SURA: Science Undergraduate Research Awards

This page contains information for Summer 2017, including the new Social Equity SURAs.

Science Undergraduate Research Awards (SURAs) are for both Canadian and international McGill students registered in a science undergraduate program. SURA recipients will engage in 16 weeks of full-time research and development activity under the supervision of a McGill science professor holding grant funding, and will gain research experience in an exciting academic setting, while receiving financial support. First offered in Summer 2007, SURAs are made possible by funding from generous donors, participating research supervisors, and the Faculty of Science. For Summer 2017, SURAs will be valued at $5600 minimum.

SURAs are broadly similar to the NSERC USRA; two differences are, on the student side, that international students may apply, and on the supervisor side, it is not restricted to professors who hold research grants from NSERC.

  • Value: $5600 minimum (source: donor and/or Faculty of Science, $2800; supervisor, minimum $2800);
  • 16 weeks of full-time research;
  • Awarded on the basis of academic merit, in accordance with departmental selection procedures;
  • Also open to international students from McGill.

Student eligibility: 'Regular' SURAs

SURA applicants must:

  • Be registered in an undergraduate B.Sc. or B.A. & Sc. science program;
    • B.A. students are not eligible to apply for a SURA, but should look into the Arts Undergraduate Research Internship Awards (ARIA).
    • B.A. & Sc. students with an undeclared major, or who have declared an Arts major concentration but not a Science major concentration, are not eligible to hold an award. They should declare their second major concentration in Science, or a B.A. & Sc. interfaculty/ B.A. & Sc. honours / B.A. & Sc. joint honours program.
    • Students from outside the Faculty of Science are not eligible for this award (some examples: B.Sc. Agr. & Env. Sc., B.Sc. Kinesiology, B.Sc. Rehabilitation Science). 
    • B.Sc. MED-P and B.Sc. DENT-P students are also not eligible.
  • Be registered at McGill (either Canadian and international students);
  • Not concurrently hold an NSERC USRA, Arts ARIA, or similar award;
  • Agree to provide thank you letters to the relevant donors, if they are accepted for a SURA, following Faculty of Science guidelines and timelines.
  • For the 'Pan-McGill' SURAs and Social Equity SURAs, there are also additional guidelines and requirements below.

Supervisor eligibility: 'Regular' SURAs

Supervisors must:

  • Be Faculty of Science professors, or Microbiology & Immunology professors. (See list of eligible units below, in the "How to apply" section.)
  • Be able to provide a minimum top-up contribution of $2800 per SURA recipient. (New in 2017: The professor does not need to hold a specific kind of research grant.)
  • For the 'Pan-McGill' SURAs and Social Equity SURAs, there are also additional guidelines and requirements below.

Supervisor and student eligibility: Pan-McGill SURAs, for research in other McGill academic units

Special funding allows the Faculty of Science to offer a very limited number of SURAs to Faculty of Science students (B.Sc., B.A. & Sc.) with McGill professors from outside the Faculty of Science.

Supervisors must:

  • Be McGill professors, but neither from the Faculty of Science nor Microbiology & Immunology professors (in those cases, please apply instead for the 'regular' SURAs);
  • Conduct research in the field of science;
  • Be able to provide a minimum top-up contribution of $2800 per SURA recipient from McGill funds. (New in 2017: The professor does not need to hold a specific kind of research grant.)

For students:

  • You must meet all the regular SURA student eligibility requirements described above;
  • Pan-McGill SURAs are unusually competitive, given the small number of available awards, therefore: 
  • It is recommended that applicants have a minimum CGPA of 3.60, and
  • Preference may be given to students who are in U2 and U3 at the time of application, over students in U0 and U1.

NEW! Social Equity SURAs, for research in Social Equity, Diversity and Social Justice research

Two undergraduate Science students from any discipline will receive a Social Equity Science Undergraduate Research Award from SEDE (Social Equity and Diversity Education Office) and the Faculty of Science to conduct a 16-week full-time social equity research project during summer 2017 – one under the supervision of a Psychology professor, the other with a Geography professor. Additionally, three undergraduate Arts students will receive Social Equity ARIAs from SEDE and the Faculty of Arts to conduct an 11-week social equity project during summer 2017.

This initiative aims to provide research opportunities for undergraduate students to conduct research pertaining to equity, diversity, and social justice (see definition below), full-time, during summer. It also aims to connect the social equity research community at McGill through a yearly day-long symposium, which could also stimulate reflection, discussion, and partnership, on key issues pertaining to equity and diversity.

Social Equity ARIAs and Social Equity SURAs are offered in addition to “regular” ARIAs and SURAs. Of course, students and supervisors may pursue social equity projects, or other research projects, through the “regular” awards too.

