Tips and Tricks

February Update for Graduate Students

February 01, 2016

SFU's annual 3 Minute Thesis starts this month, and we've got extra incentives if you sign up! As always in our monthly update, we have awards, lots of jobs (summer TSSU jobs are starting to be posted) and so many other opportunities for grad students.

Awards and Funding

GSS Professional Development Grants
Apply by March 1, 2016
, for travel occurring between April 1 and July 31, 2016.

Graduate Studies Excellence Awards
We want to know about your amazing graduate supervisors, leaders and staff! Awards nominations now open. (Supervision award winners get graduate fellowships for the student of their choice; leadership award winners give a travel award to a graduate student.) Nominations due by March 15.

Embark SFU grants, up to $500
Do you have an idea for a sustainability-related project or event? Apply by March 7.

Neighbourhood Small Grants
The Vancouver Foundation's Neighbourhood Small Grants program opens on February 15: "Small grants of up to $500 are available for residents to develop projects that meet the needs of the community." (Could be a block party or film screening.)

External Awards

External Awards with no deadlines 

  • Youth Education Assistance Fund, for young adults who have spent time in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development or a delegated Aboriginal agency (See also Youth Education Bursary)
  • Mitacs Globalink Research Award, up to $5k for study in Brazil, mainland China, India, Mexico, Turkey or Vietnam. No application deadline, but
    Mitacs recommends applicants submit applications by February 5, 2016, for projects starting in Summer 2016.

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

See our Spring 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

TA / TM / Sessional Job Postings for the Summer term
Jobs are starting to get posted for the Summer 2016 term. (If you're relatively new to SFU, please note that there are far fewer courses offered in the summer term than in the fall and spring terms, which means that there will be fewer teaching positions.)

Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre
Teaching assistant applications open now. Other jobs also available.

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.

Federal Student Work Experience Program
Wide variety of student jobs in the Government of Canada, from computer programming to student guides to rescue boat service and more. Must be a full time student; international students may apply but "preference will be given to Canadian citizens who meet the job requirements."

Gerontology Interviewers
Part-time interviewer positions — A Gerontology study is currently hiring interviewers for the British, Chinese, and South Asian groups. Therefore, the interviewer(s) must be fluent in English only OR English and one of the following languages: Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi, or Hindi.

Research Assistant, Children’s Health Policy Centre
Research Assistant position to assist with the Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly publication (The Quarterly). This is a full-time position for a 14-month term (parental leave) with a start date of March 1, 2016. (There are also two volunteer positions on that page.)

Research Assistant, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
Assists the Gender and Sexual Health Initiative (GSHI) in the implementation, execution and evaluation of global health research and research related activities. Apply by February 12.

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.

BONUS: Win free tickets to Naomi Klein's talk for SFU Public Square on March 11
We have 20 tickets for Naomi Klein's talk. They will go into a random draw for all interested students who sign up to the competition and participate in at least one heat, whether it's a departmental or a faculty heat.

Check out the 3MT training sessions! 


NEW! Software Carpentry Workshops
SFU will be holding several 1/2 day workshops as part of Titus Brown's Data Intensive Biology (DIB) Training program. All are welcome to participate, regardless of discipline or training level.

Creative Writing Workshops
Free writing workshops with Jordan Scott, Writer in Residence, Department of English

Introduction to Project Management
Free online course on EdX, starts February 17

Presenting with Impact workshop series
Can you communicate your research in a way that inspires your listeners? Granting agencies and employers value communication and knowledge translation skills and we've developed this series to help you level up your abilities. Participation in these training sessions may be eligible for SFU's Co-Curricular Record — plus we guarantee that they will help you feel more comfortable at your thesis defence.

  • Presenting with Impact: Practice Makes Perfect
  • Mitacs: Practice Your Presentation Skills II
  • Teaching and Learning Centre: Presenting without Panic
  • Presenting with Impact: Making the Most of Your Visuals 

Vancouver Institute for Visual Analytics Student Workshops
$25 membership gets you into a free 8-week student workshop series.

Instructional Skills Workshop (free)
The Instructional Skills Workshop is designed to strengthen novice to expert instructors' skills through intensive, yet practical, exercises in learning-centred teaching. Runs February 10-12 (reading week), 8:30 am–5 pm.

