#63 - New Programs Funding Undergraduate Research

PDAD&C #63, 2004-05


To: Principals, Deans, Academic Directors, and Chairs
From: John Challis, Vice-President, Research and Associate Provost
Date: March 17, 2005
Re: New Programs Funding Undergraduate Research


Following on the University’s Stepping Up objectives to improve the student experience beyond the classroom by increasing the number of undergraduate research opportunities available, I am extremely pleased to announce the creation of two new programs:

  • The University of Toronto Excellence Award in the Social Sciences and Humanities (UTEA-SSH)
  • The University of Toronto Excellence Award in the Natural Sciences and Engineering (UTEA-NSE)

A full process for competition and adjudication of these programs will be in place for the 2005-06 academic years. For the summer of 2005, we are able to offer up to 10 awards in the social sciences and humanities to students and their proposed supervisors who can meet an admittedly very short deadline of April 1st. In addition, we will be able to fund up to 25 natural sciences and engineering students whose applications have already gone through departmental NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award selection and may not otherwise be funded by NSERC, as well as students in departments without USRA selection process, provided these students and their proposed supervisors can meet a deadline of April 1st.

These programs will add magnificently to the undergraduate research experience opportunities already listed on the University of Toronto ’s undergraduate research training roadmap and, in the case of the Social Sciences and Humanities program, offer an experience that was not formally available in the past. Both programs are funded from the relevant Council’s General Research Fund, which are earmarked for the broad purpose of enhancing the quality of research in the relevant disciplines in accordance with each Council’s policies on the use of funds.

The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) does not currently provide universities with General Research Funds. Undergraduate students in the health sciences have access to the Life Sciences Committee’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and the CIHR-funded Health Professional Student Research Awards.

We plan to work with all three Councils to promote increased funding for undergraduate research experiences, and will rely on outcome analyses of these pilot programs to demonstrate their value.

One target audience is all SSHRC grant holders. Another is only those NSERC grant holders who are in departments without USRA allocation in 2005. A third is undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Toronto, particularly those in 2nd and 3rd years.

Further enquiries can be directed to Sarah Scott (416-946-3606 or sja.scott@utoronto.ca) for the Social Sciences and Humanities program and Debbie Bilinski (416-978-7118 or debbie.bilinski@utoronto.ca) for the Natural Sciences and Engineering program.

A.     Program Description

  • Purpose: To provide a new program of research experience in the social sciences and humanities (SSH), and additional opportunities in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE); to augment the formal research courses offered by the University of Toronto; to give undergraduate students opportunities to experience different approaches to research in various fields; to help students learn and appreciate the investigative methodology of areas of particular interest; and, to provide students with an experience that will allow them to make informed decisions about pursuing careers in research.
  • Award Values:
    • UTEA-SSH: $5,625 provided by the University. Any supplement above this level may be set at the supervisor’s or department’s discretion.
    • UTEA-NSE: $4,500 provided by the University, to be matched by a minimum of $1,125, as for the NSERC USRA program.
  • Duration: 16 full consecutive weeks in the summer term.
  • Numbers of awards available: 10 for SSH and 25 for NSE.
  • Application information: http://www.research.utoronto.ca/funding_internal.html

B.     Eligibility of Students for a UTEA

  • Registered (at the time of application) as a full-time student in a bachelor's degree program (and not holding higher degrees) at the University of Toronto. See application information for eligibility of part-time students.
  • Must have obtained, over the previous years of study, a cumulative average of "B+" or higher.

C.      UTEA Supervisor's Eligibility

  • The supervisor of a UTEA holder must be a faculty member holding a SSHRC (for humanities and social sciences students) or NSERC (for natural sciences and engineering students) grant, either as the principal investigator or the co-investigator or the co-applicant.
  • It is expected that provisions will be made for alternative supervision of the student during absences of the supervisor, and that any additional costs related to field work (e.g. travel expenses) will be covered by the supervisor or the department.

D.     Deadlines for submission to Research Services

  • UTEA-NSE, for departments with USRA allocations: was Tuesday, 1 March, 2005; as part of departmental submissions to the NSERC USRA competition; top eligible students who may not otherwise be funded by NSERC will be considered for UTEA-NSEs. Each department will be contacted by the UTEA-NSE Program Coordinator to follow up on this procedure.
  • UTEA-NSE, for departments without USRA allocation in 2005: Friday, 1 April, 2005; candidates will only be considered for UTEA-NSE.
  • UTEA-SSH: Friday, 1 April 2005.