Social Equity SURA eligibility is the same as for "regular" SURAs, except for the following differences or additional requirements:

  • For the inaugural launch of Social Equity SURAs in 2017, supervisors are not required to contribute a financial top-up (normally $2800); these awards are funded by SEDE ($2800) and the Faculty of Science or its donors ($2800). The minimum value is $5600, as for other SURAs.
  • Supervisors must demonstrate the proposed project's connection with social justice, equity, or diversity (on their SURA application form).
  • Students must plan to return to the Faculty of Arts or to the Faculty of Science for undergraduate studies in Fall 2017.
  • Students must demonstrate a commitment to an equity, a diversity, or a social justice issue (short essay, 250-400 words).
  • Students must attend required SEDE equity training prior to the start of the project.
  • Students must attend the SEDE Community Engagement Day.

Definition of Social Equity, Diversity, and Social Justice research, from SEDE

Social Equity, Diversity, and Social Justice related research notably attempts to:

  • deepen the understanding of the experiences specific to people with diverse backgrounds or identities (e.g. racial, class, ethnic, sexual, gender, or ability diversity), including how these experiences impact marginalization and oppression;
  • examine the barriers that prevent all individuals in society to equally access opportunities to grow, to fulfill their fundamental needs, and to fully contribute to organizations, with the understanding that equal access and opportunity does not mean equal treatment for everyone (e.g. bias, power, status, microaggressions, prejudice, poverty, discrimination, colonialism, slavery, patriarchy, stereotypes, representations in the public sphere or lack thereof); and finally,
  • develop and assess strategies that can contribute to remove the aforementioned barriers, whether in society or in organizations (e.g. interventions to increase awareness, identification of best practices to facilitate equity, development of tools to increase accessibility for people with disabilities).

How to apply; Deadline

The first step is to find a supervisor (a professor) who meets the supervisor eligibility criteria listed above, with whom you want to work, and who will have to submit a project proposal for you. (For SURAs in Physics, please see the note below.) To help find a supervisor, see the webpages for Science departments and schools; then, you can browse each unit's staff listing to find professors' research websites. For the Pan-McGill SURAs in other academic units, you can start at the webpage listing McGill faculties, identify the academic units that interest you, and then click through to academic directory / staff listing pages.

You and your supervisor should apply using the forms given in the next section.

If you have already applied for an NSERC USRA, please see below.

Where to apply depends on the unit (school or department) of the student's proposed supervisor. Each unit has its own selection process. Here are contacts and deadlines:

  Supervisor's Department or School Contact person Deadline
'Regular' SURAs and Social Equity SURAs Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences paula.domingues [at] mcgill.ca (Paula Domingues) Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Biology susan.gabe [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Susan Gabe) Friday, March 10, 2017
Chemistry samuel.sewall [at] mcgill.ca (Dr. Samuel Sewall) Friday, March 10, 2017
(Submit applications to Dr. Sewall's mailbox in Chemistry Main Office, Otto Maass Building, Room 322)
Computer Science ann.jack [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Ann Jack) Friday, March 10, 2017
Earth and Planetary Sciences mariel.edwards-carreau [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Mariel Edwards-Carreau) Thursday, March 9, 2017
Geography undergrad.geog [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. June Connolly) Friday, March 10, 2017
Mathematics and Statistics angela.white [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Angela White) Friday, February 24, 2017
Microbiology and Immunology jennifer.dimassimo [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Jennifer DiMassimo) Friday, February 24, 2017
(The normal deadline for MIMM will be the last Friday in February each year)
Office for Science and Society joe.schwarcz [at] mcgill.ca (Dr. Joe Schwarcz) TBC
Physics Prof. Walter Reisner Friday, February 24, 2017
(Before you apply, please read these application instructions specific to Physics)
Psychology julia.marussi [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Julia Marussi) Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 12:00 noon
Redpath Museum: Apply through Biology susan.gabe [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Susan Gabe) Friday, March 10, 2017
Pan-McGill SURAs Other McGill units victor.chisholm [at] mcgill.ca (Mr. Victor Chisholm) Friday, March 10, 2017, 12:00 noon, Dawson Hall, 408-A.

Application forms (for students and supervisors)

For NSERC USRA applicants

Have you already applied for an NSERC USRA? Would you like to be considered for a SURA?

For a regular SURA: Ask the department where you are applying whether you need to complete the SURA forms now, or later. Some departments may consider your NSERC USRA dossier for the SURA competition (but will ask you and your supervisor to complete the SURA forms later). Others require you to submit the SURA forms to be considered. (Ultimately, you cannot receive a SURA if you do not submit the SURA forms. The question is whether they will 'recycle' your NSERC USRA dossier for initial evaluation.)

For a Pan-McGill SURA with a supervisor outside both the Faculty of Science and Microbiology & Immunology: Please complete and submit the SURA forms. The Office for Undergraduate Research in Science manages the Pan-McGill SURA but does not have access to your NSERC USRA forms.

Related programs and additional opportunities

More information

Please contact the department where you wish to hold the awards; you can find the departmental contacts above, in the "How to apply; Deadline" section. For general questions you may also contact victor.chisholm [at] mcgill.ca (Victor Chisholm), Undergraduate Research Officer, Tel.: 514-398-5964.