Winter is coming: See SFU's road conditions page for webcams and university closure notices.

Tips and Tricks

December Update for Graduate Students

December 02, 2015

Last update of the year — hope you take a bit of a break for yourself this month!

Awards and Funding

GSS Professional Development Grants
Apply by January 6, 2016
, for travel occurring between February 1 and May 31 2016.

SFU Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy
The primary aim of the Sterling Prize is to recognize and encourage daring, creative, controversial, unconventional and non-traditional work at Simon Fraser University that also meets high standards and is morally and ethically sound. Graduate students have won this award in the past. Nominations due by January 31.

Graduate Studies Excellence Awards
We want to know about your amazing graduate supervisors, leaders and staff! Awards nominations now open.

External Awards

External Awards with no deadlines 

Awards Timelines 
We recommend scanning ahead because it takes time to prepare your awards applications and request letters of recommendation. 

See our Fall Awards Timeline page.


Bonus tip: Keep a running list of awards that you can apply for in your personal calendar. Even if you've missed this year's deadline, it will probably come up again next year and then you'll have more time to get your application in.



Job and Volunteer Postings

Student Jobs in Spring 2016
We're updating a list of student jobs around the university for the Spring 2016 term.

SFU Temp Pool and Student Temp Pool
SFU's Temp Pool and Student Temp Pool provide employment opportunities for SFU students. See also all SFU job postings, updated every Tuesday and Thursday.

Jobs Roundup

Volunteer Roundup

Mitacs Accelerate Paid Internships
Many internships posted here: You can also set up your own internship, paid at $10–15k per term.

SFU Student Ambassador Volunteers
SFU's Student Ambassador Program is open for applications from students. Ambassadors get a few perks in return for short-term volunteer work.


Student Jobs 
Many student jobs come up with very short notice, so we only have enough time to post them to the graduate students' facebook group.  

Professional Development

3 Minute Thesis Competition Open Now!
SFU's annual 3 Minute Thesis competition will take place in February and March, and signups are open now on MyInvolvement.


APEX Certificate Program

Thinking about your career? Not sure how to approach potential employers or build your network? Trying to understand how the skills and knowledge you're building in grad school will translate in the professional world? The APEX Certificate Program is a free program for grad students. Come to an info session in December or January to find out if the program will work for you:
  • December 4, 1 pm @ Harbour Centre  
  • December 11, 10 am @ Burnaby
  • December 17, 10 am @ Burnaby 
  • January 6, 12 noon @Burnaby 
  • January 7, 9:30 am @ Surrey

Please register for the above info sessions.  

Research Commons Space & Workshops
The Research Commons is a spacious working area in the Bennett Library (7th floor), where graduate students can work on their research and writing in the company of other graduate students. (Link for door code.)

Mitacs Step Workshops
Mitacs workshops are in high demand among all disciplines. They are free one and two-day professional development workshops for grad students and postdoctoral fellows, fully catered. See list of all upcoming workshops & register (click on BC tab). Note that Mitacs workshops are open to graduated grad students for two years after graduation.

Also, you can attend any session that Mitacs offers in BC — not only the ones held at SFU! 

APEX Professional Development Calendar  
A full list of all professional development opportunities is updated regularly on our website. 

You can also add it to your personal SFU Connect calendar. (Instructions are at the bottom of the page.)


We're planning a small orientation event on Monday, January 4. If you feel the need for a "re-orientation" or missed September's large orientation event, you're also welcome!

President's Dream Colloquium on Engaging Big Data
Reservations now open for the free public lectures in this series.

  • Sasha Issenberg, Author and Journalist
    Tuesday, January 12, 2016
  • Dr. Surajit ChaudhuriScientist and Managing Director of XCG (Microsoft Research), Tuesday, January 19, 2016
  • Pat HanrahanProfessor at the Stanford Computer Graphics Laboratory, Cofounder and Chief Scientist of Tableau, Founding member of Pixar, Wednesday, February 3, 2016
  • Sheelagh CarpendaleProfessor of Computing Science 
    University of Calgary, Canada Research Chair in Information Visualization, Tuesday, February 23, 2016, 3:30pm, Surrey campus
  • Colin HillCEO of GNS Healthcare, Tuesday, March 8, 2016
  • Chad Skelton, Award-winning Data Journalist and Consultant, Tuesday, March 22, 2016

SFU Scientific Programming Study Group
Weekly meetings for peer-facilitated study-sessions on topics from Python for DNA sequence analysis, plotting and statistical analysis of environmental data in R, automating repetitive tasks with the shell, general best practices in coding, using tools such as Git and Github to collaborate effectively with others, and much much more.

