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How to Get Involved in Research

There are many ways for you to get involved in research at Laurier. We've outlined a few to help you get started.

 

Talk to Professors

Most professors have ongoing research projects that involve students. Take the time to learn about their research programs. Read their websites and consider whether their research interests you. If you would like to explore opportunities to become involved in their research, email the professor directly to set up a meeting. When you contact a professor, be sure to include information about yourself (your skills and experience) and why you are interested in their research.

Network

Reach out to others to learn about research opportunities, such as:

Attend Events

There are countless research events that happen virtually and on campus. Events are often advertised on wlu.ca or departmental homepages or the Laurier events calendar. Most advertised events are open to the public. Keep your eyes open and don’t be shy!

Apply for an Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA)

The departments of Biology, Business, Chemistry and BiochemistryEconomics, Geography and Environmental Studies, Health SciencesKinesiology and Physical Education, Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science and Psychology hold annual competitions to award Undergraduate Student Research Awards from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. 

About

NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) are intended to stimulate students’ interest in research in natural sciences and engineering. They are also meant to encourage undergraduates to continue on to graduate studies and pursue research careers in these fields. These awards assist students in gaining research work experience that complements their studies in an academic setting while receiving financial support.

USRA applications must be submitted by students and a faculty member as supervisor. Students must work with a faculty member in completing the application.

Duration and Value

Typically, students hold the award during the summer semester (May to August) for a period of 14 – 16 weeks as full-time summer job positions. The award may also be held during the fall or winter semester to accommodate co-op students.

NSERC provides $6,000 and faculty supervisors supplement the award to comply with Ontario’s provincial employment standards (minimum wage). Note that for the duration of the award, students will be full-time employees, paid bi-weekly through payroll, in accordance with Canada Revenue Agency requirements.

NSERC USRA for Indigenous and Black Students

NSERC encourages eligible Indigenous and Black Students to apply to the NSERC USRA program. Institutions may recommend applications from Indigenous and Black Students to the NSERC USRA program beyond their NSERC USRA quota. All applications from students of Indigenous and/or Black heritage who meet the eligibility criteria will be put forward to NSERC for funding.

CIHR/SSHRC USRA for Black Students

As part of Budget 2022, the Government of Canada announced 95 CIHR USRAs and 95 SSHRC USRAs exclusively for Black students that will be awarded across Canada.

Laurier is assigned an allocation of CIHR and SSHRC USRAs to offer to Black students. Refer to the Undergraduate Student Research Awards allocations web page for a list of allocations by the institution.

A committee will be established to adjudicate CIHR/SSHRC USRA applications using the same criteria and rubric used for the NSERC USRAs.

All NSERC USRA eligibility criteria apply, except the research project should be within CIHR’s and SSHRC’s subject matter eligibility.

To apply:

Selection Process 

Laurier is assigned an allocation of awards to offer each year. Refer to the Undergraduate Student Research Awards allocations web page for a list of allocations by the institution.

The NSERC USRA applications are adjudicated based on the following three criteria:

  1. academic excellence
  2. research potential
  3. expected quality of the training and mentorship to be received

Detailed USRA Rubric

Eligibility

For additional information on eligibility criteria for students and supervisors please refer to NSERC USRA Program Guide and FAQ for applicants and proposed research supervisors.

To apply for an award, students must:

  • be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada or a Protected Person under subsection 95(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada);
  • be registered, at the time they apply, in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible university; and
  • have obtained, over the previous years of study, a cumulative average of at least second class (a grade of “B-”).

To hold an award, students must:

  • have completed all the course requirements of at least the first year of university study (or two academic terms) of their bachelor's degree;
  • have been registered in at least one of the two terms immediately before holding the award in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible university;
  • not have started a program of graduate studies in the natural sciences or engineering;
  • be employed full-time in eligible research and development activities in the natural sciences or engineering during the tenure of award; and
  • not be enrolled in more than two half-credit courses during the tenure of the USRA.

In addition......

  • If the student already holds a bachelor's degree and is studying toward a second bachelor's degree, they may still apply for this award.
  • The student may hold only one USRA per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
  • The student may hold a maximum of three USRAs throughout their university career.

Supervisors must:

  • be a faculty member who is authorized by the University to independently supervise students;
  • demonstrate a willingness to provide the matching funding and adequate supervision for all students they plan to supervise; and
  • have remote work available for USRA students in the event of a research shutdown to comply with COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions.

How to Apply – NSERC USRA Departmental Competition

To apply, confirm you are eligible to apply for an NSERC USRA in the Student Eligibility section and read the NSERC USRA Guidelines. Then apply directly to your department by the department deadline. 

