Students work in an environmental science lab.
Thursday, January 11 - 2018
Shelley Romoff

In the race to attract top graduate candidates, the first step to landing a future star is spotting one. Two new funding programs are designed to do just that, at the same time further positioning U of T Scarborough’s PhD program as one of the focal points for environmental research in Canada.

The Travel Awards program will cover expenses up to $1,000 for applicants to the PhD program, providing candidates the chance to visit the campus and the department prior to making their final decision on where they want to study. “That’s important because our PhD candidates will call one of our labs their home for several years,” says Professor George Arhonditsis, chair of the Department of Physical & Environmental Sciences at U of T Scarborough. Face-to-face contact also gives the program a way to assess what might not be clearly communicated on written applications and resumes. 

"We want graduate students who have a sense of purpose, and a willingness to take a few risks to do something interesting,” Arhonditsis adds. “In my experience, a promising young scientist will sound like one.”

This grant will be made available to as many as 10 exceptional domestic and international applicants every year.

Another new program—this one supporting current PhD students—is also expected to attract students who are the cream of the crop by offering an out of the box opportunity. The International Partnership Fund provides funding for PhD students who excel in research to work on aspects of their dissertation at another high-profile university or research institute. This initiative is a unique way for U of T Scarborough students to augment their technical skills, cultivate their professional network, and promote their research careers. The program supports four PhD students annually with up to $5,000 to travel and work on their research abroad or elsewhere in Canada.

Applicants for this fund will submit a brief proposal articulating the research activity that will be conducted with the support of the award, including the benefits to be gained in the new location, the involvement of prospective host institution collaborators, and how project success will be measured. The deadline for proposal submissions for the inaugural round is February 28, 2018.

Criteria for the award include the novelty of the proposal, the significance of the proposed research for the completion of the proponent’s dissertation, and the applicant’s academic record including peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations, leadership in the corresponding field of study and other awards received. Special weight will be given to proponents who have already published on aspects of their doctoral research.

“Faculty at top-ranked research universities like U of T have an unbelievable opportunity to work with enthusiastic young scientists,” says Arhonditsis. “We work with graduate students who are smart, promising and intellectually mature. These initiatives give us ways to identify and support our future research leaders.”