Undergraduate students at Concordia will have a new opportunity to gain valuable research experience outside their regular coursework, thanks to a new one-year pilot program from the offices of the Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies, and the Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs.
The Concordia Undergraduate Student Research Award program will provide funding for 50 students from across the university’s four Faculties to engage in research or research-creation activities during the summer under the guidance of a faculty sponsor.
The new program is modelled on the successful Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA), says Graham Carr, Concordia’s Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies. “This year, 48 Concordia students will benefit from the NSERC program and 50 more students will benefit from the funding set aside for our new Undergraduate Student Research Award program,” Carr says.
Both programs provide students with a stipend of $5,625 for 16 weeks of full-time work. In addition to the new research awards, the pilot program will also fund the institution’s part of the NSERC USRA awards.
The program is one of the priority actions designed to support Concordia’s Academic Plan, says Justin Powlowski, interim director of Concordia’s Office of Research as well as interim associate vice-president, strategy and operations. “One of the elements of the plan is to boost participation of undergraduate students in Concordia’s research activities,” he says. “That includes increasing the presence of researchers in the undergraduate classroom, and the number of undergrads who actually take part in research activities.”
Participating in research activities complements undergraduates’ regular coursework, and helps prepare them for graduate studies or research-related careers, Powlowski says. “We want undergraduates to be aware of what’s going on in research and what kind of opportunities there are out there.”
Students to produce research reports
To apply for the Concordia Undergraduate Student Research Awards, students must have completed at least 30 credits of a 90-credit program, or 60 credits of a 120-credit program, and must have a GPA of 3.3 or higher.
Once students have determined their eligibility, they must contact one or more faculty members to sponsor and guide their research. While the award provides a stipend for the student, the research sponsor is expected to provide the supplies and materials needed to carry out the research, and to oversee the research project.
The awards will be distributed according to the total number of full-time registered students in each Faculty. Once all the applications have been received, each department will submit a short list of applicants to a Faculty committee, which will then determine the winners.
“The departments really have the expertise to judge the merit of the research proposals, and rank them on that basis,” Powlowski says. “The Faculty committee will have to synthesize all of the input they’re getting from the departments and make the final decisions on how to rank them.”
Following the completion of their 16-week research term, the award recipients will write a 500-word report. Their completed research may contribute to a research publication or presentation but, Powlowski explains, there are no defined expectations beyond providing a first-class research experience and a final report. “The results will vary from discipline to discipline, from project to project, and also depending on how experienced the students are.”
Students who are interested in applying for the awards are encouraged to find out more about professors’ research interests by talking with their professors, via the departmental websites or through the new research@concordia microsite. “The microsite is a great resource, because you can just type in a search term and see what kinds of research questions and areas professors are interested in,” Powlowski says.
The deadline for applications for the Concordia Undergraduate Student Research Award program is March 8, 2013. Students must submit their proposals to their department chairs.
• Concordia Undergraduate Student Research Award program, including application forms
• research@concordia microsite
• Office of Research