Funding and Awards

External Scholarships

Please see the Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) External Scholarships website for more information about the following scholarship:

  • Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) scholarships
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) scholarships
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) / Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology (QEII-GSST)

Departmental Awards

Provost Doctoral Entrance Award for Women

This entrance award, valued at $5000, is open to prospective female full-time doctoral students (Canadian citizen, permanent resident or student on study permit). Awardees must have first class academic standing, as well as an outstanding record of research accomplishments and/or references citing significant future potential in research. Students will be nominated by their proposed supervisor and/or the Associate Chair, Graduate Studies.

Additional details are available on the Graduate Studies website.

Graduate Seminar Award

This is awarded to the best MSc and PhD presentation at the annual Biology Graduate Student Symposium.


  • 2021 Evan Balzer, Ellen Cameron
  • 2020 Symposium cancelled due to COVID-19
  • 2019 Alicia Dubinski, Parisa Mirzapour (Vision Science), Jody Daniel, Jackson Tsuji
  • 2018 Casey Remmer, Shawna Semple, Wynona Klemt, Eric Le Dreff-Kerwin
  • 2017 Sarah Poynter, Ashley Ross

 Past recipients

J. Frank Brookfield Memorial Graduate Scholarship

This fund is made possible by a donation from the J. Frank Brookfield Trust to support exceptional students studying zoology. The scholarship will be awarded annually to a graduate student registered full time in a master's or doctoral program who is conducting research in zoology. Selection is based on academic achievement over the last two full-time academic years. The Department of Biology will identify and select a recipient annually.


  • 2021 Alexander Douglas, Mehdi Moslemi Aqdam

E.B. Dumbroff Award in Plant Sciences

This award was established by colleagues and former graduate students of Professor Erwin B. Dumbroff in recognition of his contribution to plant science research and his training of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. As a plant physiologist, he researched how plants cope with environmental stress, among other related interests. As a teacher, he developed one of the first courses in the biochemistry of natural products to be offered anywhere. The award will be given to a graduate student for research excellence in any aspect of plant science and will consist of a monetary amount and other forms of recognition, if appropriate. It will be awarded annually or less frequently (if there are no suitable candidates) as deemed appropriate by the Department of Biology Scholarship Committee. A nomination letter from the student's supervisor(s) should outline the outstanding nature of the research including descriptions of their research contributions. This letter is due by the second Friday in March to the Biology Graduate Office.


  • 2021 Alyssa Overton
  • 2020 Lina Aragon Baquero
  • 2019 Courtney Robichaud
  • 2015 Lauren MacDonald

Past recipients

Dr. Noel Hynes Memorial Graduate Scholarship

A scholarship valued at $2,000 will be awarded annually to a full-time graduate student enrolled in the department of Biology in the Faculty of Science, working in the area of ecology.  Preference will be given to students who do not hold another major award.  This fund is made possible by the family and friends of Dr. Noel Hynes, first permanent Chair of the Department of Biology.


  • 2021 Christian Therrien
  • 2020 Lauren Koiter, Mehdi Moslemi Aqdam
  • 2019 Arnold Kwok, Heather Polowyk, Veronica Viljakainen
  • 2018 Mitchell Kay
  • 2017 Jessica Leung, Jackson Tsuji

Past recipients

Brian M. Jessop Graduate Scholarship in Fisheries Science

This scholarship is awarded to a Department of Biology graduate student based on academic achievement over the last two full-time academic years and interest in the biology and/or management of freshwater and/or diadromous fishes in Canada. Students are nominated by the Department.


  • 2021 Nathanael Harper
  • 2020 Isabel Hilgendag

John E. Thompson Biology Graduate Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to a graduate student who also holds an Ontario Graduate Scholarship or other major external scholarship that requires a matching or enhancement component. If a suitable recipient cannot be found, the funds will be paid out as a regular graduate scholarship. Students are nominated by the Department.


  • 2021 Hannah Thibault
  • 2020 Mitchell Kay
  • 2018 Mike Mansfield

Ram and Lekha Tumkur Award

This $1,000 scholarship has been established by Dr. and Mrs. Nagraj Tumkur in memory of their children Rammonhan and Chitralekha, who lost their lives in Air India flight 182 that crashed in June 1985 with no survivors. It is awarded annually for postgraduate study leading to a MSc degree in any field of biology and is based on both scholarship and financial need. Applications are due in October each year. 


  • 2021 Keith McAllister
  • 2020 Isabel Hilgendag, Lucia Liao
  • 2019 Navin Asokumar, Sarah Kim
  • 2018 Rebecca Co, Benjamin Morrow, Cynthia Quan
  • 2016 Cheryl Soulliere

Past recipients

Waterloo Pioneers of Microbiology Award

The Waterloo Pioneers of Microbiology Award was established to honour the pioneering faculty members (Drs. Kempton, Inniss, Mayfield) who established microbiology as a strength at the University of Waterloo and, on a yearly basis, will recognize research strength in the young “Pioneers of Microbiology” among our incoming departmental graduate students (within their first year). The intent of this award is to look beyond transcripts and, by nomination, honour those students with outstanding research potential and scientific creativity. The award fills a unique niche because some of these talented young scientists may be overlooked during the conventional scholarship and award selection processes.


  • 2021 Delaney Nash
  • 2020 Alexander Douglas, Aranksha Thakor, Alex Umbach
  • 2019 Sarah Al-Ajeel, Carina Filice, Grant Jensen, Norman Tran, Adrian Van Dyk
  • 2018 Nikhil George, Angus Hilts, Veronica Viljakainen
  • 2017 Rebecca Co

Past recipients

Dean of Science Award - Biology

The Dean of Science award is given in recognition of outstanding performance in the Master of Science program. One certificate will normally be awarded annually to a master's student from the Department of Biology in recognition of creative research as presented in the student's thesis.


  • 2021 Isabela Jasiak
  • 2020 Sarah Barwell
  • 2019 Benjamin Tremblay
  • 2018 Patrick Pumputis
  • 2017 Dennis Curry

Past recipients

W.B. Pearson Medal

This medal was created to honour Professor W.B. Pearson in recognition of his contribution to the University of Waterloo and to Canada as a research scientist and teacher. One medal is awarded annually to a PhD student from the Department of Biology in recognition of creative research as presented in the student's thesis.


  • 2021 Matt McLeod
  • 2020 Mike Mansfield
  • 2019 Xinda Lu
  • 2018 Maricor Arlos
  • 2017 Laura Sauder

Past recipients

University of Waterloo scholarships

  • Must have a minimum average of 80% in graduate coursework.
  • Must not have any INC in courses.
  • Must not be past program time limits
  • Must be registered as a “Full-time” student in good standing
  • Not available to students who hold NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada), Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS) or other major scholarships.
  • There is no application process; all students who meet the eligibilty requirements are considered in Fall and Winter terms.

Graduate Studies Conference Assistantship

GSPA has a fund available to subsidize the travel costs of graduate students presenting papers or posters at scientific meetings. Students may apply once per fiscal year (May 1 - April 30). Forms are available on the Graduate Studies website and should be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator before the trip. This is only a subsidy, so the student should consult their supervisor first to ascertain whether they are willing to pay some of the travel expense. Proof that the student’s abstract has been accepted is required as well as all original travel receipts.