Questions about eligibility or applying?

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NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award

This page contains information for Summer 2021. Major changes for this year:

  • The value of this award has increased.
  • Every application must include a scenario for a remotely-supervised project that the student can start and finish remotely.
  • Applications will be submitted electronically (PDF).

Please check this webpage periodically for possible updates.

This page is for NSERC USRAs with Professors from the Faculty of Science. If your proposed supervisor is from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, or another McGill Faculty, please start here instead. If you are interested in an NSERC USRA with a professor at another Canadian university, start at that university's website instead.


The NSERC logo.The NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) in Universities program is meant to nurture your interest and fully develop your potential for a research career in the natural sciences and engineering. USRAs are also meant to encourage you to undertake graduate studies in these fields. It is an opportunity to gain research experience in an academic setting, while receiving financial support. Recipients engage in a research and development activity in the area of natural sciences or engineering, under the supervision of a McGill Faculty of Science professor.

The Faculty of Science invites applications from all eligible candidates, and especially those who are members of underrepresented groups, including Women, Persons with Disabilities, Indigenous People, Racialized people/Visible Minorities, and LGBTT2SQ* People (sexual orientation and/or gender identity minorities).

  1. Students and Professors: Review student & supervisor eligibility, deadlines, contact persons, and other details on this webpage as well as on the NSERC website.

    Student eligibility

    • You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.
    • You must be registered, at the time you apply, in a bachelor's degree program.
    • To hold an award, you must have been registered in a Bachelor’s degree in at least one of the 2 terms immediately previous to the award.
    • You may hold a maximum of three USRAs throughout your university career.
    • Individual departments may set higher requirements than NSERC's minimum requirements, and this award application process is competitive.
    • Students from other universities may also apply.
    • First year students are eligible to apply (provided they meet all other requirements). At the time you apply (typically February), you must provide transcripts that show your fall grades and winter registration. To hold the award, first year students must provide transcripts (in early May) that show successful completion of one year of university study (minimum 24 credits) .
    • You cannot concurrently hold a SURA, Arts ARIA, Schull Yang International Experience Award, McGill International Experience Award, or similar award.
    • There are other requirements too: please consult the USRA information on NSERC's website.

    Summer courses

    For all projects: Whether the project is remote or ‘in-person’, students are expected to pursue their projects on a full-time basis, for 16 weeks.

    NSERC allows students to take a maximum of one course (4 credits) during the USRA period, but permission cannot be presumed. This requires a written plan that estimates lost time and a strategy to make it up; and approval from the Supervisor, Department/School, and Faculty. (The Faculty of Science expects the same for SURA.) Additional flexibility may apply in exceptional cases, such as required courses that are only offered in the summer.

    Why should you apply? Are you unsure if your application will be competitive?

    Each summer, dozens of students receive funding for a full-time research project through this program. Students develop new skills, learn a lot about how science works, get a better sense of whether they want to pursue research at the graduate level, meet new friends and mentors... and receive financial support. Many undergraduates say that their summer research award allowed them to understand their courses better, changed their academic and professional direction, or was the best part of their undergraduate degree.

    Applying for the award does not guarantee that you will receive it. The only guarantee is that if you do not apply for an award, you will not receive it. However, even if your application seems unsuccessful, many good things can still happen!

    • First, read the eligibility information on this page, for both you (student) and your supervisor. Consult your supervisor's department if you have questions about eligibility; refer to "Departmental contacts, deadlines, how to submit" further below.
    • A department may be able to give you information such as the number of applicants and awards last year, or the average or minimum CGPA; however applicant pools and the number of awards vary from year to year. A comparable dossier may be uncompetitive one year, but successful the next. If you are clearly ineligible, that is one thing; but if you are unsure how competitive you might be, consider applying.
    • If your award application is unsuccessful, sometimes supervisors can provide other sources of funding, or find other ways to involve you in research, for the summer itself.
    • An unsuccessful summer award application may open other doors later: a research course for credit next fall, or a successful award application next summer, for example.
    • Please also consult "Other sources of funding" below.

    Value and duration

    • When: The Faculty of Science offers NSERC USRAs in the Summer term (May through August).
    • Duration: 16 consecutive weeks on a full-time basis.
    • Value in 2021:
      • $6000 from NSERC (was $4500 in 2020)
      • $1500 minimum from the supervisor (professor) (was $1125 in 2020)
      • $7500 minimum total
    • Supplements (not guaranteed)

    Other sources of funding

    If you are not eligible for an NSERC USRA, or if you apply but do not receive the award, here are a few suggestions. Deadlines vary.

