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The 2022 NSERC USRA Program information will be updated shortly.


Information below reflects changes that were made for the 2021 NSERC USRA program.  

For 2021 there is an increase to the award value:

• NSERC has increased the value of the award from $4,500 to $6,000. The supervisor and/or department must still contribute a minimum of 25% to the award value.

Continuation of accommodations due to COVID-19:

In light of the continuing uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, NSERC will be continuing the following accommodations for the 2021/22 competition cycle:

• Remote supervision of projects will be permitted. Supervisors must hold regular meetings with USRA holders via phone or video calls.

• While it is encouraged that the work term remains 16 weeks long (May 1 to August 31), accommodation can be made if needed.

• NSERC will honour the full value of the award regardless of the length of the work term. A minimum supplement from the supervisor and/or department of at least 25% of the value of the award is still required.

Should local public health recommendations allow, the preference is for USRAs to be held in person, but remote supervision will be allowed without additional justification to NSERC. Should theproject allow, students who prefer to work remotely should not be penalized.


The NSERC USRA provides undergraduate students the opportunity to work in a research lab during the summer.  Details of the program, including eligibility can be found at   

Each year the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences receives an allotment of NSERC Undergraduate Summer Research Awards (USRA) from the Office of Research Services.  NSERC eligibility rules for supervisors have changed. Since 2020, supervisors are no longer required to hold an active grant when applying to supervise a USRA student. There are no restrictions on who can supervise a USRA student, provided the university deems the faculty member eligible to supervise students. This means that faculty with salary funded through a CFREF or CERC are now eligible. NSERC recommends that applications are evaluated by the following criteria:

    • Academic record of the applicant
    • Research aptitude of the applicant
    • Expected quality of the training to be received; may include suitability of supervision and research environment.

You will find a listing of DBMS Faculty and their research interests at: Biomedical and Molecular Sciences Faculty

To maintain an efficient, fair, transparent, and equitable process to both the applicants and the sponsoring principal investigators, the following guidelines are provided:


Students applying for a NSERC USRA must meet the eligibility requirements outlined by NSERC (

Application Process

  1. Eligible students are first required to find a principal investigator who will sponsor their NSERC USRA application.
  1. Eligible principal investigators (i.e. DBMS faculty) can only sponsor one student applicant per year.
  1. The NSERC USRA website includes general information for students and fellows regarding the application process (


  1. Complete NSERC Form 202 – Part I (, print a hardcopy of your submission, and a copy/scan the forms to submit to the office with your supporting materials listed below.
  2. Generate a hardcopy/scan of an up-to-date unofficial transcript (if you are a Queen’s student).
  3. Briefly describe laboratory/research experience and future research-based goals (1-page maximum including 1 inch margins and 12 point font) and attach to the hardcopy/scan of your submission.

Sponsoring Principal Investigator:

  1. Complete NSERC Form 202 – Part II (, print a hardcopy, and submit on-line.
  2. For the Description of the Project in Part II, please be sure to write for non-experts, clearly define abbreviations, limit jargon, and clearly state a scientific rationale and hypothesis.
  3. Provide details of all current operating funding for the host lab (i.e. title, agency, amount/year; 1-page maximum with 1 inch margins and 12 point font). Details of non-operating grants (e.g. NSERC RTI or CFI) are not required.  Please enter all number 9's for the grant number for the online application.  
  4. The deadline for submitting an electronic copy of the full application package to the Life Sciences and Biochemistry Program Office to is March 1st, 2021.

Evaluation Criteria

The following criteria will be considered when evaluating and ranking the applications:

  1. Academic excellence of the student applicant.
  2. Home institution of student applicant (ie. Queen’s or external).
  3. Laboratory/research-related experience and career goals of student applicant.
  4. Proposed Project.
  5. Currently held funding by host lab (i.e. NSERC funding relative to other sources of research-based operating funds).

*Incomplete applications or those for which guidelines have not been followed will not be considered.

Review Committee

The review committee will be comprised of three DBMS members who will review and rank the applications, one of which will chair the review committee.