AVC Summer Research Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I find a project if I don’t know exactly what I want to do?

Refer to the list of faculty and the topics that they will be researching for the summer.

Look at their topics and see if a project interests you for the summer and then contact that faculty member (contact information on the website also). However, you are not limited to the faculty on the list. Any AVC faculty member can supervise a VetSRA student. The only stipulation is that they be full-time tenure track or contract faculty if you are applying to one of the awards on the website (the faculty member will know if this applies to them).

2. What is the difference between VetSRA and NSERC-USRA? (updated January 13, 2022)

The VetSRA is an award only for AVC DVM students supervised by AVC faculty while NSERC USRA is available for eligible students who are doing NSERC-eligible research projects supervised by any UPEI faculty. Generally, eligibility for USRA is limited to Canadian citizens while VetSRA is available to any AVC DVM student, including non-Canadian citizens. It is rare to have a veterinary project that is ineligible for NSERC USRA eligibility.

NSERC USRA is administered by UPEI Research Services and is a 16 week research employment opportunity. In previous years, this was administered in such a manner that VetSRA and USRA applications were merged into one process for veterinary students. In January, 2022, changes to the administration of USRA made this unmanageable and now we have two separate processes. If your supervisor agrees to provide the matching funds required for USRA and the project is 16 weeks duration, then you are encouraged to apply to USRA in addition to your application to VetSRA using the same project. For DVM students, the historical success rate in USRA is relatively low and for that reason you are encouraged to apply to both. The VetSRA deadline is earlier and so VetSRA success can be used as a contingency if your USRA application is unsuccessful (see below if you are offered both).

3. If I receive a VetSRA and then find I am successful with the NSERC-USRA, what happens to the VetSRA?  (updated January 13, 2022)

You can apply to both VetSRA and USRA (these are separate applications processes starting in January 2022) and you can use the same project plans. The first notifications of successful VetSRA applications are sent to students earlier than USRA decisions. You can accept the VetSRA while you wait for notifications of USRA. If you are successful on your application to USRA and you decide to accept USRA employment, you must immediately notify VetSRA to cancel your acceptance of VetSRA. You cannot hold both awards in the same summer. USRA students in the DVM program can still participate in SRLP (for applicable credits) and you should indicate your SRLP intentions when you decline VetSRA in favour of USRA.

4. I am torn between 2 interesting projects under 2 different supervisors. Do I have to pick one for the application or can I submit two applications?

You can only apply to VetSRA once in a given year. You should discuss with your potential supervisor to see if they have more than two students requesting their supervision because they are only permitted to supervise two VetSRA funded students. They can have more than two applications submitted listing the same supervisor but only two awards will be granted.

The adjudication is based on the student and not the project (although the project must be adequately described to provide appreciation that the student has carefully considered the research project and can describe their plan and benefit from participating). If the supervisor is listed on more than two applications, it would be best that you and the supervisor identify possible co-supervisors. That way, you can transfer your project to the co-supervisor if more than two students are awarded VetSRAs.

5. What transcripts do I need?

You do not need to submit transcripts. VetSRA administration will obtain academic rankings and will use those to adjudicate your academic performance. If your supervisor is a NSERC-USRA eligible faculty member then at some point you may be asked to submit official university transcripts from all institutions, you attended. We will let you know if and when these are necessary.

6. If I am successful how long do I have to accept the award?

Once you receive your acceptance letter, you should confirm acceptance as soon as possible but definitely within two weeks. If you do not accept the award, we will include the funds for other applications. The longer you delay in confirming, the later other students may receive their offer.

7. When does the VetSRA stipend begin and when does the AVC Summer Research and Leadership Program begin?

The AVC Summer Research and Leadership Program begins on May 16, 2022. Your VetSRA stipend will be arranged as a non-employment agreement that begins on that date. The stipend will be paid in biweekly instalments (i.e., 6 payments) over the 12 weeks of the project. Your supervisor may wish to cover your stipend for a longer period of time (i.e., up to 14-15 weeks). You should discuss the time period with them before accepting the award. If they plan to increase the length of time of the project, they will need to arrange finances with Sherri Pineau (scpineau@upei.ca). This extra time will be covered by the supervisor. UPEI Human Resources will need a social insurance number (not a social security number) and relevant banking information to arrange payment of installments. If you’ve been on the UPEI payroll before and none of your banking information has changed then you will not have to fill out these forms. If you are an international student, Human Resources will require a copy of your student visa. You will receive an email letting you know when and where to submit this information. 

8. Do we get academic credit for this program?

There is a planned one credit elective (equivalent to 1 week) in third year available for students who completed the SRLP during their DVM program. Taking SRLP twice does not earn more than the one credit. Credit is only applicable for students who attend the complete SRLP.

A second elective credit is also available for students who have an approved research project between their SRLP and third year.

Fourth year rotations in research may also be possible with SRLP and third-year electives as prerequisites.

9. How many students get to go to the Boehringer Ingelheim Symposium at University of Minnesota and how are they chosen?

This year, the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium is planned for University of Minnesota. AVC may send some students in-person but only if travel restrictions permit. Early decisions are more likely to favour a virtual conference, as in 2021. All students will be expected to present their posters at a virtual NVS Symposium. The method of selection for which students will attend in-person will be discussed early in the SRLP. Those students attending the symposium are expected to go to all events of the symposium and present their poster.

10. What is the difference between Veterinary Summer Research Award (VetSRA) and AVC Summer Research and Leadership Program (AVC SRLP)?

VetSRA is a stipend awarded to a student to pursue a summer research experience supervised by an AVC faculty member. A stipulation in the VetSRA is that all recipients must participate fully in the SRLP. 

AVC SRLP is the summer research program for students and includes: A) attending mandatory weekly seminars and field trips (see SRLP 2021 Schedule of Activities); B) present a 5 minute presentation to fellow student describing your research project; C) pursue research with your faculty supervisor over a 12 week period; D) produce and present a scientific poster at the AVC SRLP Student Poster Presentations held in late August or early September; E) attend the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium if it is virtual, and present a poster at this symposium; F) if you are selected to attend NVSS in-person, to go to all symposium sessions and present a poster. 

11. Do I have to attend every event in the AVC SRLP?

We expect you to attend all events unless you have a pre-approved reason to be absent. All events will be mandatory including AVC poster presentations and presenting your research project to your peers. For any planned absence you must get permission from your supervisor and SRLP coordinator(s). 

12. If my supervisor declines to include a research plan for an online project or declines to provide the matching funds, can the student still apply with this supervisor?

The recent experiences with COVID-19 have resulted in many changes to research projects. The option of some or all activities moving online will be avoided if possible, but every project should be prepared for online contingencies. If your supervisor refuses to have an online option for the project, you should find another supervisor before submitting an application.

13. Is it possible to do campus-based or field-based research in the summer of 2022?

Yes, if it is compatible with the approved public health restrictions at the time of the project. However, all VetSRA projects must include the option for the entire summer research experience to be executable assuming there are no in-person activities during the VetSRA time period. If the proposal depends on campus or field research without an option for a virtual project, it will not be accepted.

Atlantic Veterinary College

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