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This Week in Research: NSERC Discovery Grant Fall Speaker Series

As part of its continuing strategy to engage faculty and improve upon research success at Laurentian University, this past fall, the Office of Research Services hosted a series of 3 speakers, who are currently, or have previously, served on NSERC Discovery Grant review panels.

On September 23rd, we were pleased to host Dr. Brian Branfireun from the University of Western Ontario, who has been a previous member of the Geosciences panel at NSERC.  Dr. Branfireun spoke to Laurentian faculty about the Discovery Grant application and review process, and provided a very structured and detailed overview of how decisions are made when it comes to funding grants.

Dr. Brian Ingalls, from the University of Waterloo, visited on September 30th.  Dr. Ingalls’ experience was on the “Genes, Cells, and Molecules” review panel and he focused his presentation of the NSERC evaluation grid used to by adjudication committees.    

Finally, Dr. Chris Pim, from the University of Western Ontario, visited Laurentian on October 7th, where he engaged in a more in depth conversation with attendees, and was able to answer specific questions about how to properly format a Discovery Grant application in order to maximize the chances of success.

Throughout all three of these strategy sessions, Laurentian faculty were given the opportunity to engage with actual review panel members, an opportunity that is not afforded to most people who apply to the competition.  All three speakers shared critical advice on what to include or exclude in an application in order to improve the chances of success, how to make sure your grant application lands at the proper review panel, and also fielded specific questions from the Laurentian faculty who were in attendance.

The sessions were chaired by Dr. Thomas Merritt, who is the NSERC Tri-Council leader at Laurentian University.  According to Thomas, “The NSERC Speaker program had two objectives. Our main objective was to bring NSERC-Funded researchers with NSERC Discovery Evaluation Panel experience to LU to talk with LU researchers applying to the NSERC Discovery Program about the evaluation process and strategies for effective proposal writing. These speakers brought valuable "outside" voices and perspectives to LU and gave us their personal impressions of what it takes to write successful applications. While the researchers were here at LU, we also invited them to speak about their research. This second aim gave LU researchers and students an opportunity to hear about, and discuss, current research from across Ontario in a variety of topics and from the perspective of researchers that are also dedicating substantial amounts of time to reviewing and evaluating grant proposals from across Canada.”   

In addition to hosting speakers from outside Laurentian, an “11th hour” strategy session was also held, in order to answer any remaining questions that faculty had regarding their Discovery Grants.  Over light refreshments, Dr. Merritt spoke with those in attendance to quell any remaining doubts about what they should and shouldn’t include in their grant applications.

For the November 1st deadline, Laurentian University was able to submit 24 Discovery Grant applications, 4 more than last year.  While the results won’t be available until early next April, the ORS is confident that due to the ongoing commitment and hard work from our researchers, we will continue to enjoy increasing success with this funding program.

Good luck to everyone who applied!