Your application should include the following documents:

  1. Form 202 - Part I and Part II (Instructions to complete Form 202- Part I and Part II)
    • Download the completed Form 202- Part I and Part II.
  2. Student’s Research Statement – maximum 1 page; follow NSERC Online presentation and attachment standards. The research statement should describe research interests and if applicable, gaps/interruptions to the student’s academic/research career.
  3. USRA Payment Information Form – The supervisor must complete and directly send this to their department.

STEPS to complete Form 202 – Part I

  1. Login to NSERC’s online system – if it is your first time applying you will need to register
  2. On the main page select “Forms – Student”, and in the drop-down menu select “Form 202 – Part I” for the USRA
  3. To complete the required information, please use your mylaurier email address.
  4. Attach a PDF of your transcripts – at this stage these do not need to be official – you can access your transcripts from LORIS (student services > student records > unofficial record of course work > save as PDF) and attach them here.
  5. Once you have completed this click on the Portfolio page and select “Verify” to ensure that all the required information has been entered. Once the verification is completed, the online system generates a reference number – you will give this number to your supervisor, and they will complete the next section (Form 202 – Part II).

STEPS to complete Form 202 – Part II

  1. Login to NSERC’s online system – if it is your first time applying you will need to register; the process will bring you to the eConsole page
  2. Research supervisors should select Forms — Researcher from the list under Forms management; Select Form 202 – Part II; enter the student’s family name and reference number to link Part I and Part II, creating a complete application
  3. Be sure to indicate the correct start date indicating the day, month and year (after April 1st for summer competition only). Must be entered.
  4. Provide the complete address and contact information of the supervisor.
  5. Go back to the My Portfolio page and selects “Verify” to ensure all required information has been entered. The status of the application now shows “Completed”.
  6. The supervisor must hit “Submit to LO” on NSERC website.

 For more details, please refer to NSERC instructions for completing Form 202

Important Dates for 2023

February 23:  NSERC USRA Departmental Competition: Form 202 (Part I and II) and Research Statement by the student and the Payment Information Form by the supervisor must be sent to the department.

February 23: NSERC USRA for Indigenous and Black Students: Form 202 (Part 1 and II) must be completed on the NSERC’s online system; the supervisor must send the completed USRA Payment Information Form to Laurier’s Research Facilitator, Natural Sciences.

February 23: CIHR/SSHRC USRA for Black Students: Form 202 (Part I and II) and Research Statement by the student and the Payment Information Form by the supervisor must be sent to Laurier’s Research Facilitator, Natural Sciences.

March 27: Notice of Decision sent out to applicants.

OTHER RESEARCH AWARDS

If you are a Brantford campus student, consider applying for a research apprenticeship. These are designed to allow an exceptionally qualified undergraduate student to work closely with a faculty member on a project of mutual interest.

Other external organizations also offer research awards to undergraduate and graduate students. Mitacs, for instance, offers programs that help fund student research internships and travel.

There are also many student awards and scholarships that are partly or wholly based on student research. For more information, see Scholarships, Awards and Bursaries (undergraduate students) and Graduate Funding and Awards.

PURSUE AN HONOURS DEGREE OR A GRADUATE DEGREE

Many degrees offer an honours option that allows you to complete a research project that is overseen by a faculty member. Consider this option early in your degree and speak with your academic advisor if you are interested. Similarly, talk to your academic advisor if you are interested in pursuing a master’s or PhD. Most graduate programs – at Laurier and elsewhere – focus heavily on research.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF RESEARCH SPECIALIZATION COURSES

Laurier offers options that you can incorporate into your degree program. If you are interested in research, consider pursuing a research-related option.

The Applied Community Research course and internship offers opportunities to do community research for credit. For more information, contact the Centre for Community Research Learning and Action (CCRLA) at ccrla@wlu.ca.

Many departments offer independent/directed study options, which can be an opportunity to undertake a research project under the supervision of a professor. Speak to your academic advisor if you are interested in learning more.

WORK AND STUDY

Students who are experiencing financial difficulties and who wish to work on a part-time basis may be eligible to participate in Laurier’s Work-Study Program. Professors and research-support units on campus may post research-related opportunities. Due to the popularity of the program, positions get filled quickly, so if you’re interested, you should apply as soon as possible.

Students may also have the opportunity to take on research-oriented jobs, whether through co-op terms, non-co-op summer jobs, or part-time research assistantships during study terms. Laurier's Career Centre may be able to help you find opportunities. Other students find their own opportunities through faculty members.

TAKE A FIELD COURSE

Many departments offer field courses that offer intensive research training opportunities in the field for credit. Speak with your academic advisor to learn about opportunities.