparation of the field work, during the trip, and afterwards? How has this opportunity impacted your understanding of design as a form of research? (two to three pages).
  • Conclusions: explain your conclusions, both partial and general, and whether, why, and how this project will be continued (two to three pages).


The maximum proposal length is 16 pages, 8.5×11”, portrait format. Applicants are strongly recommended to not exceed this length.


One page containing project title, your name, program affiliation, expected graduation year, address (mail, email), date, total budget request.


One-page brief description (200 words) of the main objective and scope of the project, including proposed method, and expected outcome. The abstract should clearly identify if the project is a case study, site investigation, a prototypical experiment, or any other form of research.


3A. Project Description (half page): a clear and comprehensive description of the project, its objectives, main tasks and outcomes. The description includes conditions addressed, questions asked, or hypotheses tested. The description must also describe if a similar project of this type has been done before, how it is different, what is aims to accomplish, and what is the substantive contribution to the field of landscape.

3B. Project Background (half page): a succinct outline of the project’s specific spatial, ecological and geographic context. The project background should also outline the historic, theoretical, scientific, representational, or practical discourse of the project, in relation to research and design in landscape architecture. Background information should be supported by relevant sources which might include reference literature, case studies, precedents, past projects. Clear and concise graphic illustration of the project background is encouraged.


One-page explanation that describes the method that will be used to accomplish the main project tasks. In this section, precedents, historic case studies, earlier work with methods like those suggested in the proposal may be cited and will be used to clearly frame the discourse and the type of project in question. The project might be also identified in this section with specific modes of landscape architecture practice. The methods section should also describe if travel is essential for the coherent development of the research project and why.

The Landscape Architectural Research: Inquiry, Strategy, Design by M. Elen Deming and Simon Swaffield (2010) is a helpful guide regarding research methods in landscape architecture.

There might be human subjects involved in the content of the research. In such cases, research needs to be guided by the ethical principles set forth in the Belmont Report, which seeks the Protection of Human Subjects of Research. For research projects that deal with human subjects, it is strongly recommended that awarded students send their proposal to the Harvard’s Committee on the Use of Human Subjects for revision. Visit the Committee on the Use of Human Subjects page for more information.


Additional graphic material in the form of maps and diagrams that supports the project proposal, illustrating the area of research, the content of the research, visual methodologies, and examples of the outcomes (up to a maximum of 5 pages). All project imaging should be high resolution, with captions and sources.


One-page detailed description of the project timetable, start and end dates, timeline for main tasks, travel itinerary (if applicable) and sequence of deliverables. Please note that reasonable time must be dedicated to advance the definition of the project itself, to the preparation of the logistics of the trip (if applicable), and to the completion of the deliverables. If traveling, please consider including a map of the area in which the project is to be developed, particularly if there are specific itineraries within the area that would help the committee understand the nature of your trip.


A one-page, detailed itemization of all anticipated expenses including:

  • Travel (air and ground travel)
  • Accommodations (hotel)
  • Equipment and Resources (supplies, fuel, power, documentation, reproduction, copy)
  • Incidentals (security, visa, guide, translation)

Although expenses for food and normal per diem costs are not covered by the Fund, project budgeting must demonstrate a clear understanding of project expenses and regional incidentals. The budget should not underestimate costs that might adversely affect the outcomes of the project. Any additional funding sources from other grant agencies must be disclosed.

Any equipment purchased with the funds remains the property of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and must be returned to the Department of Landscape Architecture upon completion of the project.


One-page description of tangible benefits, findings, and contributions of the project to the discipline of landscape architecture and fields of design. The anticipated product and impact must be feasible, providing new insights and new impacts on design, submissions to journal publications, contributions to collections, concurrent conferences, and community engagements. Provide an itemized list of actual outcomes (a conference, a paper, a map, a presentation, an interview, an installation) with relevant dates, as applicable. Outcomes and deliverables must be tangible, substantive, and feasible.


Applicant(s) must submit a maximum 2-page CV outlining their education, experience, and other relevant background to demonstrate capability and responsibility. For proposals developed by teams, each student can include an individual 2-page CV.


One-page list of references, books, websites from preliminary research that demonstrates knowledge of the project discourse, area, and scope.


One page with information of two advisors as Project Endorsers, including an Internal Faculty Advisor from the GSD, and an External Project Advisor related to the project tasks. List names, positions, and contact information, including email address and mailing address. Advisors may be contacted during the Selection Process.

The Internal Faculty Advisor should not be someone on the Faculty Jury Committee who reviews the proposals.