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Each year the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences receives an allotment of NSERC Undergraduate Summer Research Awards (USRA) from the Office of Research Services. The NSERC USRA provides undergraduate students the opportunity to work in a research lab during the summer. Details of the program, including eligibility can be found on this website.

NSERC eligibility rules for supervisors have changed. Since 2020, supervisors are no longer required to hold an active grant when applying to supervise a USRA student. There are no restrictions on who can supervise a USRA student, provided the university deems the Queen’s faculty member eligible to supervise students, but our committee will only consider applications from supervisors with appointments in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences (DBMS). You will find a listing of DBMS Faculty and their research interests on the following page: Biomedical and Molecular Sciences Faculty

NSERC USRA 2023 Updates:

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) are pleased to implement the new USRA Black student researchers starting competition 2023-2024. These funds will help address the disproportionate underfunding of Black scholars at the undergraduate level; will contribute to making Canada’s research culture more equitable, diverse and inclusive; and will strengthen Canada’s innovation potential. More information can be found here.

  • For NSERC USRAs: Institutions may recommend applications from self-identified Black student researchers for USRAs beyond their allocations of awards (the current process already in place for Indigenous students).
  • For CIHR and SSHRC USRAs: at the present time, USRAs are exclusively for Black student researchers and eligible institutions will receive a limited allocation from each granting agency based on their average of the total sum of CIHR or SSHRC grant funding received over the three available fiscal years. 
  • CIHR and SSHRC students who identify as Black please contact your department and or supervisor.


NSERC has increased the value of the award for 2023 to a minimum of $9800.00 (from $6,000). The supervisor and/or department must still contribute a minimum of 25% to the award value.

As part of the 2023 pilot Undergraduate Research Grant Program, the VPR will provide an additional top-up to each award to increase the salary rate to $17.50 per hour. However, the minimum supervisor contribution will remain as calculated to meet minimum wage requirements.  Please note an additional 4% vacation pay will be applied to the base salary/hourly rate entered for the contract for employees with less than five years of employment (if five or more years, different rules may apply). 

Typcially, USRA award recipients are expected to work full time (35 hours per week) for 16 weeks (from May 1 to August 31). Awards may not be deferred. 

NSERC will honour the full value of the award regardless of the length of the work term. A minimum supplement from the supervisor and/or department of at least 25% of the value of the award is still required.

For NSERC USRAs: Institutions may recommend applications from self-identified Black student researchers for USRA’s beyond their allocations of awards (akin to the current process already in place for Indigenous students).

NSERC recommends that applications are evaluated by the following criteria:

    • Academic record of the applicant
    • Research aptitude of the applicant
    • Expected quality of the training to be received; may include suitability of supervision and research environment.

To maintain an efficient, fair, transparent, and equitable process to both the applicants and the sponsoring principal investigators, the following guidelines are provided:

  1. Eligible students are first required to find a principal investigator who will sponsor their NSERC USRA application.
  1. Eligible principal investigators (i.e. DBMS faculty) can only sponsor one student applicant per year.
  1. The NSERC USRA website includes general information for students and fellows regarding the application process.


  1. Complete NSERC Form 202 – Part I.
  2. Generate a pdf of an up-to-date unofficial transcript (if you are a Queen’s student).
  3. Briefly describe laboratory/research experience and future research-based goals.

Sponsoring Principal Investigator:

  1. Complete NSERC Form 202 – Part II, and submit on-line and download a copy to include in your PDF to our office.
  2. For the Description of the Project in Part II, please be sure to write for non-experts, clearly define abbreviations, limit jargon, and clearly state a scientific rationale and hypothesis.
  3. Provide details of all current operating funding for the host lab (i.e. title, agency, amount/year; 1-page maximum). Details of non-operating grants (e.g. NSERC RTI or CFI) are not required.  Please enter all number 9's for the grant number for the online application.  
  4. The deadline for submitting an electronic copy of the full application package to the Life Sciences and Biochemistry Program Office to is March 10th, 2023 at 3pm.

The following criteria will be considered when evaluating and ranking the applications:

  1. Academic excellence of the student applicant.
  2. Home institution of student applicant (ie. Queen’s or external).
  3. Laboratory/research-related experience and career goals of student applicant.
  4. Proposed Project.
  5. Currently held funding by host lab (i.e. NSERC funding relative to other sources of research-based operating funds).

*Incomplete applications or those for which guidelines have not been followed will not be considered.

The review committee will be comprised of three members of the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences who will review and rank the applications, one of which will chair the review committee.

NSERC has prepared tutorial videos to summarize the process of applying for a funding opportunity. These videos provide an overview and general guidance only. For more detailed information, read the appropriate sections in the individual description and specific instructions for the program to which you are applying.