    • Other similar summer undergraduate research awards:
      • Science Undergraduate Research Awards (SURA) are for McGill Faculty of Science students with McGill Faculty of Science professors; however, there are neither restrictions for citizenship (international students may also apply) nor restrictions on the supervisor's grant type.
      • SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering: for research with McGill Engineering professors)
      • ARIA (Arts Undergraduate Research Internship Awards: for McGill B.A. and B.A. & Sc. students)
    • NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE): undergraduate studentships are available through some of the CREATE training programs. Find out more about the program in general and then search for existing CREATE programs at McGill or across Canada.
    • NSERC Indigenous Student Ambassadors (NISA)
    • McGill Work-Study Program (for students with demonstrated financial need)
    • Schull Yang International Experience Awards (for research abroad)
    • SUS 21st Century Ambassador Fund (SCAF) (to attend or host academic conferences or competitions)
    • Funding from your supervisor (professor)
    • Departmental funding or awards (where applicable)
    • External funding
      • Funding from your country (if you are a citizen or resident of a country other than Canada; e.g., NSF REU).
      • Other Canadian and international programs: MITACS Globalink (various countries), DAAD RISE (Germany), etc.
      • Some foundations (cancer, liver, wildlife, etc.) or scholarly associations (physiology, etc.) have summer studentship programs. Brainstorm with your supervisor or lab members to determine which associations might be relevant, then check if they have funding for which you are eligible.

  2. Students: Find a supervisor. Your supervisor must be willing to provide the minimum financial contribution described in "Value and Duration" above.

    Where and with whom to apply

    • To submit a complete application, you need to identify an eligible professor (see below) to serve as your proposed supervisor and to submit a project proposal for you. If you start at the webpages for Science departments, you can browse each unit's site to find professors' research websites. Here is some advice.
    • For Physics projects/professors, also consult this page.
    • Apply through your proposed supervisor's school or department, not necessarily your own.
    • Each Faculty of Science unit has a quota of available awards, and has its own selection process and deadlines.
    • You will find the departmental contacts and deadlines further below.

    Which professors are eligible to supervise students for an NSERC USRA?

    • In the Faculty of Science, the proposed supervisor must be a professor who has held, currently holds, or has applied for an eligible NSERC grant. The supervisor may be the principal investigator or the co-investigator of the grant.
    • In general: NSERC expects the research supervisor to be physically present for the majority of the period of the award. It is acceptable for the research supervisor to delegate supervision for short periods to other faculty members, experienced technicians, postdoctoral fellows, or doctoral students. It is not acceptable for the research supervisor to be present only through virtual, online or telecommunications means. However: Because of the uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, in Summer 2021, NSERC will allow remote supervision of USRA students.

    Does it matter if my proposed supervisor is an Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Full Professor, jointly appointed, Associate Member, or Adjunct Professor? What do these terms mean?

    Please note that the following is specific to NSERC USRAs in Faculty of Science departments. Professor eligibility for SURAs is different.

    Title Explanation or definition Relevance for your NSERC USRA application
    Assistant Professor Professors typically start their academic career as Assistant Professor. It does not matter whether your proposed supervisor is an Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or (Full) Professor, as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements. What does matter: Ask your professor the department(s) in which he or she is appointed. Check that at least one of the professor's departments is on the list under "Departments, contacts and deadlines" and check if her or his name is on the list.
    Associate Professor Associate Professor is a promotion from Assistant Professor.
    Professor (or Full Professor) (Full) Professor is a promotion from Associate Professor.
    Joint appointments Some McGill professors (whether assistant, associate or full) hold an academic appointment of substantial weight in more than one academic unit. As above, check that at least one of the professor's departments is on the list under "Departments, contacts and deadlines" and check if her or his name is on the list. Especially for Associate Members, ask the contact for that department if they expect you to apply through the supervisor's other department.
    Associate Member status Some McGill professors hold an affiliation with a secondary unit, where a joint appointment is not appropriate.
    Adjunct Professor The individual is primarily employed outside McGill - for example, by government, in industry, as a professional, or at another university or institution - but participates in the academic activities of the McGill unit where he or she is appointed as Adjunct Professor. Typically not eligible to apply through McGill, since NSERC requires you to apply for a USRA through the supervisor's primary institution. (Example: your supervisor holds her or his main appointment at Université de Montréal, but has an additional appointment at McGill as an adjunct professor. In this case, apply for an NSERC USRA through the Université de Montréal, not through McGill.) If you are uncertain, ask the departmental contact, who can check with the Faculty of Science.

    What if my proposed supervisor is not on these lists?

