Scholarship Application Workshop

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Dr. Michael Gold, Professor & Head
Co-Leader Infection, Inflammation & Immunity (I3) Research Group, provides advice how to prepare scholarship applications. The presentation was given as part of Rising Stars of Research 2009.

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Scholarship Application Workshop

  1. 1. Graduate scholarships •Slides will be posted on RSR web site
  2. 2. NSERC 2009 http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/ Postgraduate Scholarship (PGS M)- $17, 300 Canadian Graduate Scholarship (CGS M) - $17,500 Eligibility • Canadian citizen or a permanent resident • Hold a degree in Science or Engineering (by time of award start) • First-class (A-) average in last 2 years of full-time study How to Apply – NSERC DEADLINE OCTOBER 15, 2009 • Application available online • Form 200 • Appendix 1 (Sponsor/Reference letters) • Official transcripts
  3. 3. How to apply to NSERC Registration Status at Time of Application
 Where to Submit Application
 You are currently registered at (or were registered at The Canadian university at which you are currently or during the year of application), or are on an approved were registered, or from which you have taken an leave of absence from, a Canadian university in a approved leave of absence
 degree program.
 You are currently registered at a foreign university.
 Directly to NSERC
 You are not currently registered at a university, or are registered but not in a degree program, and you The Canadian university from which you graduated in graduated from a degree program from a Canadian the last 12 months
 university during the year of application (January to December 2009).
 You are not currently registered at a university, or are registered, but not in a degree program, and you Directly to NSERC
 graduated from a degree program prior to January 2009.

