tips and tricks

August Update for Graduate Students

August 05, 2016

Hope your summer is going well — and don't forget that all grad students are entitled to two weeks of vacation each year! (See the Current Graduate Student Handbook).

Awards and Funding

Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS)
Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships
are open to current and incoming doctoral students (includes international students) who demonstrate leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement. SFU's deadline is September 15, 2016. Sign up for the August 25th writing workshop.

NSERC Doctoral Awards Workshop
The workshop will take place on September 8, 3–5 pm, Library Thesis Room #2020, Burnaby campus. Reservations not required.

Grad Student Society Grants
Professional Development Grants
of $500 for travel occurring between October 1 and January 31, 2017, apply by September 1.

External Awards

External Awards with No Deadline

SFU Staff Achievement Awards
Has an SFU staffer gone out of the way to help you out? Nominations are now open for Staff Achievement Awards. Deadline is Monday, September 19, 2016.

SFU International Engagement Fund
SFU's International Engagement Fund is intended as seed money to initiate and support international collaborative programming and research, particularly work focused in SFU's identified global regions of priority. Maximum funding available is $5,000 per proposal. October 4 deadline.

Awards Timelines 
We recommend scanning ahead because it takes time to prepare award applications and send reference requests. 

See our Summer 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

Fall 2016 Student Jobs
We're regularly updating the Roundup of Fall 2016 Student Jobs — there are lots posted right now for the fall term, all closing this week and next week.

Mitacs Consultations at SFU
Through the Accelerate (up to $15k for one term, open to all grad students in all disciplines) and Elevate Postdoctoral programs, Mitacs offers research internships and fellowships to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Amin Aziznia, one of Mitacs' Business Development Specialists, will be holding drop-in consultations on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in August, from 1–2 pm in the Graduate Studies' CAPE office, MBC 1501.

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. (Recording of info session available.)

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.  

See also the Fall 2016 Jobs Roundup — many jobs will be added through the summer months.

Professional Development

APEX Certificate Program
This program is free for all grad students and postdoctoral fellows. Info sessions are not required! This program will help you:

  • Identify your long term professional goals 
  • Build your professional network 
  • Improve your career documentation
  • Build confidence in your knowledge, skills and abilities.  

Get ready for the September intake. Read about how to get started in the program. 

Mitacs Workshops
Mitacs offers free intensive skill-building workshops for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, facilitated by external experts. These are highly recommended by other grad students and in high demand:

Communicating Your Research, 1-hour online course, starting August 10 and ending August 24. Facilitated by Dr. Jenn Gardy, you will learn more about the latest tips and techniques to make sure your next conference talk, email or poster presentation is impactful and memorable.

Note: You can attend any session that Mitacs offers in BC or across Canada— not only the ones held at SFU.See list of all upcoming workshops & register. Note that Mitacs workshops are open to graduated grad students for two years after graduation.

Research Commons
Lots of free workshops scheduled for this summer. Sample titles:

The Research Commons also offers 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.)

Graduate Open Writing Lab: Write Time, Write Space (drop-in)
Registration not required - please drop in!

  • Burnaby Campus
    Mondays, 1:30pm to 4:30pm, SFU Burnaby, W.A.C. Bennett Library, Research Commons, Rm 7000
  • Surrey Campus
    Tuesdays, 12:00pm to 3:00pm, SFU Surrey, Fraser Library, Rm 3695
  • Vancouver Campus
    Thursdays, 3:30pm to 6:30pm, SFU Vancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400
    Fridays, 10:30am to 2:00pm, SFU Vancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Thesis Boot Camp — registrations open
3 days just to work on your thesis and get help from SFU Librarians. $42 includes coffee, snacks and lunches. Limited to 30 registrants.

  • Surrey, August 23–25, 2016 (five spaces still available)
  • Burnaby, December 6–8, 2016 

Are you a grad student AND a parent? 
The Grad Writing Facilitators in the Research Commons are looking for ways to make it easier for grad student parents to access the writing services at SFU. Please send an email to Renee McCallum at for more information.

Graduate Open Writing Labs
A quiet, dedicated writing space with a graduate writing facilitator available for consultations and to answer questions. See full list of writing services. The sessions listed below run until Aug. 12: 

  • NEW: Surrey campus: Tuesdays, 12 noon–3 pm, SFU Surrey, Fraser Library, Rm 3695
  • Harbour Centre: Thursdays, 3:30–6:30 pm and Fridays, 10:30 am to 2 pm, HC 7400.
  • Burnaby: Mondays, 1:30–4:30 pm, Bennett Library, Research Commons, Rm 7000

SciProg Study Group
Schedule is up for the summer!