    • Please ask if she/he holds an NSERC research grant, previously held an NSERC grant, or is currently applying for an NSERC grant. Please share this information with your supervisor's department's contact person (refer to the "Departments, contacts, where to submit, and deadlines" section below) so they can contact the Faculty of Science to verify the supervisor's eligibility.
    • Your proposed supervisor might still be eligible. There are several possible reasons he or she might not show up here, which include the following:
      • This list does not include professors from outside the McGill Faculty of Science. (In this case, apply through the other Faculty according to their deadlines.)
      • Some professors have appointments in multiple departments (or faculties), but are only listed in one department below.
      • Professors who are currently applying for an NSERC grant, or held a grant in the past, but do not currently hold a grant, might not appear here.
      • The list below is preliminary, not final. It represents a slice in time, and may not have the most recent information.

    Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences: some eligible supervisors

    If a professor is not listed here, she/he may still be eligible; please refer to "What if my proposed supervisor is not on these lists?" above.

    1. Dufour, Carolina
    2. Fabry, Frederic
    3. Gyakum, John
    4. Huang, Yi
    5. Kirshbaum, Daniel
    6. Merlis, Timothy
    7. Preston, Thomas
    8. Romanic, Djorde
    9. Straub, David
    10. Tan, Ivy
    11. Tremblay, Bruno
    12. Yau, Man K
    13. Zuend, Andreas

    Note: Prof. Peter Bartello (whose grant is listed under Mathematics & Statistics) and Prof. Parisa Ariya (whose grant is listed under Chemistry) are also eligible.

    Biology: some eligible supervisors

    If a professor is not listed here, she/he may still be eligible; please refer to "What if my proposed supervisor is not on these lists?" above.

    See also the Redpath Museum below. Several researchers are jointly appointed in Biology and the Redpath Museum, but are only listed in one place.

    1. Abouheif, Ehab
    2. Bell, Graham
    3. Brouhard, Gary
    4. Bureau, Thomas
    5. Chapman, Lauren J.
    6. Cristescu, Melania
    7. Dent, Joseph
    8. Fussmann, Gregor
    9. Gerhold, Abigail
    10. Gonzalez, Andrew
    11. Gregory-Eaves, Irene
    12. Guichard, Frederic
    13. Guigueno, Mélanie
    14. Hargreaves, Anna
    15. Harrison, Paul
    16. Hayer, Arnold
    17. Hendricks, Michael
    18. Lasko, Paul
    19. Leung, Brian
    20. Moon, Nam Sung
    21. Nilson, Laura
    22. Oyama, Tomoko
    23. Pollock, Laura
    24. Potvin, Catherine
    25. Price, Neil
    26. Reader, Simon
    27. Reyes Lamothe, Rodrigo
    28. Roy, Richard
    29. Sakata, Jon
    30. Schöck, Frieder
    31. Schoen, Daniel
    32. Soper, Fiona
    33. Sunday, Jennifer
    34. Vogel, Jackie
    35. Watt, Alanna J.
    36. Weber, Stephanie C.
    37. Western, Tamara
    38. Woolley, Sarah
    39. Zetka, Monique
    40. Zheng, Hugo

    Chemistry: some eligible supervisors

    If a professor is not listed here, she/he may still be eligible; please refer to "What if my proposed supervisor is not on these lists?" above.

    1. Andrews, Mark
    2. Ariya, Parisa
    3. Arndtsen, Bruce
    4. Auclair, Karine
    5. Barrett, Christopher
    6. Blum, Amy
    7. Bohle, Scott
    8. Cosa, Gonzalo
    9. Damha, Masad
    10. Friscic, Tomislav
    11. Gleason, James
    12. Harrington, Matthew
    13. Kakkar, Ashok
    14. Kambhampati, Patanjali
    15. Khaliullin, Rustam
    16. Lennox, Bruce
    17. Li, C.J.
    18. Luedtke, Nathan
    19. Lumb, Jean-Philip
    20. Mauzeroll, Janine
    21. McCalla, Eric
    22. McKeague, Maureen
    23. Mittermaier, Anthony
    24. Moitessier, Nicolas
    25. Moores, Audrey
    26. Perepichka, Dima
    27. Reven, Linda
    28. Simine, Yelena
    29. Siwick, Bradley
    30. Sleiman, Hanadi
    31. Thibodeaux, Christopher
    32. Tsantrizos, Youla
    33. Van de Ven, Theo
    34. Wiseman, Paul

    Computer Science: some eligible supervisors

    If a professor is not listed here, she/he may still be eligible; please refer to "What if my proposed supervisor is not on these lists?" above.