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 students in all disciplines. They are free one and two-day intensive training for grad students and postdoctoral fellows, fully catered. These two workshops are on offer at Burnaby campus this term: 

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

APEX Certificate Program
This program is free for all grad students and info sessions are no longer required! This program will help you:

  •  Make plans to support your long term career goals while in grad school
  • Build your professional network 
  • Improve your career documentation
  • Build confidence in your knowledge, skills and abilities.  

Read about how to get started here.

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.)


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

  • 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.

Events around Campus (See even more listings)

Events around Vancouver

Graduate Student Society Annual General Meeting
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Registration: 1 pm
Meeting: 2 pm
MBC 2290, Burnaby Campus – Room

Post AGM Social at the Highland Pub
The GSS is hosting a social at the Highland Pub (Burnaby Campus) following the AGM. One free drink will be given to all grad students who attend the entire meeting. There will be free appetizers at the Highland Pub as well. We will also be awarding the prizes at the Highland Pub!



Tips and Tricks

Grad Student Photo Shoot at SFU Surrey
We'll be coming to SFU Surrey on February 25, 11 am–1 pm. Please reserve.

Missing Emails?
We have become aware that emails from SFU ( sent to or forwarded to any email accounts hosted by Microsoft (,, and are being identified as SPAM and delivered to recipients’ junk mail folders, or not delivered at all in some cases. This problem may have started as early as two months ago. See more details.

SFU Residences Moves Downtown
The Vancouver Graduate Residence is for grad students only, and opens in May 2016. Located by SFU Woodward's (see google map).

Big Data at SFU — Your Feedback Requested
The VP Research office is looking for student feedback on a university-wide Big Data initiative. They are asking students, faculty, staff, and alumni to engage share your ideas for Big Data at SFU, tell them your needs, and help them strengthen SFU's activities in this field. Send your ideas to

SFU Campus Security: Active Threat Video
This video was developed to provide our community with information about active threat situations and how best to respond.

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

UBC Okanagan 7th Annual Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference
Call for papers for Bumping Zones: Bridging the Gaps between Disciplinary Research, proposals due by February 26.

CRABE Lab Pays for Research Subjects
Students are invited to sign up online. Participants receive $7 for arriving on time to the session and an additional payment (usually around $15-20/hour) that depends on the decisions they make.

Online Resilience course for Grad students
Resilience is a survival skill, and there's a free course on Canvas on Bouncing Back as a Graduate Student: Building Resilience and Supporting Your Well-being.

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.


NSERC Photo Contest
$2000 for the best NSERC-related photo. International students and postdocs are eligible, as are groups. Deadline is February 19. (Bonus reading: The power of pictures. How we can use images to promote and communicate science)

Contest Roundup

Reading Roundup

Bonus photo: Patrick Stewart and Ben Kingsley were on campus with the Royal Shakesepeare Company in 1977, featured in The Province's roundup of 50 little-known facts about 50-year-old Simon Fraser University. (See even more photos from SFU Archives.)

Want More Academic Readings?
If you're planning a career in academia, you're eligible for a free subscription to University Affairs. They're also looking for articles by students for their student voices section — Submit your idea to


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

Tax Information for International Students Studying in Canada: Video Series
The Canada Revenue Agency has released a series of short videos explaining the different aspects of the Canadian tax system as it relates to international students in post-secondary institutions.

BCNP Introduces new Skilled Immigration Program 
The province of British Columbia has launched a new intake system for the Provincial Nominee Program. Go here to learn more.

In-person International Advising Now Available in Surrey  
International Services for Students is now offering in-person appointments with their International Student Advisors at the SFU Vancouver and Surrey campuses. Go here to book your appointment and find more information.

EAL/ESL Support Services for Graduate Students 
If English is not your first language and you would like to improve your written and spoken proficiency, we've put together a 
roundup of free support services available at SFU.

New Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) 
Canada has a new entry requirement ( eTA ) for foreigners traveling to Canada by air. This entry requirement will become mandatory on March 15, 2016. 
Find out more about the eTA here.  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. 

