Faculty of Science Undergraduate Research Awards

The Faculty of Science at UVic also offers a number of undergraduate research awards for students who wish to participate in research project on campus under the direction of a faculty member in the Departments of Biochemistry & Microbiology, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics & Statistics, Phyiscs & Astronomy, and the School of Earth & Ocean Sciences.

Where do I find information about SURAs and SERAs?

SURA (Science Undergraduate Research Award)
There are six Faculty of Science SURA awards (one selected by each Science department).  One additional award is available to a self-declared Canadian or International Indigenous student.
These awards provide $4,000 from the Faculty of Science plus a minimum of $4,000 from the research supervisor.  

SERA (Science Emerging Researcher Award)
There are six Faculty of Science SERA awards (one selected by each Science department).  These awards provide $5,500 from the Faculty of Science plus a minimum of $4,500 from the research supervisor for students with emphasis on supporting members of a group with historical and/or current barriers to equity, including but not limited to:
•First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, and all other Indigenous peoples;
•members of groups that currently or historically experience discrimination due to race, ancestry, colour, religion and/or spiritual beliefs, or place of origin;
•persons with visible and/or invisible (physical and/or mental) disabilities;
•persons who identify as women; and
•persons of marginalized sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.

How do I apply for a SURA or SERA?

To be eligible for a SURA or a SERA tenable within the Department of Physics & Astronomy, a student, at the time of application, must:
- be registered as a full-time student in a bachelor's degree in the Faculty of Science at the University of Victoria in the current Winter Session (Sep - Apr),
- have completed at least 30 units of course credits toward a B.Sc. degree by the end of the Fall term prior to submitting an application,
- intend to continue full-time undergraduate studies in the term immediately following the research project,
- have a cumulative GPA of 6.0 or higher for all courses completed at the time of application.

It is expected that undergraduate students holding an award would use the award to work full-time on a research project for a term of 14-16 consecutive weeks over one academic term, prior to continuing undergraduate studies in a subsequent term. A student may take up the award in the Summer (May-Aug), Fall (Sep-Dec), or Winter (Jan-Apr) term, as agreed between the student and their supervisor. The awards are not intended to support a student performing research on a part-time basis, or for research performed outside the term during which the student is to be engaged in their research project.

To apply for a SURA or a SERA, students must complete Parts IA and 1B of an application form (no handwritten applications will be accepted).  Please note that SERA applicants must also arrange to have a letter of support by a STEM faculty member sent on their behalf to the Office of the Dean of Science. 
*The list of projects availabe for both SURA and SERA awards are the same as those listed for NSERC USRAs.

The deadline for applying is Monday, February 7, 2022
Please direct applications/letters of support to:
Susan Gnucci
Administrative Officer
Department of Physics & Astronomy
University of Victoria





Sample project descriptions from prior years

Project Title: Design and Construction of an Optical Phase-Locked Loop
Project Supervisor:  Andrew MacRae
The proposed project will be to develop a laser stabilization system for use in quatum optics experiments.  In the near future, our lab is aiming to develop a new source of an exotic state of light known as "a squeezed state", with the motivation of overcoming some long standing barriers in precision measurement.  In order to produce these sqeezed states, we require two separate lasers to oscillate perfectly in step as they pass through a cloud of freely floating atoms.  Since lasers will naturally drift in frequency, this needs to be accomplished by active stabilization -- a so-called "Optical Phased Locked Loop".  Such a circuit monitors the difference in the output frequency of the lasers and provides a corrective mechanism to one of them, so that they will always be oscillating together (i.e. in-phase).  The main challenge with this project is to build a feedback control circuit which monitors the frequency difference and provides the relevant feedback.  The design, construction, and implementation of this feedback system is the goal of this project.

Project Title:  Belle II Experiment: Particle Physics Analysis
Project Supervisor:  J.M. Roney

Belle II is a particle physics detector is collecting electron-positron collision data from the SuperKEKB collider in Japan. It will perform precision measurements in the quark and lepton sectors of the Standard Model to search for new fundamental physical processes. The energy and momentum of particles produced in the collisions are measured in several subsystems of Belle II.  With collision data collected from SuperKEKB, the student will contribute to the analysis of data on the tau lepton and measurements related to tau spin polarization.