    1. Blanchette, Mathieu
    2. Chang, Xiao-Wen
    3. Cheung, Jackie
    4. Crepeau, Claude
    5. Devroye, Luc
    6. Dubach, Christophe
    7. Dudek, Gregory
    8. Guo, Jin
    9. Hamilton, William
    10. Hatami, Hamed
    11. Kemme, Bettina
    12. Kienzle, Jörg
    13. Kry, Paul
    14. Langer, Michael
    15. Li, Yue
    16. Liu, Xue
    17. Liu, Hsiu-Chin
    18. Maheswaran, Muthucumaru
    19. Meger, David
    20. Panangaden, Prakash
    21. Pientka, Brigitte
    22. Pineau, Joelle
    23. Precup, Doina
    24. Rabbany, Reihaneh
    25. Ravanbakhsh, Mohsen
    26. Reddy, Siva
    27. Reed, Bruce
    28. Richards, Blake
    29. Robillard, Martin
    30. Ruths, Derek
    31. Siddiqi, Kaleem
    32. Verbrugge, Clark
    33. Waldispuhl, Jérôme

    Note: Prof. Adrian Vetta (whose grant is listed under Mathematics & Statistics) is also eligible.

    Earth and Planetary Sciences: some eligible supervisors

    If a professor is not listed here, she/he may still be eligible; please refer to "What if my proposed supervisor is not on these lists?" above.

    1. Baker, Don
    2. Berlo, Kim
    3. Douglas, Peter
    4. Galbraith, Eric
    5. Gomez, Natalya
    6. Halverson, Galen Pippa
    7. Kirkpatrick, James
    8. Liu, Yajing
    9. Mahmoudi, Nagissa
    10. McKenzie, Jeffrey
    11. Rowe, Christen
    12. Stix, John
    13. van Hinsberg, Vincent
    14. Williams-Jones, Anthony

    Note: Prof. Nicolas Cowan (whose grant is listed under Physics) is also eligible.

    Geography: some eligible supervisors

    If a professor is not listed here, she/he may still be eligible; please refer to "What if my proposed supervisor is not on these lists?" above.

    1. Chmura, Gail
    2. Kalacska, Margaret
    3. Lehner, Bernhard
    4. MacDonald, Graham
    5. Manaugh, Kevin
    6. McKenzie, Grant
    7. Moore, Timothy
    8. Robinson, Brian
    9. Ross, Nancy
    10. Roulet, Nigel
    11. Strachan, Ian
    12. von Sperber, Christian

    Mathematics and Statistics: some eligible supervisors

    If a professor is not listed here, she/he may still be eligible; please refer to "What if my proposed supervisor is not on these lists?" above.

    1. Addario-Berry, Louigi
    2. Allen, Patrick
    3. Asgharian-Dastenaei, Masoud
    4. Bartello, Peter
    5. Chen, Linan
    6. Choksi, Rustum
    7. Darmon, Henri
    8. Genest, Christian
    9. Goren, Eyal
    10. Guan, Pengfei
    11. Harrison, Sarah
    12. Hoheisel, Tim
    13. Humphries, Tony
    14. Hurtubise, Jacques
    15. Jakobson, Dmitry
    16. Jaksic, Vojkan
    17. Kamran, Niky
    18. Khalili, Abbas
    19. Lessard, Jean-Philippe
    20. Lin, Jessica
    21. Lipnowski, Michael
    22. Nave, Jean-Christophe
    23. Neslehova, Johanna
    24. Norin, Sergey
    25. Oberman, Adam
    26. Paquette, Courtney
    27. Paquette, Elliot
    28. Pichot, Mikael
    29. Przytycki, Piotr
    30. Pym, Brent
    31. Sabok, Marcin
    32. Steele, Russell
    33. Stephens, David
    34. Tosatti, Valentino
    35. Toth, John
    36. Tserunyan, Anush
    37. Tsogtgerel, Gantumur
    38. Vétois, Jérôme
    39. Vetta, Adrian
    40. Wise, Daniel T.
    41. Yang, Yi

    Physics: some eligible supervisors

    McGill Physics runs a different process to match students and professors. Please read this page before applying.

    If a professor is not listed here, she/he may still be eligible; please refer to "What if my proposed supervisor is not on these lists?" above.

