Undergraduate Summer Research Awards (USRA) - NSERC

Summer 2021 Undergraduate NSERC Awards

Objective: To stimulate student’s interest in research in the natural sciences and engineering, and to encourage students to undertake graduate studies and pursue a research career in these fields.

Value and Duration:  The award is $6000.00 plus a minimum supervisor top up to $14.25/hour plus required fringe benefits (vacation pay is included). USRA award recipients are expected to work full time (35 hours per week) for 16 consecutive weeks - $14.25 per hour x 35 hours x 16 weeks plus fringe).

•    Students must work 16 consecutive weeks (35 hours per week)
•    Students are not permitted to do thesis research while holding an award;
•    Students are not permitted to take courses during working hours throughout the term of their award.     

Process:    The selection process normally involves a combination of cumulative GPA for completed courses and a research interest statement (responses to four career-oriented questions).   The 2021 process is now open to receive applications. Part 1 of the Internal Application Form is to be submitted by 3:00 pm, January 15, 2021.  In the meantime, you are welcome to discuss possible opportunities for supervision of summer research projects with Biology faculty members ahead of time and you should be aware that faculty members are under no obligation to make any promises to students until students have been nominated. Do not fill out the official NSERC application form until you are asked to complete it (you will only be asked if your application is successful - nominations will be made early to mid-February.  You will find a listing of biology faculty and their research interests at https://biology.queensu.ca/people/department/professors/

Deadline:    Completed Internal Application Forms (Part 1) must be submitted electronically to ug.biology@queensu.ca  by 3:00 pm, January 15, 2021.  Successful candidates will be notified the first week of February 2021.  At the February stage, successful candidates will need to secure a supervisor and complete Part 2 of the Internal Application Form (which will be sent out with nomination letters) and the official NSERC application form by 3:00 pm March 2,  2021. 

Supervisor Eligibility:   The holder of a USRA must be supervised by a biology faculty member.  New since 2020, supervisors are no longer required to hold an active grant when applying to supervise a USRA student.  There is no restriction on who can supervisor a USRA student, provided the university deems the faculty member eligible to supervise students and providing they can support their portion of the student award.

Eligibility for Applications:
•    Must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada;
•    Must be registered in a honours degree program in BIOL at the time of application and must be in at least year 2 of study;
•    Must have obtained at least a cumulative GPA of 3.3 for completed courses.
•    If you are registered in health sciences (M.D., D.D.S., and B.Sc.N.) or have a higher degree in the natural sciences or engineering you are NOT eligible.   Graduating BIOL students are eligible providing they have not started a program of graduate studies.
•    Queen’s University and Queen’s Biology is committed to equity and diversity in all programs and activities and welcomes applications from women, visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ persons.

To Hold an Award:   
 •    you must have been registered full-time/part-time in the term immediately before holding the award (Queen's and NSERC expects that most awards will be held by full-time students);
•    you must have not started a program of graduate studies in the natural sciences or engineering;
•    be engaged on a full-time basis in research and development activities in the natural sciences or engineering during the tenure of the award;
•    holders of USRA’s are not permitted to take courses during working hours throughout the term of their award;
•    are expected to work 16 consecutive weeks on a full-time basis;
•    holders are not permitted to do thesis research during the term of the award.

Note:   If you have been registered as a full-time student throughout your program but are now only registered as part-time in order to finish off the requirements of the degree you are still eligible to apply.   The award will be held immediately after your final session/year.    Students may hold one USRA per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).   Although there is an endeavour to distribute awards widely, students may hold a maximum of three USRAs throughout their university career.

I've spent more time than many will believe [making microscopic observations], but I've done them with joy, and I've taken no notice those who have said why take so much trouble and what good is it?

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

It's a parts list... If I gave you the parts list for the Boeing 777 and it had 100,000 parts, I don't think you could screw it together and you certainly wouldn't understand why it flew

Eric Lander

What is true for E. coli is also true for the elephant

Jacques Monod

The world becomes full of organisms that have what it takes to become ancestors. That, in a sentence, is Darwinism

Richard Dawkins

Shall we conjecture that one and the same kind of living filaments is and has been the cause of all organic life?

Erasmus Darwin

Nature proceeds little by little from things lifeless to animal life in such a way that it's impossible to determine the line of demarcation


Cells let us walk, talk, think, make love, and realize the bath water is cold

Lorraine Lee Cudmore

In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history

Charles Darwin

It is my belief that the basic knowledge that we're providing to the world will have a profound impact on the human condition and the treatments for disease and our view of our place on the biological continuum

J. Craig Venter

Imagine a house coming together spontaneously from all the information contained in the bricks: that is how animal bodies are made

Neil Shubin

A grain in the balance will determine which individual shall live and which shall die - which variety or species shall increase in number, and which shall decrease, or finally become extinct

Charles Darwin

The stuff of life turned out to be not a quivering, glowing, wondrous gel but a contraption of tiny jigs, springs, hinges, rods, sheets, magnets, zippers, and trapdoors, assembled by a data tape whose information is copied, downloaded and scanned

Steven Pinker

We wish to discuss a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid. (D.N.A.). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biologic interest

Rosalind Franklin

We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget

Mary Roach

The systems approach to biology will be the dominant theme in medicine

Leroy Hood

I've always been interested in animal behavior, and I keep reading about it because it's so surprising all the time - so many things are happening around us that we neglect to look at. Part of the passion I have for biology is based on this wonderment"

Isabella Rossellini

Because all of biology is connected, one can often make a breakthrough with an organism that exaggerates a particular phenomenon, and later explore the generality

Thomas Cech

Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of evolution

Theodosius Dobzhansky

Biology is now bigger than physics, as measured by the size of budgets, by the size of the workforce, or by the output of major discoveries; and biology is likely to remain the biggest part of science through the twenty-first century

- Freeman Dyson

Nothing can be more incorrect than the assumption one sometimes meets with, that physics has one method, chemistry another, and biology a third

- Thomas Huxley