SFU Festival of Learning in May 2015
You're invited to be a part of the SFU Festival of Learning. The activities that they're looking for include performances, debates, book launches, readings, lectures, tours, discussions, displays and talks. Events must be free and appealing to a wide variety of audiences. Deadline for proposals: January 31, 2015 at 11:59 pm.

Events around Campus (See even more listings)

Events around Vancouver


Tips and Tricks

Human-Robot Interaction User Study
Shokoofeh Pourmehr is looking for volunteers to help her study the usability of the SFU Autonomy Lab's mobile robot interfaces.

Help Test MEC Cold-Weather Clothing
Jingkai Pang is looking for volunteers to test winter technical apparel performance and skin-temperature thermo-sensitivity. Email

Internationalization of Education
Camila Miranda is looking for volunteers for her research on how internationalization impacts your daily practices, from what you are learning to what barriers and opportunities may exist for you. Participants eligible for draw for cash prizes of $50. Email

Beedie MBAs Need Your Clicks
Help SFU get to the 2016 National MBA Games by liking and/or sharing the Beedie School of Business spirit video "Beedie Break!"

Celebration of SFU Authors
For anyone who was published in 2015 as an author, co-author, editor or illustrator. Submissions by February 9.

Zipcar Promo for Grad Students
$20 memberships and the first 30 people who sign up will get a free hour of driving time.

Free Microsoft Office
All SFU students can install Microsoft Office for free.
(Adobe Creative Suite is also available for university-owned computers — could work for labs.)

Confirmation of Enrollment Request
If you need a confirmation of enrollment letter, you can do it yourself through GoSFU.

Open Access Fund
If you're publishing in an Open Access journal, the SFU Library has an Open Access Fund that graduate students can access.

SSHRC Storytellers Challenge
Each year, 25 finalists are selected to receive a $3000 cash prize and specialized training in research communications. SFU grad students have placed well in both years of this competition.

Contest Roundup

Reading Roundup

Want More Academic Readings?
If you're planning a career in academia, you're eligible for a free subscription to University Affairs.


Library Fines?
Food for Fines is back at the SFU Library until December 7.



Leaves for Graduate Students
Two significant regulation changes for graduate student leaves will begin in Spring 2016:

  • graduate students in a per unit fee program will need to be continuously enrolled unless they have been granted a leave of absence (nothing has changed for graduate students in per-term fee programs)
  • two new categories of leave have been created (personal leave, academic break) and the leave of absence fee has been eliminated for all types of leave

For more details on these changes, please read Graduate General Regulations 1.4.3 and 1.8.4 and see more details and forms at our website.

International Graduate Students

Are you a new international graduate student looking for transitional support for life in Vancouver and intercultural friendships with other SFU students? You can request a mentor.

Post-Graduate Work Permit
Completing this term? See these tips on applying for a Post-Graduate Work Permit

Health Insurance
If you started your graduate program in September, you may have recently received MSP coverage. If so, don't forget to opt out of the Guard Me plan. See this link for instructions. 

Note: if you are eligible to apply for partial reimbursement (if you have not made a claim and there is more than 1 month of coverage remaining), you must opt out online before December 1. See this link for more details

Winter Break Travel Tips
Processing times for temporary resident (entry) visas may increase at peak travel times. If you're travelling home or abroad, plan ahead and check your documents to ensure that everything is valid. See this link for tips and resources.

New Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
Canada has a new entry requirement ( eTA ) for foreigners travelling to Canada by air. This entry requirement will become mandatory on March 15, 2016. 

Find out if you need an eTA and how to get one now. Upon approval, the eTA is valid for five years or the expiry date of your passport whichever comes first.   If you are a U.S. citizen or you currently hold a valid Temporary Resident Visa (entry visa), you will be exempt from this new eTA entry requirement. 

New students: If you have any questions about getting settled in Vancouver or at SFU, you are welcome to contact Jackie Amsden, our International Graduate Coordinator, at or drop by the Maggie Benston Centre, Room 1500.