    1. Agarwal, Kartiek
    2. Brandenberger, Robert
    3. Brunner, Thomas
    4. Caron-Huot, Simon
    5. Chiang, Cynthia
    6. Childress, Lilian
    7. Cline, Jim
    8. Coish, Bill
    9. Cooke, David
    10. Corriveau, François
    11. Cowan, Nicolas
    12. Cumming, Andrew
    13. Dasgupta, Keshav
    14. Dobbs, Matt
    15. François, Paul
    16. Gale, Charles
    17. Gervais, Guillaume
    18. Grant, Martin
    19. Grutter, Peter
    20. Guo, Hong
    21. Haggard, Daryl
    22. Hanna, David
    23. Hilke, Michael
    24. Jeon, Sang Yong
    25. Kaspi, Victoria
    26. Lee, Eve
    27. Leslie, Sabrina
    28. Liu, Adrian
    29. Lovejoy, Shaun
    30. Maloney, Alexander
    31. Pereg-Barnea, Tami
    32. Provatas, Nikolas
    33. Ragan, Kenneth
    34. Reisner, Walter
    35. Robertson, Steven
    36. Ryan, Dominic
    37. Sankey (Childress), Jack
    38. Sievers, Jonathan
    39. Vachon, Brigitte
    40. Warburton, Andreas Thomas
    41. Webb, Tracy

    Note: The following professors are also eligible, but their grants are listed under other departments:

    • Harrison, Sarah (Mathematics & Statistics)
    • Siwick, Bradley (Chemistry)
    • Wiseman, Paul (Chemistry)

    Psychology: some eligible supervisors

    If a professor is not listed here, she/he may still be eligible; please refer to "What if my proposed supervisor is not on these lists?" above.

    1. Bagot, Rosemary C
    2. Bartz, Jennifer
    3. Britt, Jonathan Phillip
    4. Falk, Carl F
    5. Hardt, Oliver
    6. Hwang, Heungsun
    7. Johns, Brendan
    8. Mogil, Jeffrey S.
    9. Nader, Karim
    10. Onishi, Kristine
    11. Ostry, David J
    12. Otto, Ross
    13. Palmer, Caroline
    14. Petrides, Michael
    15. Ristic, Jelena
    16. Roy, Mathieu
    17. Sheldon, Signy
    18. Shultz, Thomas R.
    19. Titone, Debra
    20. Weinberg, Anna

    Redpath Museum: some eligible supervisors

    If a professor is not listed here, she/he may still be eligible; please refer to "What if my proposed supervisor is not on these lists?" above.

    See also the Department of Biology above. Several researchers are jointly appointed in Biology and the Redpath Museum, but are only listed in one place.

    1. Barrett, Rowan
    2. Green, David
    3. Hendry, Andrew
    4. Larsson, Hans
    5. Millien, Virginie
    6. Ricciardi, Anthony

    Anatomy and Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Physiology

    These departments are part of the Faculty of Medicine. Please refer to the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science's webpage for NSERC USRA.

    Other academic units

    Please refer to the McGill-wide NSERC USRA webpage.


  3. Students: Complete your application forms. These require official transcripts from all universities you've attended. Give a copy of your NSERC application form to your supervisor so she or he has your NSERC reference number.

    Questions about eligibility, forms, etc.?

    Clarify these questions before you apply or as soon as an issue arises. Generally this means to consult the supervisor's department. You will find departmental contacts further below. Departmental staff will consult the Faculty of Science if or when needed.

    Forms for students, including transcripts

    • Consult and complete this Checklist
    • NSERC Form 202, part 1: This is the main form you must complete.
      • Consult NSERC’s Application Instructions
      • Complete Form 202, part 1 using NSERC's online system.
      • The form requires your transcripts:
        • NSERC will accept McGill's new e-Transcript, even if the transcript legend does not appear.
        • NSERC may require that updated or official, original documents be provided after the completed application has been submitted to NSERC. If you order official copies on paper, hold onto them.
        • You must upload one document (PDF) containing a scan of official transcripts of all universities you attended.
          • This includes separate official transcripts from each university you may have attended; for example, prior to McGill, on exchange, in the summer, etc.
          • If you have difficulty combining multiple transcripts, you may want to request paper copies of all official transcripts (instead of e-transcripts), and then physically scan them all yourself into one PDF.
          • NSERC prefers black and white scans.
      • You must submit your complete form (Form 202, part 1) before your professor can do his or her part. Your professor will need your (last) name and your NSERC reference number.
      • Your application is not yet complete. Your supervisor must complete NSERC Form 202, part 2 (with your project proposal) and you must submit PDFs of your documents to your supervisor's department (details below).

  4. Students and Supervisors (Professors): Familiarise yourself with these VERY IMPORTANT expectations, definitions, and requirements for ‘in-person’ projects and remotely supervised projects.

    Expectations and requirements for ‘in-person’ projects and remotely supervised projects

    The Faculty of Science invites supervisors to consider safety, feasibility, adaptability, equity, and quality of training when planning projects for Summer 2021, whether these projects are fully remotely supervised or involve ‘in-person’ components.

    We expect that many ‘in-person’ activities will be possible. We also expect all parties to prepare for a remotely supervised scenario.

    Supervisors must disclose any ‘in-person’ expectations to students at the time of application. This includes in-person meetings. Students and supervisors should discuss expectations and constraints before applying and before accepting awards.