  4. 4. CIHR 2009 Banting and Best Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS M) Master’s Awards -- $17, 500 for 1 year Eligibility • Canadian citizen or a permanent resident • Completed or be in last year of a Bachelor's degree by Feb 1, 2010 How to Apply • Registered in Fall 2009 at a Canadian University • Apply through that University • Contact Graduate Awards Dept. for internal deadline • Not registered at a Canadian University • Apply directly to CIHR by Feb 1st 2010
  5. 5. CIHR 2009 Apply online through ResearchNet https://www.researchnet-recherchenet.ca/rnr16/LoginServlet A completed application requires: • Common CV module validated by CIHR • Original official transcripts (sent to University if applying through University or CIHR directly if applying direct to CIHR) • CIHR sponsor reports (one should be from most recent research supervisor) • Confirmation of CDN citizenship or PR status
  6. 6. How fellowship applications are ranked if you apply through a university: Ranking by department Overall ranking by University National ranking by CIHR or NSERC $
  7. 7. How are fellowship applications evaluated? By a committee of scientists who may not be in your field Main aspects of a fellowship application that are evaluated 1. Academic record 2. Previous awards 3. Past research experience/research contributions 4. Research project description 5. Career goals/training expectations/how going to this lab will facilitate those goals 6. Evaluation letters 7. Research environment (CIHR only) supervisor's publication record, funding resources and facilities needed for project available (supervisor provides this information)
  8. 8. How are fellowship applications evaluated? Scoring scheme for /NSERC MSc fellowships: Academic excellence (grades, awards) 50% Research ability or potential 30% Communication skills, interpersonal and 20% leadership abilities CIHR is 40% grades, 40% research
  9. 9. Academic excellence (40-50%) A. Grades/ transcripts 1. Type of program and courses pursued 2. Course load 3. Grades/overall average •First class grades for last 2 years of full time study •Calculated for all courses. 4. Relative standing (if available)--could be mentioned in reference letters 5. Trend (credit for steady improvement or consistently good performance)
  10. 10. B. Previous awards Past recognition indicates you have been at the top of your group in the past. Include: 1. All university scholarships--indicate Name of award Who it is given by What it is given for (e.g. best science undergrad) How much money Period: What years, how long Whether it was a competitive award 2. Best student, project, report, etc. awards 3. Awards or scholarships for other activities--Service, Athletics •Shows you are well rounded and have other skills that may be important ••Keep an up to date CV that includes all awards and accomplishments!
  11. 11. Research ability/potential (30-40%) •Has the student developed qualities of a successful grad student? •Has the student already contributed to research projects (figures in papers, etc.)? 1. What part of your applications do they get this info from? a) Your description of previous research experiences. b) Letter from your previous supervisor(s) c) Research contributions list 2. Research contributions list (part of a research CV). ••Evidence of scientific contributions. List: •Papers you are an author on •Posters you've presented •Presentations you've given •Title of honors thesis
  12. 12. Q: What do reviewers look for in the written description of your past research? • Can describe goals/aims/hypothesis of the project • Can concisely describe results and their importance • Can point out significance of findings •How it contributed to projects in the lab •How it has advanced the field •••Don't just list techniques you've done or the experiment you did! Q: What should letters of recommendation say about your research abilities? • Quality of work • Ability to think critically, evaluate ideas, analyze data • Ability to perform independent research • Initiative, enthusiasm, interest in research • Determination, perseverance
  13. 13. Research project description Q: Who is reading it? What should you assume of the reader? 1.  Reviewer may not be familiar with your field. ••Write it for a person with general scientific knowledge. ••Infinite ignorance but infinite intelligence. 2. Reviewer will also be reading many other applications and will have to write a short review of your application. ••Make it easy for them to find what they want to know about your project. ••Clear, easy to read, well organized, easy to follow logic
  14. 14. Important elements of the research proposal Background, significance, importance 1. What is this project about? 2. What's the big picture? 3. Are there important unanswered questions? 4. Why is this important research to do? “Research plan” (not methods) 1. Clear statement of hypothesis and specific aims. 2. Logical progression of questions 3. Explain rationales and predicted outcomes for each goal 4. Keep the description of methodology brief unless it is novel. 5. Indicate that project is feasible and can be done in your lab 6. Briefly describe further studies that could be done--"vision”. Reiterate significance of possible results 1. How could this information be used?
  15. 15. Tip: Clearly label the sections of your proposal: 1. Background 2. Hypothesis 3. Research plan 4. Significance Q: What else does the reviewer look for? a) Well written (good spelling, grammar) b) Well organized c) Clear, easy to follow logic d) Significance clearly stated e) Easily understood by someone who is not in your field f) Shows critical thinking and originality ••Give entire application to your supervisor, other students to read and comment on. ••Finish first draft early enough so that you can modify application
  16. 16. Career goals/ training expectations/ justification of where graduate work will be done How getting a degree with proposed supervisor relates to career goals 1. Why did you pick this lab? • Supervisor is a leader in field. • Lab focuses on research area that you want to pursue for your career. • Lab’s research area is important and the training you receive will you address important problems in the future 2. How the training environment that will aid your career development: • Lab has special expertise, facilities • Ability to work with others who can train you • Journal clubs, group meetings, ability to go to meetings • Lab has important collaborations • Facilities are highly interactive (e.g. the LSC)
  17. 17. Communication skills, interpersonal/leadership abilities (20%) What are they looking for? A. Communication skills 1. Presentation of the application—grammar, spelling, clear writing. 2. Awards for oral presentations or papers 3. Statements in reference letters indicating that you have excellent verbal and written skills B. Interpersonal/leadership skills (“interactions”) 1. Mentoring/teaching. •Indicate that you have trained others in the lab, have been a TA or tutor. 2. Other examples of team leadership, etc. from non-science activities. 3. Statements in reference letters indicating that you a good lab citizen, that you are helpful, contribute to group efforts
  18. 18. Reference letters are critical 1. Must contain detailed, specific examples 2. Sponsor must know you well and be familiar with how you have performed in research or class settings. Who should you sponsors be? 1. Current supervisor--essential (but not enough info if you just joined lab) 2. Previous supervisor(s)--essential 3. Other faculty members who can comment on research/academic abilities ••Cultivate other faculty members as potential sponsors (e.g. thesis committee members) Your sponsors are asked to comment on: 1. Research ability or potential (Thinking, experiments) 2. Oral and written communication skills (Presentations) 3. Interpersonal and leadership abilities (Interactions) Sponsor has to give a rating as well as specific examples of how you have excelled in these areas.
  19. 19. How to get the best recommendation letters? Ask in a professional manner. ••Give your sponsor as much information as possible to use your letter ••Make it easy for them to write a detailed letter. When you request a letter, give your sponsor: 1. Your CV, which lists: a) Previous research experiences (with a brief description of what you did) b) Full citations for any abstracts or papers you are on, with an indication of what your contribution was c) Other relevant activities (attendance at scientific meetings, etc.) 2. Copies of papers or abstracts on which you are an author. 3. A copy of your completed application (or at least your research proposal). ••This will allow sponsor to comment on importance of your project, your abilities to do it, and the nature of your training environment.

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