Indigenous Graduate Students

SAVE THE DATE — 14th Annual Indigenous Graduate Student Symposium: March 4 & 5, 2016, UBC Longhouse
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Pamela Palmater, Associate Professor & Chair in Indigenous Governance, Faculty of Arts, Ryerson University. Call for papers is now open — submission deadline has been extended until January 4.

SFU Sweat Lodge
People interested in learning protocols and teachings around building a sweat lodge please contact He will be building the SFU sweat lodge in the next couple of weeks at the Burnaby campus. 

Instructor, Introduction to the Humanities (HUM 101) Aboriginal University Prep Program, SFU Surrey. Deadline for applications is December 4.

Winter Feast for Indigenous Graduate Students
December 10, 5:30–7:30pm, SFU Harbour Centre First Peoples Gathering Space. We will feed our Ancestors first, eat together and then there will be a chance to informally share your research. RSVP to by Friday, December 4 for catering purposes. 

Big Drum and Wellness Session
Thursday, December 3, 3–4:30 pm, MBC 2294


Graduate Students in the News

Donya Samadi profiled in Maclean's Magazine
Donya Samadi came to Canada when she was five. Her parents left Afghanistan looking for a new life in Canada and settled in Vancouver. She was profiled in Maclean's special feature on 25-year-olds across Canada (see #5).

B.C. Bound Syrian Refugees to Boost Local Economy by $563 Million
Eric Adebayo and Ricardo Meilman Lomaz Cohn, PhD students in the Department of Economics, wrote a report for Vancity.

Is B.C. a ‘desirable economic destination’ for Syrian refugees?
Josh Labove, Geography, was interviewed by the Vancouver Courier.

‘Not a business model our industry is embracing’: Airbnb’s crunch on Vancouver rental housing drawing calls for government regulation
Karen Sawatzky, Urban Studies, was interviewed in the Vancouver Sun.

Neglected Loos
SFU anthropology PhD candidate Bicram Rijal comments on global sanitation issues.

Woman finds black widow spider in a pack of grapes
Catherine Scott, Biology, was interviewed by CBS News

Graduate Student Society Election Results
Congratulations to the following elected candidates!
Director of Finance: Greg Christie 
Director of Graduate Services: Michelle Aslan
Director of University Relations: Abhishek Nanjundappa

The U-Pass Referendum question also passed with 89.5% voting YES to continue the U-Pass BC Program until 30 April 2018.

Hackathon Winner
Congratulations to Kheyali Mitra and her team for winning second place in the City of Vancouver's data science competition

Big Data Co-op
Manekta Bedi was featured in the Big Data program's video on her co-op at the Rick Hansen Institute.

SFU News Needs You
SFU News is looking for topical research related to the holidays or to any new programs or events in the new year. Email your story idea to the editor directly:


Dates and Deadlines

Monday, December 7, 2015
Classes end for Fall term. Last day for graduate students to drop classes under special procedures applicable in extenuating circumstances (WE on transcript).

December 25, 2015–January 3, 2016
All university offices closed

December 28, 2015–January 15, 2016
Financial Aid Bursary application period

Monday, January 4, 2016
University re-opens

Tuesday, January 5, 2016     
Spring semester classes begin

Friday, January 8, 2016    

Friday, January 15, 2016     
Deadline for submitting a U-Pass BC Exemption request for Spring 2016 (Note: Students taking a course at UBC under the Western Deans' Agreement will be charged for two U-Passes if they don't submit an exemption request.)

Friday, January 15, 2016     
End of Bursary application period (bursaries are awarded base on financial need; international students are eligible)

Opting out of Dedicated Fee Groups (see GSS website for more information)

More dates and deadlines

Health plan deadlines

Degree Completion this Term?
If you think you will be completing your degree this term, please go ahead and Apply to Graduate.

It doesn't cost any anything for you to apply, and if you don't complete your degree requirements, we just cancel the application, and you can re-apply in the future.

(It's much trickier to add you to the graduation list after the graduation application deadline.)


Grad Students Facebook Group 
Advice and support, movies, free food — plus last-minute job postings and awards alerts: 
(SFU email ID required to join)


From Grad School - An Illustrated Primer (SFU History). See also full text-only version.

Mark Leier comic