    For wholly remotely-supervised projects, students and supervisors must be respectful of time zone differences, but students can be required to participate virtually/electronically in meetings or activities at specified times.

    Projects that are wholly remotely supervised

    For Summer 2021, projects that are wholly remotely supervised are permitted. A remote project may be either the sole project or the backup project. Remote projects may be the best or only option for students who are not in or cannot come to Montreal, or if COVID restrictions tighten.

    Projects with an ‘in-person’ component (including meetings)

    For summer 2021, projects with an ‘in-person’ component are permitted, but the project proposal must identify the ‘in-person’ components (even in-person meetings), and must also describe an alternative that the student could complete wholly remotely.

    Projects with an ‘in-person’ component may best support the scientific development of students who are in or able to come to Montreal, provided the projects seem feasible and permissible at the time of application, and become or remain so.

    The Faculty of Science encourages flexibility on the part of both students and supervisors. However, students might not be able to, and therefore, cannot be required to switch to an ‘in-person’ activity that was not disclosed on the application. Furthermore, plans to switch from remote to ‘in-person’ must treat students fairly. For example, if “Plan A” is for a remote project, and “Plan B” includes fieldwork, but travel restrictions prevent the student from going to the field, the student must not face a financial penalty, and should be allowed to continue with the remote project.

    Safe and permitted ‘in-person’ activities are encouraged, but must be disclosed upfront.

    Definition of ‘in-person’

    Definition of ‘in-person’: any project that requires the student to be in a specific location; anything other than remote projects that students can pursue wherever they happen to be.

    Some examples: in a lab; in a specific field location; in-person meetings; any project that involves human contact; any project that requires the student to travel anywhere.

    ‘In-person’ is not limited to lab, field, or clinical research; in-person meetings constitute an ‘in-person’ component.

    Recommended format to write project proposals

    For clarity to supervisors, students, and selection committees, we encourage supervisors to use one of the following formats to write project proposals:

    Scenario Plan A (Default) Plan B (Backup) Please note

    Wholly remote project

    Project proposal, PLUS:
    “This project can be pursued and supervised wholly remotely.”

    PLAN B NOT NECESSARY.

    The NSERC form now includes 3 sections for the project proposal:
    Outline of proposed research project may be the best place for Plan A and/or Plan B.
    Outline of the student's role and Expected quality of the training to be received are the other two sections.

    Plan A = Remote;
    Plan B = ‘In-person’

    Remote project proposal, PLUS:

    “The preceding project can be pursued and supervised wholly remotely. However, if circumstances permit, we plan to…”
    PLUS
    Description of ALL ’in-person’ activities

    Plan A = ‘In-person’
    Plan B = Remote

    Project proposal, including a clear description of ALL ‘in-person’ activities (definition above), PLUS:

    “If circumstances require a remote project, we plan to…”
    PLUS
    Description of remotely pursued and wholly remotely supervised project


  5. Professors: Complete the supervisor's application form (Form 202, Part 2).
    VERY IMPORTANT: Read the information immediately below (for professors) and immediately above (for both professors and students).

    Information for supervisors (professors) when completing NSERC forms

    It is the responsibility of researchers and their departments to ensure that application forms include all information required by both NSERC and the Faculty of Science.

    The link to the required NSERC form is found below, but first, please read the following tips and "gotchas".

    • The project description now involves three separate fields:
      1. Outline of proposed research project: (i) This is the longest of the three fields, it may be the best place to describe Plan A / Plan B; above, you can find the Faculty of Science's Expectations and requirements for in-person and/or remote projects. (ii) Describe the student's research project, not necessarily your larger research program.
      2. Outline of the student's role: Consider starting with "The student will..."
      3. Expected quality of the training to be received: You may wish to describe the outcomes, goals, or benefits the student may attain. Please also confirm that supervision will be (primarily) by the named supervisor, not (solely/predominantly) by a postdoc, lab tech, other senior lab member, etc.
    • $5000 question: The research subject code is a required field and is also a key part in identifying eligible candidates for the Canadian Forest Sector Workforce Diversity undergraduate supplements (worth an additional $5000).
    • Submitting the form  takes two steps, without which we cannot send dossiers to NSERC:
      1. Click on the Portfolio page and select Verify to ensure that all the required information has been entered. Once the verification is completed, the status of the application will be changed to "Completed," which really means "Not yet submitted" because...
      2. You must then select Submit to LO ("liaison officer"). This will lock both your form and the student's form against further updates.
    • Post-submission revisions? After you "Submit to LO", If either you or your student need to update any information, and you find that the form is protected, contact your departmental contact (or Victor Chisholm) to unlock the form.
    • Give the student a PDF of Form 202 Part 2, so she or he can provide a complete application to your department office. If your department asks for it directly from you, the Faculty of Science still expects that you and the student have discussed project expectations.

