Award information 

What are these awards for?

Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) are meant to stimulate your interest in research in the natural sciences and engineering. They are also meant to encourage you to undertake graduate studies and pursue a research career in these fields. If you would like to gain research work experience that complements your studies in an academic setting, these awards can provide you with financial support through your host university. NSERC encourages qualified Aboriginal students to apply to this program.

Important Details:

  • Great experience if interested in applying to Graduate School
  • Paid to work full-time in a laboratory on campus. Students are not permitted to take courses during working hours (1 course is permitted after hours.)
  • Students can hold the award in Spring or Fall 2017, or Winter 2018. Biology does rankings for all of these terms in January.
  • List of eligible supervisors is available; you need a supervisor to apply.
  • The Biology deadline for this application is Wednesday, January 11th, 2017 and all applications are done online. Applications will be available in December.
  • Applications open to Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents.
  • You can hold the award after your last term at UW, but you must be registered as a student in the term immediately before and after term you're holding the USRA. (i.e. 4B in Winter 2017, grad school in Fall 2017 to hold the award in Spring 2017, or 2B in Spring 2017 and 3A in Winter 2018 to hold it in Fall 2017, for example)

Application Process

1. Find a supervisor, confirm they will endorse your application.

2. Complete the NSERC USRA Application (Available in December). If you applied in a previous year you will have to change your previous application for this year's competition rather than completing a new application. Your supervisor will have to complete a new Form 202.

Please note: The email address on the USRA application form 202 part 1 must be the student’s institutional email (@uwaterloo.ca). 

3. Complete the Biology Department Applicant Statement form online.

4. Prompt your potential supervisor to complete the Supervisor Applicant Endorsement by the deadline.

Application, Applicant Statement, and Supervisor Endorsement due date:

Wednesday January 11, 2017

Biology Rankings

Biology supports supervisors submitting only one application each award year. Students should contact any supervisors they are interested in working with to create the best chances of being put forward.

The Biology Graduate committee will rank candidates primarily based on academic grades, with some preference for upper-year students, and on accepting students from a broad range of backgrounds to reflect Biology's diversity.

The Biology Department would like to cultivate interested and qualified candidates for these awards who plan to join the Biology Graduate program after their Undergraduate Degree has been completed.


Please review the GSO transcript guidelines. (Application process, Step 2 and 5)

You can copy your transcript from Quest, paste it to a Word document then save it as a PDF to upload with your application. Because our deadlines are before Fall grades are finalized, it is acceptable to submit a transcript with Spring as the last term showing grades. We may use Quest to pull Fall grades if more are finalized before reviewing the applications. 

If, while ranking, students averages are equal, we will review the most recent transcripts available on Quest for updated marks.

Award History

For the 2016/2017 competition we received a total of 7 awards that were held in the Spring 2016 and Fall 2016 terms.

For the 2015/2016 competition we received a total of 9 awards that were held in the Spring 2015 and Fall 2015 terms.

Due to award restructuring we were allocated 8 awards for 2014/2015 competition.

For the 2013/2014 competition we had 22 students apply with supervisors for 17 positions. The grades cut off was 89%, but could vary depending on the number of applicants and available positions. 

For More Information:

Students can find more information on the NSERC website and the Graduate Studies Office website.

Contact April Wettig in the Biology Grad Office with any questions,

Biology 1 – 274A; Email: awettig@uwaterloo.ca