Trainee Application Guidelines

The $1.65 million six year NSERC CREATE Biological Information Processing (BIP) program ended March 31, 2018, and is no longer funding trainees.

The NSERC CREATE – Biological Information Processing (BIP) program supports the training of teams of highly qualified students and postdoctoral fellows from Canada and abroad through the development of an innovative training program that includes the acquisition and development of important professional skills that complement their qualifications and technical skills.

This program offers training to undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Our vision is to conjoin cell biology, dynamic neuroimaging, and computational methods. It allows trainees to acquire a state-of-the-art tool kit that contains methods from three domains: tools for seeing intracellular molecular processes, for measuring activity of large distributed networks of cells, and for computation as it applies to both signal processing and cellular systems theoretical modeling.

Together with our partners at universities in the United States and Europe and with several private industry partners, our program offers opportunities to learn about science entrepreneurship, science policy development, and partnerships with health providers and private industry.

Eligibility

Exceptional University of Lethbridge undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students (as well as post-doctoral fellows) with a background that includes some combination of neuroscience, cell biology, imaging science, physiology, biochemistry and/or computation are eligible to apply.

Terms and Value

CREATE trainees do not have to receive CREATE stipends to be considered participants in this initiative. If they have been approved as CREATE trainees, they can fully benefit from the unique aspects of the CREATE training program that distinguishes it from a regular research experience.

Students holding NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships, Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships or other federal granting agency graduate scholarships are encouraged to participate in this training program, even though they might not receive a stipend from CREATE during tenure of their other scholarships.

Postdoctoral Fellows:

Postdoctoral fellows may be supported, but the emphasis of this program is on a training experience for graduate students. Postdoctoral fellows must have completed their doctoral degree within the last five years to be eligible to participate in the CREATE program. Parental leave taken for child bearing and rearing is not counted as part of the five-year period.

The stipend is a minimum of $45,000/year ($40,000 from CREATE; $5,000 from the trainee’s mentor) for a maximum of two years (one year plus one renewal). Requests for extensions after two years of support will only be considered in very exceptional circumstances, and must be offered up front to the candidate and reported to NSERC with a written justification within one month of the offer being accepted.

Doctoral (PhD) Fellowships:

To be considered for a CREATE PhD Fellowship, students must first apply to and be accepted by the University of Lethbridge School of Graduate Studies.

The stipend is $27,000/year for a minimum of 2 semesters, and maximum of 3 years.

Master’s (MSc) Scholarships:

To be considered for a CREATE MSc Scholarship, students must first apply to and be accepted by the University of Lethbridge School of Graduate Studies.

The stipend is $19,500/year for a minimum of 2 semesters, and normally, a maximum of 2 years.

Undergraduate Scholarships:

Undergraduate students may be supported and integrated into the training program as potential future graduate students, but the research training experience is focussed on providing an enriched training experience for graduate students. Undergraduate trainees should be highly qualified students who intend to pursue their studies at the graduate level.

To be considered for a CREATE Undergraduate Scholarship, students must first apply to and be accepted by the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Arts & Science.

Undergraduate student(s) will be selected through a competition to spend the summer months doing a rotation involving a dynamic imaging project and a cell biology project. The stipend is $1,400 per month for a minimum of two months during the summer. Mentors may provide additional funding.

High School Scholarships:

One Grade 11 high school student will be selected through a competition to spend the summer months doing a rotation involving a dynamic imaging project and a cell biology project. Mentors will provide a stipend of $14.00 per hour for a minimum of 6 weeks during July and August. High school student salaries are not an eligible CREATE expense.

Application Procedure

Applications are accepted year round. There are no application deadlines.

For graduate students, acceptance into the BIP program is contingent upon acceptance to the School of Graduate Studies. Graduate students are encouraged to apply to the University of Lethbridge School of Graduate Studies, and the NSERC CREATE BIP program simultaneously. Please contact Graduate Studies for their application deadlines. Normally, February 1st is the MA, MSc, and PhD Graduate Studies application deadline for Fall entry, and October 1st is the MA, MSc, and PhD Graduate Studies application deadline for Spring entry.

All CREATE BIP applications must include the following, which should be emailed to the NSERC CREATE BIP Program Director:

  • applicant’s up-to-date curriculum vita or resume
  • applicant’s 1-2 page letter outlining their research interests and training goals, and detailing how their interests and goals fit with the CREATE BIP program goals, or for high school students or undergraduates, a 1-2 page letter outlining their research interests and personal educational and career goals, and detailing how their interests and goals fit with the CREATE BIP program goals
  • two to three letters of reference (1-2 pages each) outlining the applicant’s research potential and academic record, or for high school students, a 1-2 page letter from a Science teacher noting the student’s interest, motivation and achievement in the field of Science
  • supervisor’s/proposed mentor’s 1-2 page letter detailing their support and commitment, outlining the trainee’s specific training goals, explaining how these goals relate to the CREATE training program objectives, explaining how the trainee would benefit from this training program, and explaining how the trainee’s qualifications have prepared them to take part in this training program
  • applicant’s up-to-date transcripts, or for Postdoctoral Fellowship applicants, evidence of obtaining their PhD
  • evidence of other funding support (e.g. NSERC, CIHR, Alberta Ingenuity, School of Graduate Studies, and/or supervisor/proposed mentor)

The Program Director will email complete applications to the Executive Committee for their review, and will notify applicants by email of the Executive Committee’s decision. Normally this occurs within one month of the Program Director receiving the complete application. The Executive Committee will select trainees based on grades in courses relevant to core areas (cell biology, dynamic imaging and neural computation), breadth of background related to core areas, quality of the letters of reference, and strength of support and commitment from their proposed mentor.

All decisions are final and cannot be appealed. The number of applications funded is dependent upon the availability of funds.

Reporting

Trainees must maintain satisfactory academic progress to remain in the program, and must submit a copy of their Fall, and Spring Graduate Studies Statement of Progress & Standing forms, so the CREATE Executive Committee can review their progress.

Trainees, mentors and others involved are expected to acknowledge the NSERC CREATE BIP Trainee Award in any abstracts, publications, conference proceedings, or other dissemination of information resulting from this award.

Questions

If you are interested in applying to this program and require further information, please contact Margaret McKeen, Program Director at (403) 394-3928 or mckeen@uleth.ca.