  • Crafting publication-worthy figures using ggplot2 and cowplot by Leslie Pineda
  • The Basics of Wordpress by Marinde Out
  • Building Shiny apps for interactive data analysis by Dean Attali
  • Data analysis in Python using pandas by Kenji Kurita
  • Parallel Computing by Alex Razoumov
  • Organizing your Data Analysis Using R Projects, Git and R Markdown by Bruno Grande
  • Machine Learning and Random Forest by Jason Barker
  • Introduction to Bash by Vanessa Guerra Canedo

Consortium for the Advancement of Research Methods and Analysis Video Library 
Topics range from Estimating Interaction Effects Using Multiple Regression to Statistical Analysis with Big Data. Access through SFU Library databases until August 31 — your feedback on the usefulness of this video library is requested to determine whether the library will keep it.

Advanced Professional Engagement & eXploration (APEX) Calendar  
A calendar of all professional development opportunities open to graduate students at SFU--all in one place!

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


President's Dream Colloquium on Returning to the Teachings
You are invited to join us for an exciting speaker series and graduate course that will explore justice, identity and belonging in the context of Education for Reconciliation. The graduate course is currently full; we are maintaining a waiting list.

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.

Calls for Submissions

Events around Campus (See even more listings)

Events around Metro Vancouver






Return of the Food Trucks
Food trucks coming back to SFU Burnaby on Wednesdays this summer.


Tips and Tricks

Changes to Program Time Limits and Extensions
The Graduate General Regulations on time limits for degree completion and extensions to complete a graduate degree will be changing as of September 2016.

Ashoka Changemaker Campus
SFU is requesting your input to make ourselves an Ashoka Changemaker Campus. Please complete this 5 minute survey to help us make SFU a global leader in social impact and innovation, and make sure your perspective is captured. (Survey closes August 8)

Health & Counselling Services
A compiled list of sexual assault support services at SFU.

Food for Fines at the SFU Library
A $2 fine waiver will be applied for each nonperishable item donated to a maximum of $30

Graduate Caucus Funding
Did you know that every graduate caucus gets money to spend on almost anything that benefits the grad students in your department? (See the Caucus Funding Spreadsheet for funds available to you for the rest of this fiscal year.)

3D Virtual Environments Study, $10 for your time
Mayra Barrera is looking for volunteers for her research into how can we best interact with objects in a virtual 3D world. This involves selecting and moving objects, similar to user interfaces used in computer games. Study is at SFU Surrey; you'll get $10 for about an hour of your time. To sign up, contact Mayra at

Do You Have a Wasp Nest?
Nathan Derstine, Biology, will come and pick it up for free for his research.

Free access to
All current students, staff, and faculty have free access to through the SFU Library.

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.

Contest Roundup

Reading Roundup


Government of Canada Launches Review of Federal Support for Fundamental Science
They would like to hear from graduate students at this survey.

International Graduate Students

ISS Welcome/Welcome Back Trip to Whistler
Saturday, September 24, 2016, 8:30 am–6:30 pm
Connect with new and current international, exchange & study abroad students this Fall on a day trip to Whistler, BC. You will enjoy spectacular scenery along the "Sea to Sky" Highway, explore Whistler Village and take scenic pictures of Whistler Mountain. The peak to peak gondola ride is optional. A $15 ticket includes transportation to and from Whistler from the SFU Burnaby campus and a light snack on the bus. Availability is limited — get your ticket at the International Services for Students Office (MBC 1200) starting August 22.  Note: Event usually sells out.

International Teaching Assistants
If you plan to be a TA while you are a graduate student, there are two free seminars available. For information, email

There is a cost to be paid in advance, but the fee is refunded as long as you attend the seminar sessions.

In-person International Advising Now Available in Vancouver and 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, CELLTR has 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 became 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 Readings


SFU International's Weekly Newsletter
All international students receive a weekly newsletter from International Services for Students.   



Aboriginal Graduate Student Funds for Academic Conference Attendance and Presentation
Disbursements of up to $1000 each may be applied for in each academic year (starting September 1 of each year). The funds will be given out on a first come/first applied for basis.

National Call to Indigenous Artists for Expressions of Interest and Qualifications
Deadline: September 8, 2016 at 4:00 pm
Budget: $400,000 (total for three opportunities:one at $200,000; two at $100,000)

HaiCo World Indigenous Basketball Challenge
August 10–13, 2016, Burnaby Campus, Lorne Davies Complex (LDC)

8th Annual Tsleil-Waututh Cultural Arts Festival
Sunday, August 21 at 12 noon in Cates Park, North Vancouver, BC

Winnipeg Arts Council
National call to Indigenous artists for expressions of interest in public art opportunity: two awards for $200,000 and one for $100,000. Deadline: September 8.