Recommended Reading
Western Guide to Mentoring Graduate Students Across Cultures (pdf download). This guide can help you navigate a lot of common communication issues based on cultural assumptions.

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.

Irving K. Barber Aboriginal Awards
Awards of $1,000 - $5,000 are available for Aboriginal people pursuing post-secondary education at B.C. public post-secondary institutions or Aboriginal-run institutions. Apply by April 1

National Indigenous writing contest
Thunderbird Stories is hosting a National Indigenous writing contest. The contest will run to February 29th, 2016. Stories must be under 3000 words. Prizes of $2000, $1000 and $500.

SFU Sweatlodge
We're looking for volunteers to help during our sweatlodge work day. We will be working to clear the space and build the lodge. Date: t.b.d. If you are interested you can contact

Canadian Government Careers for Aboriginal Persons
Post-Secondary Recruitment Program open now, closing date is March 15, 2016

SFU plans residential school memorial
Simon Fraser University is planning a memorial which would honour First Nations, Metis and Inuit children who attended residential schools.

Google Doodle for Australia Day
The World’s Most Popular Website Just Ripped The Rug Out From Under Australia Day

Aboriginal lecture series

Aboriginal Lecture Series coming to SFU Woodward's, starting in March.

Graduate Students in the News

Biology Grad Students on CBC News
Allison Cornell and Raime Fronstin were interviewed by CBC for their wildlife cameras around the campus woods. Coverage starts around coverage starts around 16:50 at the clip below (sorry about the ads). Full story here.

B.C. engineers build robotic leg that could help wheelchair users walk
Soheil Sadeqi and Shaun Bougeois, Mechatronics, made the news with a robotic leg that could help wheelchair users walk.

Graduate student team selected for exclusive Hult Prize competition
Beedie School of Business graduate students Vladimir Baydin, Mahad Farrukh, Ahmed Sallaam and Grace Potma have qualified from a field of over 25,000 applicants for the prestigious Hult Prize, the largest student competition in the world. They'll be working on social entrepreneurshp for Crowded Urban Spaces.

Exercise May Put Some Heart Patients at Risk
Dr. Peter Ruben and graduate students Colin Peters and Mena Abdelsayed have found that intense exercise is not advisable for everyone.

N. Oregon Coast Museum Looks at Humans Two Million Years Ago
SFU Archaeology PhD Cameron Smith presents on ancient human migration patterns.

Zatorski opens aboriginal speakers series
Beedie School of Business MBA student Rena Zatorski is the opening speaker at UNBC's Aboriginal alumni series. 

Zero concussions for high school football team after trying new technology
SFU post-doctoral fellow Daniel Abram comments on the development and manufacturing of BrainSheild a technology that helps reduce head injuries.

Breakthrough test can diagnose disease on the spot
Dr. Yingfu Li & his team at McMaster University have developed a test that can sense the presence of virtually any illness - from cancer to the common cold - based on a drop of sweat or saliva! Yingful completed his PhD in SFU's Chemistry dept and said "SFU has a special place in my heart, I grew into a world-class researcher there."

New trees eyed to battle pine beetles
Dezene Huber, Biology PhD 2001, is now working on breeding pine beetle-resistant trees.


Want to be in the News?
SFU News is looking for interesting research or other story ideas that might suit a Valentine's theme - i.e. new heart research, relationships research, or anything else you can dream up! If you have an idea, please email

Dates and Deadlines

Monday, February 8, 2016
Family Day. All classes and offices closed.

February 9–14, 2016
Reading break. Classes cancelled. (Please note: this is for applicable departments only.)

Saturday, February 27, 2016
Last day to drop with a 50% refund of tuition. No refund of ancillary fees or January/February U-Passes.

March 14–April 1, 2016
Work-study application period.

Monday, March 7, 2016
Registration opens for Summer 2016 term (approximate).

Friday, March 11, 2016
Deadline for other Western universities to receive application forms for graduate students to take courses elsewhere under the Western Deans' Agreement.

Monday, March 14, 2016
Last day for graduate students to drop classes with a WD on their transcripts

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)

PhD Comics: Valentine's Day in Academia