    NSERC form and support:

    Other:

    • The NSERC USRA travel allowance was eliminated in 2020. This was previously available to students whose home university is neither McGill nor another Montreal-area university.
    • NSERC has increased the supervisor's minimum contribution in 2021 to $1500 minimum.

  6. Students: Submit your complete application, in the specified format, to the appropriate department, before the relevant deadline.

    How to name your files / electronic application documents

    Name each PDF according to the following format:
    StudentLastName-StudentFirstName-USRA-DocumentType-ProfNameOptional-yyyy-mmm-dd.PDF
    ...where YYY-MMM-DD is the date you prepared this document, italic text (mixed case) represents variables, and roman text (all-capitals) represents constants.

    For supervisors from: Sample file name: Description:
    Atmos. & Ocean. Sci. (if possible), Geography (requested), Mathematics & Statistics (if possible):
    Please combine all application documents for each student into one PDF.
    Doe-Jane-USRA-Complete-ProfMacdonald-2021-Feb-05.pdf Complete USRA application (if supervisor's department requests one PDF containing all documents) for student Jane Doe with Professor Macdonald, prepared on February 5
    All other eligible departments that are not listed above:
    You may submit each application document as a separate PDF.
    Doe-Jane-USRA-Form1-2021-Feb-05.pdf Only NSERC USRA Form 202 Part 1, for student Jane Doe, prepared on February 5. Note that this should include the transcripts which you have uploaded to NSERC.
    Doe-Jane-USRA-Form2-ProfMacdonald-2021-Feb-06.pdf Only NSERC USRA Form 202 Part 2, for student Jane Doe, supervisor Professor Macdonald, prepared on February 6
    Doe-Jane-USRA-Form1-2021-Feb-12.pdf Updated version of Form 1 (including transcripts as uploaded to NSERC), dated February 12. Avoid submitting multiple versions of a document; but if necessary, for example if a grade changes, the date in the filename will help your department track which is the most recent version.
    Doe-Jane-USRA-Statement-2021-Feb-05.pdf A supporting statement is not a normal requirement in most departments; however, if student Jane Doe chooses to provide one, or if her department requests a statement from all applicants, this would be the naming format to use. Change "statement" in the filename if this is for some other kind of document.

    Departments, contacts, deadlines, how to submit

    Students apply through the department of the proposed supervisor. Deadlines vary by department. The "contact person" listed in each department is both for questions, and to whom you should submit your completed application, unless noted otherwise.

    You must provide your application (PDF) to a McGill department. Simply submitting the electronic forms on the NSERC portal is insufficient, because the staff in McGill departments who select the awardees do not have access to the NSERC system.

    Supervisor's department Contact person Deadline Additional application documents required: Standard application documents required:
    Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Ms. Manuela Franzo via graduateinfo.aos [at] mcgill.ca (graduateinfo.aos@m...) Tuesday, March 2, 2021, 1:00 pm no McGill checklist,
    NSERC USRA Form 202 Part 1,
    Official transcripts (already uploaded to Form 202 Part 1),
    NSERC USRA Form 202 Part 2.
    Refer to "How to name your files" above.
    Biology
    (NB: 2 contacts!)
    BOTH susan.gabe [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Susan Gabe) AND nancy.nelson [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Nancy Nelson) February 26, 2021 no
    Chemistry Dr. Samuel Sewall via advisor.chemistry [at] mcgill.ca (advisor.chemistry@m...) February 19, 2021 Optional: C.V. and/or personal statement
    Computer Science adina.puica [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Adina Puica) February 26, 2021 no
    Earth and Planetary Sciences kristy.thornton [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Kristy Thornton) February 26, 2021 no
    Geography Ms. June Connolly via undergrad.geog [at] mcgill.ca (undergrad.geog@m...) February 26, 2021 TBC
    Mathematics and Statistics angela.white [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Angela White) February 26, 2021 no
    Physics Prof. Simon Caron-Huot February 26, 2021 Consult these application instructions specific to Physics.
    Psychology Ms. Nina Pinzarrone via admincoord.psych [at] mcgill.ca (admincoord.psych@m...) February 26, 2021 no McGill checklist,
    NSERC USRA Form 202 Part 1,
    Official transcripts (already uploaded to Form 202 Part 1),
    NSERC USRA Form 202 Part 2.
    Refer to "How to name your files" above.
    Redpath Museum
    (NB: 2 contacts!)
    BOTH susan.gabe [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Susan Gabe) AND nancy.nelson [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Nancy Nelson) February 26, 2021
    (Apply through Biology)
    no
    Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences You can find the deadlines for other faculties via the McGill-wide NSERC USRA webpage. Application procedures, deadlines, and other details vary according to the faculty of your proposed supervisor.
    Faculty of Arts [including but not limited to the School of Information Studies]
    Faculty of Dentistry
    Faculty of Education [including but not limited to the Department of Kinesiology & Physical Education]
    Faculty of Engineering
    Faculty of Management
    Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences [including but not limited to the Departments of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology & Immunology, Pharmacology, and Physiology]
    Faculty of Music

