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NSERC’s vision is to provide financial support to students. Photo: Amitesh Malhotra.

Council will contribute $515 million in support of fundamental research

On September 8, 2017, minister of science Kirsty Duncan announced that the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) 2017 competition for the Discovery of Grants program, scholarships and fellowships will be contributing $515 million in support of fundamental research—their largest annual investment to date.

The NSERC for Canada is an organization that invests in scientists and engineers who are conducting research in their postsecondary or postdoctoral careers.

NSERC’s vision is to provide financial support to students in the hopes of new discoveries and innovative ideas to help advance the fields of science and engineering.

Among the contributions, $376 million will go towards NSERC’s Discovery Grants Program to foster long-term research and in the science and engineering disciplines. An investment of $86 million will support the Scholarship and Fellowships for emerging scientists and engineers at graduate and postdoctoral levels to help them in their early stages of research.

According to the organization, $36 million will go towards Research Tools and Instruments Grants to purchase new research equipment. The program will also include $15 million in support of the Discovery Accelerator Supplements Program will go to selected researchers to accelerate the progress of their promising research. Lastly, 54 researchers at small universities will receive Discovery Development Grants of around $1 million to support their on-going research.

“I think it is great that the government is supporting students that are trying to better their careers,” said Sebastian Grasso, a fourth-year science student at the University of Ottawa.

Grasso believes that this is especially important “for people that are not able to afford full funding. It gives them better opportunities and allows them to make connections that may not be there for them already.”

While the NSERC’s focus is on science and engineering, other federal bodies such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) provide federal grants to students in a wide range of disciplines.

Sarah Bader, communications advisor for NSERC, encourages students from different disciplines to apply to these various sources of funding. “The grants are for a much broader umbrella than just engineering and science students, for example we encourage students in the humanities to apply for the SSHRC grant,” said Bader, who believes that with the availability of NSERC funding, the SSHRC, and CIHR, students will be better able to succeed in their academic goals and achievements.

More information about various funding and research opportunities for science and engineering disciplines can be found on the NSERC website.