Big Drum Session
Thursday, August 11, 3–4:30 pm, MBC 2290
This is the last one hosted by Rupert — hope you can make it out!



Graduate Students in the News

NSERC Science Exposed Photo Contest — Please vote!
Grad student Simon Valdez needs your vote in the NSERC Science Exposed competition — he's photo #11. Thanks!

Public Service Media Initiatives in the Global South
Congrats to Anis Rahman, CMNS PhD student, who's also editor of the FIRST book published by the SFU Library as part of their open access work.

Danielle Lappage Punches Her Ticket To 2016 Olympic Games
Watch for Danielle Lappage, Criminology MA graduate, competing in women's wrestling at the Rio Olympics. (If you're curious, SFU Athletics has a list of all of SFU's Olympians to date — SFU's wrestlers tend to bring back medals.)

New dating suggests younger age for Homo naledi
Mana Dembo
, SFU PhD student, was featured in ScienceNews. Her work also appears in the Times Live: 'Naledi' younger, but not your gran. Her PhD dissertation, Exploring morphological phylogenetics of fossil hominins, will be available soon.

A day in the life of Kelly Shoecraft
Kelly Shoecraft, a Visiting Research Scholar in the Faculty of Education, talks about balancing motherhood and advanced studies, unwinding at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre, and where to find some of the best cheese in the city.

An interview with Karen Sawatzky, the student going up against the Vancouver housing market
In November 2014, Sawatzky recorded 2,900 total listings in Vancouver on Airbnb. She categorized them into three groups: private rooms, entire units (apartments, houses, or condos), and shared spaces (couches or bunks). Then in December of 2015, she went back and noted 4,728 total listings. There had been a 63 percent increase in total listings in a single year.

As usage rises, Airbnb denies its service is harming Vancouver rental market
Karen Sawatzky, Urban Studies, was interviewed in the Globe and Mail.

SFU graduate students invent vegetable garden in a shopping cart
SFU urban studies students Tammas Grogan and Kate Elliot discuss their initiative “Gro-Carts: Urban Food Security on Wheels.”

Salmon runs with more diversity provide best catches, study finds
A study by SFU REM researchers Holly Nesbitt (master's student) and Jonathan Moore found that salmon runs offering the most diversity also provide the best catches over time. This story also appeared in the Vancouver Sun.

Sexism biggest barrier for female municipal leaders
Halena Seiferling, Master of Public Policy student, says that gender stereotyping remains the biggest barrier for women entering politics.

SFU/CUC double MA communication student picks up top paper award
CMNS master's student Hatty Liu is the recipient of the International Communication Association (ICA)’s top paper for communication history, a prize that normally goes to a PhD student.

Graduate Certificate brings Ben Britton's invention closer to market
When Ben Britton took the stage at the Hong Kong-Canada National Investment Pitch Competition on June 3 in Calgary, he presented with the confidence of a professional. He knew his product, he knew his market, and he knew he could sway the judges to hand him the $50,000 grand prize — which they did — along with the opportunity to meet investors in Hong Kong.

Want to Be In the News?
SFU News is looking for story ideas about graduates in this October's convocation ceremony. If you're graduating with a great story, please email

Here's what they're looking for: "Perhaps they are embarking on an interesting entrepreneurial objective, or have landed a really exciting job after graduation. Perhaps they are older or younger than most, have overcome adversity, or pursued unusual research, field school, or co-op experiences. Or perhaps you know of a first cohort of graduates from one of your faculty's new programs."

Dates and Deadlines

Monday, August 8, 2016
Last day of classes.
Last day for graduate students to drop classes under special procedures applicable in extenuating circumstances (WE on transcript).

August 12-21, 2016
Examination period. If you are a current TA and want to pay to extend your TSSU medical insurance for up to two terms, application forms are due by the end of the term. (See also: All HR forms.)

Friday, August 19, 2016
Last day for graduate students who completed in Summer 2016 to apply for graduation (October convocation).

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

  • Submission of all graduate degree requirements for 2016 Summer term (must be submitted by 4pm PST, see library submission deadline).
  • Fully graded date.
  • Please remember that you cannot renew your UPass for September if you are not enrolled in classes in September. It takes 24 hours from when you register in classes until you can renew your Upass.

Monday, September 5, 2016
Labour Day, University closed.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Fall term classes start.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016
4:30pm Deadline for submitting a U-Pass BC exemption request for Fall 2016.

Friday, September 16, 2016
End of Bursary application period (bursaries are awarded based on financial need; international students are eligible)

Monday, September 19, 2016

See all the Dates and Deadlines.



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

Follow us on Twitter: @SFU_GradStudies


For those of you are seeing Pokemon Go players in your classes (Source).