Graduate Studies at the CWE
General Overview of the CWE
How to Apply
Are you interested in graduate studies in the Centre for Wildlife Ecology? If so, you should peruse this website for an introduction to us and our group. Here you’ll find our Mission Statement, history, Annual Reports, descriptions of our projects, a list of our publications etc. All of this will help you decide if Simon Fraser University might be the place for your graduate studies.
Here’s a thumbnail sketch: the CWE is a research organization housed in the Department of Biological Sciences at SFU. We have three faculty members in the department (Ron Ydenberg - Director; David Green, Tony Williams), and one Research Associate, Dov Lank. In addition, several Research Scientists of Environment Canada are members of the CWE and Adjunct Professors in the Department of Biological Sciences. All these people bring in research funds and supervise graduate students, of whom there are at any one time about 25, pursuing either PhD or MSc degrees. Some visitors and post-doctoral fellows round out the group. Two staff members look after the day to day functions and administration (Connie Smith and Kathryn Coukell). An up-to-date listing is found here.
We work with a wide variety of partners, including other faculty at SFU such as those in the Behavioral Ecology Research Group (BERG), other universities in Canada and abroad, Canadian and US government agencies, amateurs and volunteers, and private sector groups. CWE members are engaged in many research projects, but most fall into one of the major categories aimed at priority areas of our main partner agency, Environment Canada.
We’re always interested in new students, and would like to encourage your interest. You may already have corresponded with a potential supervisor and launched a dialogue, but if not the place to start is here. We’ve arranged this by trying to answer the questions you’re likely to ask.
HOW MANY STUDENTS GET IN, AND WHAT’S THE TIMING?
There are generally a number of possibilities (~ 2 - 6) for new graduate students each year. We always have many more inquiries than we can possibly accept. Typically, a potential student inquiries in the course of the academic year (October to January or so), and we then correspond a bit to determine if there might be a place. We select from among these applications in March as we finalize budgets and planning for the next academic year. Students then make their official applications to the University in April or May, and begin in September. We stress that this schedule is very flexible, and can be altered as either the project or the student demands. Students may begin enroll in January, May or September.
Students who applying to NSERC for a PGS (Post Graduate Scholarship) or CGS (Canada Graduate Scholarship) in tandem with their CWE inquiry should carefully peruse the relevant NSERC webpages. It currently (March 2015) appears that you must have completed an application to the university or universities of your choice to be considered by those institutions in their rankings for NSERC graduate scholarships. For PhDs, this now takes place in the fall (15 October), with adjudication by SFU taking place by the end of the year. For MSc, students need to apply to NSERC by Dec 1 but then need to get their application to SFU completed by mid-Feb at the latest (and earlier is better). Further, be aware that these procedures change from time to time: hence, you should make sure that you are dealing with the most recent information. An additional hazard is that NSERC's website could be more user friendly! All of this will take time, and so you should initiate the process earlier rather than later.
WHAT’S LIFE LIKE AT THE CWE?
We encourage potential students to contact and talk with any of our current graduate students to see what the CWE graduate experience is like. They have been told to expect that potential students might contact them with questions, and they are prepared to help. Interactions between you and them are not reported to potential supervisors, nor do graduate students make assessments that might influence your acceptance. Thus, you are free to speak openly with them, and they with you.
WHAT DO WE LOOK FOR IN APPLICANTS?
We’re looking for potential in research, which is difficult because this is not necessarily measured well with grades, nor can it be represented directly in any application. We have to do the best we can with this material to make fair and good choices! We try to select a mix of students, matching them to projects as best we can. Funding is certainly an asset, but is NOT make or break. Experience helps, but of course we understand that many students embarking on a MSc have little or no experience. We look at your transcripts and especially at letters of reference. If at all possible, we like to meet with applicants in person, as this gives an invaluable opportunity for both of us to decide whether the CWE is the right place for you.
HOW DO I INQUIRE ABOUT A POSSIBLE OPENING?
To pursue an application, compile the following: