Undergraduate Summer Research Internships (USRI)

Information for Faculty of Health Sciences Faculty Members and Students

The Western Undergraduate Summer Research Internships (USRIs) provides undergraduate students with engaged research experiences where they will learn new research methods and techniques alongside faculty mentors. Students will gain much-needed skills that will help prepare them for future careers. Western Research strongly encourages Faculties to consider the diversity of their awardees and provide opportunities for students from under-represented groups, such as but not limited, to Black, Indigenous, students of color, students with disabilities, students who self-identify as LGBTQ2S+, and women as part of the ongoing commitment Western has made for equity, diversity, inclusion (EDI) and Indigenization.

Western Research, in partnership with Student Experience and Western Libraries, is excited to launch the USRI program this summer with a rigorous suite of professional development offerings new this year. The professional development opportunities will complement the engaged research learning project, including sessions on scholarly writing, conducting literature searches and reviews, citation management, using NVivo, publishing best practices, knowledge exchange, equity, diversity, inclusion and decolonization (EDID) and much more. At the end of the summer, students will be expected to share their research with the broader community during a virtual exhibition event.

Program Objectives and Outcomes

The USRI program was launched in 2020 as a pilot program, and the summer of 2021 brings an expanded vision for the USRI program at Western. A broad and collaborative effort across several institutional portfolios, this program seeks to provide undergraduate students with first- hand experience in undertaking an exciting research project under the direction of a qualified faculty mentor/supervisor.

Student Objectives

  • Co-develop and execute a short-term research project with a Faculty mentor to be completed in the 16-week program time frame
  • Co-develop a learning and development plan with a Faculty mentor based on institutional and individual needs
  • Develop and produce a multimodal research output oriented to lay audiences
  • Output will be stored in Western’s Institutional Repository Scholarship@Western
  • Students will select the most appropriate format for their research output based on their summer research project
    • Options include infographic, poster or other visual representation, blog, podcast, short video etc.
    • Research outputs will be shared during the end of summer virtual exhibition event (details will be shared during the internship)
  • Participate in a minimum of four professional development workshops that will aid in the creation of their research output and will support the summer research experience. This will be based on individual learning plans.
  • Participation in program evaluation (short intake and end of internship activities as well as short interim feedback in the form of an e-portfolio) is a condition of funding.

Faculty Mentor/Supervisor Objectives

  • Participate in a summer research program providing mentorship for an undergraduate student that will further enhance research goals and the student’s research skills
  • Participation in program evaluation (short intake and end of internship forms -- details to follow) is a condition of funding
  • Participate in at least one EDID workshop presented by Nicole Kaniki, Special Advisor to the President on Anti-Racism

Program Outcomes

  • Provide a comprehensive and supported undergraduate student research experience
  • Increase undergraduate student confidence in fields of interest
  • Pave the way to graduate study and future research careers
  • Opportunities for undergraduate students to expand their networks, enhance their student experience, and connect with other student researchers and members of the Western research community
  • Help defray the costs in supporting undergraduate student research work
  • Advance research, scholarship and creativity across Western

Value and Duration of Award

USRIs are valued at a minimum of $7,500 for a 16-week term through May to August 2021. Western will contribute $6,000 toward each Summer Internship with a required minimum match of $1,500 from other sources. Supervisors are strongly encouraged to provide all or a portion of the minimum matching funds. FHS will contribute to matching funds on a case-by-case basis.

Students are only allowed to hold one USRI for the summer.

Faculty Allocation

FHS has been allocated 43 USRIs for 2021. Note that there will not be a separate allocation for cross-faculty applications, i.e., undergraduate students from a Faculty outside of FHS count as part of the FHS allocation.

Supervisor and Student Eligibility


  • The lead supervisor must hold a research-eligible appointment at Western and a primary or joint appointment to FHS.
    • Faculty members who hold a primary appointment in another Faculty at Western must apply via the USRI program of their home Faculty.
    • Co-supervision is acceptable under this program and co-supervisors do not need to hold a research-eligible appointment in FHS.
  • Participation in program evaluation (short intake and end of internship forms -- details to follow) is a condition of funding.
  • Participation in at least one EDID workshop presented by Nicole Kaniki, Special Advisor to the President on Anti-Racism is recommended.
  • Participation in end-of-summer virtual student exhibition is encouraged.


