Undergraduate Student Research Awards

VPR Sciences Undergraduate Student Research Awards

SFU's Vice-President Research has provided funding for an award program entitled “Vice-President, Research Undergraduate Student Research Awards” (VPR USRA) for current SFU undergraduate students interested in working on a major research project with an eligible university professor. 

Students must be engaged on a full time basis in research and development activities in the natural sciences and engineering during the minimum 16 week tenure of the award. Students are not permitted to take any class or course in the term when they are holding this award.

The VPR USRA is derived from two sources: the VPR award portion and the faculty supplement:
  • The VPR award portion is $4,500
  • The faculty supplement is valued at a minimum $1,856 +8% (for statutory benefits)
  • Note that after June 1, 2018 the faculty supplement is valued at a minimum $2,584 + 8% (for statutory benefits)
Students must be engaged on a full time basis (35 hrs per week) in research and development activities in the natural sciences and engineering during the 16 week tenure of the award. The competitions are announced in January; awards can be held in the proceeding Summer, Fall or Spring terms.
Eligibility Criteria

Students who do not meet the eligibility criteria for an NSERC USRA may be eligible for a VPR USRA Science. VPR USRA awards are available to international students, while NSERC USRA's are not. VPR USRA's are available to faculty members who hold a major grant, but not necessarily from NSERC.

Note that VPR USRA Sciences applicants must:

  • be an SFU undergraduate student;
  • have completed all the course requirements of at least the first year of university study;
  • have been registered and enrolled in courses in one of the two terms immediately prior to holding the award in a bachelor's degree program at SFU (note that a student graduating in the Spring term is NOT eligible to hold the award in the Fall term);
  • have obtained, over the previous years of study, a cumulative average of at least 2.67;
  • have held 2 or fewer USRAs (including NSERC USRAs) in the past; and,
  • not have started a program of graduate studies.


VPR USRA Regular Competition Process (for Students, Supervisors and Departments)
Students who are eligible for an NSERC USRA must apply to that program; NSERC USRA applicants who are not offered an award will automatically be considered for a VPR USRA Sciences. Students can only apply to one program per competition year.

  • Departments and students should review the eligibility criteria as outlined above.
  • Interested students should contact the proposed supervisor, department or program at Simon Fraser University in which they would like to hold the USRA.
  • Students who are eligible for an NSERC USRA must complete the NSERC online application form; students who are ONLY eligible for a VPR USRA must completed the form on this page, print it and attach an up to date unofficial transcripts (not an advising transcript). This must be submitted to the department by the deadline date published by that department.
  • The department completes their supervisor match, rankings and adjudications. The department must notify applicants of the decision of this initial adjudication process.
  • Departments must add the VPR USRA applicants to their NSERC USRA memo, identifying them as VPR USRA and ranking them among the NSERC USRA B listed applicants.
  • Departments must submit a memo and the VPR USRA applications to DGS by deadline February 8, 2018. The memo must contain a ranked A list equal to that department's NSERC USRA allocation and a ranked B list, containing NSERC USRA and VPR Sciences applicants. Projects making use of KEY Big Data Approaches should be identified; for each KEY Big Data USRA given, we will move down the B list.
  • DGS will review the eligibility of all A listed applicants and start offering NSERC USRA awards according to department rankings. Award Offer Letters and Award Acceptance Forms are typically sent via email in early March with a two week acceptance deadline.
  • Top ranked B list applicants will be considered for VPR USRA and KEY Big Data USRA awards. 
  • Students must return the Award Acceptance Form to DGS within the two week acceptance period. Signed, scanned acceptances can be returned via email to dgsaward@sfu.ca
  • Students who have accepted an award must also complete the Personal Data Form and submit it to their Departmental Manager one month prior to their USRA start date.
  • The department manager must send the personal data form (from Human Resources/Payroll) and completed payroll appointment form (PAF), for the faculty portion of the award, to Payroll at least three weeks prior to the USRA start date. A copy of the department’s PAF must be sent to DGS at the same time. (See also: Guide to completing the PAF.) Note that the type of USRA must be indicated on the form (NSERC vs VPR).Once DGS receives the copy of the PAF, we will approve the file and process the VPR portion of the award via the student's SIMS account.
  • The department and/or supervisor must contact DGS regarding any leave or interruption to the USRA.

Here are some of the departmental contacts for these awards. Please note that there may be additional depts where a VPR USRA Sciences can be held; contact dgsawards@sfu.ca for more information.

Dept Contact Email Address Dept USRA Process
ARCH Merrill Farmer arch-grad-secretary@sfu.ca or mfarmer@sfu.ca
PAF's by Merrill Farmer (mfarmer@sfu.ca)
BISC Debbie Sandher biscugra@sfu.ca
PAF's by biscfina@sfu.ca
BPK Darleen Bemister or Carmen Chin
bemister@sfu.ca or
PAF's by Maggie (myeung@sfu.ca)
CHEM   spurdon@sfu.ca or chemugin@sfu.ca PAF's by chemfin@sfu.ca
CMPT   csgrada@sfu.ca PAF's by csfinc@sfu.ca
EASC Tarja Vaisanen tvaisane@sfu.ca  
ECON Mike Perry mjp6@sfu.ca  
ENSC Julie Beauvez enscugra@sfu.ca ENSC USRA webpage
GEOG Anke Baker
HSCI Arlette Stewart  fhs_advising@sfu.ca
LING Rita Parmar lingmgr@sfu.ca  
MATH JoAnne Hennessey mcs@sfu.ca PAF's by casey_bell@sfu.ca
MBB Mimi Fourie mbb@sfu.ca PAF's by mbbmas@sfu.ca
MSE Carol Jang mseupa@sfu.ca PAF's by msefin@sfu.ca
PHIL   philsec@sfu.ca  
PHYS Dave Broun dbroun@sfu.ca PHYS USRA webpage
PSYC Tara Smith or Dr. Ralph Mistlberger tds11@sfu.ca / mistlber@sfu.ca  
REM Iris Schischmanow gradasst@sfu.ca  
SIAT   siatgrad-office@sfu.ca PAF's by ldasilva@sfu.ca
STAT Jinko Graham stat-grad-chair@sfu.ca PAF's by sjungic@sfu.ca 
PAF's by ldasilva@sfu.ca
PAF's by ldasilva@sfu.ca