  7. Watch your (McGill) email for results. Most offers will be made to students by mid-March; however some may come later.

    Selection Criteria

    NSERC has stipulated that institutions should select USRA recipients based on the following three criteria (which the Faculty of Science expects for SURA as well):

    • Academic record;
    • Research aptitude;
    • Expected quality of the training to be received.

  8. If you are offered an award: Keep your offer letter, read it carefully, and follow the procedures it describes to accept your award.
  9. The first instalment of your award payment should normally come by late May.

    More about award payments

    If you are offered an award, departmental staff will ask supervisors (professors) to confirm the source of funds for the professor's share of your award. Watch for email messages or requests: they may contact you to sign a form or provide further information.

    Your award payment will be processed in part by your supervisor's department (for the supervisor's portion, minimum $1500), and in part by the Faculty of Science (for the NSERC portion, $6000). The two offices may process these at different times. Therefore, it is normal in April if you do not see your award in MINERVA, or in early May to only see one of the two parts of your award. Your first pay should normally come by mid or late May, by direct deposit to your bank account; if not, ask the contact person in your supervisor's department.

    You will be able to see your award payments in MINERVA > Financial Aid & Awards > My Financial Aid and Awards. Please note that there can be a delay of 2-3 business days between the date you see on MINERVA and when it gets to your bank account.


  10. In May, start your research project.
  11. Watch for an email from NSERC in mid-summer (usually late June or early July). This letter will confirm your award. Keep this letter!
  12. If the FRQNT supplement is offered in 2021 as it has been in recent years, your letter from NSERC will indicate if you are eligible to apply for this supplement. Follow the application instructions and deadlines.

    FRQNT Supplements

    FRQNT Supplements: The Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT) is expected to* offer a $1500 supplement to NSERC USRA holders enrolled at an eligible university in Quebec. *The Faculty of Science does not guarantee this or an equivalent supplement in 2021.

    Students must apply for the FRQNT supplement — this is a separate step from your NSERC USRA application. To receive the FRQNT supplement, the USRA award holder must complete the FRQNT online form after having received his or her NSERC letter indicating that he or she is eligible to the supplement. Students apply directly to the FRQNT (not McGill) and receive the supplements from them. Please refer to the timeline below.

    Students registered at a university outside Quebec (summer "visitors" whose home university is outside Quebec) are not expected to be eligible for the FRQNT supplement.

    Timeline for FRQNT supplements, for NSERC USRAs held in Summer, based on prior years' experience:

    • Do not be misled by a deadline that might not pertain to you! If you find a webpage with an application deadline in April or December, that is likely for NSERC USRAs held in the Fall or Winter term. Make sure you are looking at information about NSERC USRAs in Summer, and check the year!
    • You will not be able to apply for the FRQNT supplement until you receive a letter (by email) from NSERC; this usually happens in July. The letter from NSERC in mid-summer is different from the letter from your department in late winter / early spring.
    • When last checked, the FRQNT application deadline for Summer 2021 has not yet been posted; in past years the FRQNT deadline has been August 31.
    • We expect that the results will be communicated by the FRQNT in the 4 weeks that follow their deadline.
    • Students will receive these supplements directly from the FRQNT, likely in September.

  13. Questions? Clarification of eligibility? Special circumstances? Who is my USRA LO / Liaison Officer?

    For more information

    • Please consult the department where you wish to apply (your proposed supervisor's department).
    • For contacts, please refer to the "Departmental contacts, deadlines, how to submit" section above.
    • Please reach out before you apply, or as soon as the issue arises. Depending on the question, they may have to consult the Faculty of Science, and in some cases McGill will have to consult with NSERC.
    • On the NSERC website, you may find phrases like "refer to the USRA LO [Liaison Officer] at the institution where you would like to hold the award" for more information. At McGill, for the Faculty of Science, this also means to contact the appropriate individual from the "Departments..." section.
    • Please note that if you or your supervisor are not eligible for an NSERC USRA, you may still be eligible for a Science Undergraduate Research Award (SURA).
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