Research Q&A

What is the standard procedure for getting a summer research position in Biology at StFX?

  • decide on an area of research interest (or interests)
  • find a research supervisor by talking to a professor (or professors) whose research interests overlap with yours (by mid January)
    Note: this is a requirement – you must have a supervisor to apply for funding
  • apply for an undergraduate research award, due in late January or early February (check the awards information page for the yearly deadline)
    Note: you are not expected to undertake this process alone – your supervisor will help you with the application


  • you can hold a research position during any summer of your degree (particulary after your 2nd, 3rd OR even 4th year)
  • this is not the only way to get or fund a summer research position – there are others
  • awards are not limited to Honours students
  • you need not plan to work for the entire summer to receive an award

What is Research? How do I find out more about it?

Why do research in the first place?

  • it can be great fun
  • it teaches you critical thinking and communication skills that are invaluable in just about ANY career you choose
  • variety: few jobs are as varied as research
  • it will help you get into graduate school
  • it can help you get into medical  school or other professional programs

What can I do to improve my chances of getting into research?

  • show enthusiasm – ask questions in class and after class, do extra reading and talk to your professors
  • show initiative – make appointment(s) with professors to talk about yours and their research interests
  • get good grades
  • check out this very useful guide: doi: 10.1002/bes2.1745
  • get advice on getting into grad school

How can I get my first research experience?

  • talk to professors about research
  • volunteer in a professors lab, helping them or their other students to do research
    Note: volunteering research experience counts just as much as paid research experience
  • get a job as a research assistant to a professor or their honours or masters or PhD students
  • complete a Directed Studies course with a faculty member
  • complete an honours degree – you’ll do research as part of your degree
  • join the co-op program – many co-op jobs involve research
  • look outside the university: many jobs in non-profit organizations and in government (fisheries, environment, etc.) involve research

I need money to survive. What are ways that I can get paid to do research?

  • do an honours degree and get paid to do research during the summer
  • get a summer research assistant job
  • after graduation, get a job as a technician in a professor’s laboratory
  • start a Masters degree – most Masters students in the sciences are paid

How do I improve my chances of getting into graduate school?