Project Title:  Online Visulaization Software for teh EGSnrc Monte Carlo Particle Transport Code
Supervisor:  Magdalena Bazalova-Carter
The EGSnrc Monte Carlo (MC) code is a well-used MC code in medical physics applications.  The manuals of two main MC codes, BEAMnrc and DOSXYZnrc have so far received 1300 citations in the last 15 years.  While both codes are widely used, their visualization part could be significantly improved and it is the topic of the proposed project.  The goal is to interface the Fortran-written codes with a web browzer-based 3D visualization in collaboration with Ottawa's National Research Council (NRC).  First, all the EGSnrc tools will be extended to output data and graphs as plotly.js HTML pages and/or amthplotlib to read and write phase space files will be writtn, that will perform everything that current statdose and beamdp programs can achieve.  Then y relatively simple analysis routines will be written (which can be translated from the existing Mortran code) and output routines to create poltly graphs.  Moreover, this could be used with any phase space file; not only EGSnrc data (month 2-3).  The outcomes of the project will be extremely useful for researchers interested in EGSnrc Monte Carlo particle transport, as they will be able to visualize their MC setup as well as results in a convenient fashion in a web browser, which has been a small roadblock for the use of the EGSnrc in the past.

Project Title:  Online Visualization Software for the EGSnrc Monte Carlo Particle Transport Code
Supervisor:  Magadalena Bazalova-Carter
The EGSnrc Monte Carlo (MC) code is a well used MC code in medical physics applications. The manuals of two main MC codes, BEAMnrc and DOSXYZnrc, have so far received 1300 citations in the last 15 years. While both codes are widely used, their visualization part could be significantly improved and it is the topic of the proposed project.
The goal is to interface the Fortran-written codes with a web browser based 3D visualization in collaboration with Ottawa's National Research Council (NRC).
First, all the EGSnrc tools will be extended to output data and graphs as plotly.js HTML pages and/or mathplotlib python code, which can plotted in a browser and would prove useful immediately (month 1 ). Second, python scripts to read and write phase space files will be written, that will perform everything that current statdose and beamdp programs can achieve. Then y relatively simple analysis routines will be written (which can be translated from the existing Mortran code) and output routines to create plotly graphs. Moreover, this could be used with any phase space file; not only EGSnrc data (month 2-3).
The outcomes of the project will be extremely useful for researchers interested in EGSNrc Monte Carlo particle transport, as they will be able to visualize their MC setup as well as results in a convenient fashion in a web browser, which has been a small roadblock for the use of the EGSnrc in the past.

Project Title: Structures in the Halo of the Milky Way
Supervisor:  Dr. Julio Navarro
The student will work on a project aimed at characterizing the stellar halo of the Milky Way that appears as “foreground” point sources in the Next Generation Virgo Cluster Survey. This is a state-of-the-art optical survey carried out by an international team of astronomers at HIA-NRC, who have kindly shared the data with us for this project. The student will analyze color-magnitude diagrams of stars, and will assign distances to them probabilistically in order to explore the structure of the stellar halo in the direction of the Virgo Cluster. Main tasks include firming up details of the identification of the Sagittarius Stream on NGVS data, including a characterization of distance gradients within the survey, and of potential bifurcations in the stream, as well as deriving an estimate of the slope of the stellar halo density profile. We expect to submit a publication to a major astronomical journal when this project is completed.

Project Title: Pixel Adhesive Project
Supervisor:  Justin Albert
ATLAS at the CERN LHC is a large general-purpose particle detector.  The innermost subdetector is the pixel detector, which operates in an intensely high radiation and high interaction environment.  The pixel detector is exposed to ~2 kW of heat input, however, the pixels and onboard electronics must be kept at a stable - 20 degrees Celcius operating temperature to avoid damage and large temperature-dependent calibration variations.  The amount of support material and refrigerant in the pixel detector must be minimized in order to avoid excessive scattering of the charged particle tracks.  The bottleneck in heat transfer within the pixel detector is the adhesive used to mount the pixels and electronics onto the carbon fibre support frame.  The student will investigate the addition of sodium metasilicate to the ATLAS pixel epoxy to attempt to improve thermal conductivity, without impacting adhesive properties or radiation hardness.  The student will test the thermal conductivity of epoxy + sodium metasilicate mixtures using a thermal camera, and the adhesion strength using weights.  If the results are promising, radiation tests will be performed on the new candidate adhesives at TRIUMF late this summer.