  • Faculties are encouraged to give preference in their adjudication of applications from under-represented, economically disadvantaged and first-generation students.
  • Students must have been enrolled at Western in an undergraduate program in Winter 2021.
    • Preference will be given to students planning to return to Western in Fall 2021 as an undergraduate or graduate student.
  • Students must be available to participate in research activity as described in the proposal for 16 weeks between May 1 and August 31, 2021.
    • Specific dates of research engagement to be determined collaboratively with the faculty supervisor through the individual learning plan.
  • Participation in program evaluation (short intake and end of internship activities as well as short interim feedback -- details to follow) is a condition of funding.
  • Participation in program objectives is also a condition of the funding.

Key Dates

April 1: Program launch and first day for FHS faculty members to post opportunities (optional)
April 16: Deadline to submit applications to FHS at fhsresearch@uwo.ca
April 27: Notifications of FHS USRI awards
April 29: Deadline to accept FHS USRI offers
May 3: FHS provides USRI list to Western Research
May: Start of Internships
Monthly: FHS provides updated list of continuing interns
August: End of Internships

Professional Development for Students and Supervisors

A syllabus will be provided by Student Experience to be distributed to successful USRIs. Students will be expected to attend a minimum of four workshops throughout the summer from the suite of offerings below. Workshops should complement their learning plan and contribute towards the successful completion of the research output.

A workshop focused on equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization will be available for supervisors.

Workshop details will be finalized and provided by the end of April on this site (Suggestions for workshops are welcome): https://www.uwo.ca/research/funding/students/usri.html

Workshops confirmed

Western Research

  • EDID (Nicole Kaniki)
    • For undergraduate students
    • For Supervisors
    • How to write a compelling and unbiased recommendation letter
  • Knowledge Mobilization (Mariam Hayward)
  • Creating effective research posters (Mariam Hayward)

Western Libraries

  • Intro to Lit searching
  • Citation Management
  • Intro to data handling with Excel.
  • Using research software (e.g., NVivo, SPSS)
  • Introduction to data scraping
  • Information privilege
  • Demystifying publishing
  • Copyright, how to use material, info, media etc. properly in presentations and papers
  • Introduction to GIS

Student Experience

  • Will be offering workshops throughout the summer

Workshops unconfirmed

  • Science communication and social media
  • 3MT and why is it so important
  • Scholarly Writing (check with Writing Support Centre)

Undergraduate students working through other summer research opportunities offered at
Western are welcome to register for any USRI workshops being offered.

Applying for a USRI

Information for Supervisors

1. Supervisors Identify a Student:

  • Prospective supervisors are required to apply with an undergraduate student.
  • FHS supervisors who are seeking a student co-applicant have the option of soliciting expressions of interest from prospective students by posting a brief description of the proposed project and preferred skills through this online form.
  • Those opportunities will be available for interested students to view in an online spreadsheet.
    • See below in 'Information for Students' for more information.

2. Supervisor-Student Teams Develop and Submit a Proposal:

  • Research activity plans must adhere to current Western University guidance on research activities - https://www.uwo.ca/research/covid19_updates.html
  • All research proposals involving ethics (human participants) and/or animal subjects must be approved by the appropriate Western certification committee.
    • It is the faculty supervisor’s responsibility to ensure any disclosure of research output is within the bounds of their approved ethics.
  • Applicants must complete the FHS Supervisor-Student Proposal Form
    • Applications must be submitted by the Supervisor to fhsresearch@uwo.ca by Friday, April 16 at noon.

Information for Students

  • Students interested in participating in the program must have a prospective supervisor with whom they will submit a joint proposal.
  • Students who do not have a prospective supervisor can express interest by viewing opportunities in this online spreadsheet and connecting with the supervisor via the email address indicated in the posting.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have a student at another institution who would like to work with me this summer. Is this student eligible to apply?

USRIs are reserved for students registered in an undergraduate program at Western in 2021. Preference will be given to students who are planning to return to Western in the Fall 2021 semester whether as an undergraduate student or graduate student.

I have a 4th-year student who would like to apply for this opportunity. Would they be eligible?

Yes, although preference will be given to students who expect to enroll in the Fall 2021 semester.

Will students be taxed on this funding

The award is a fellowship and will be reported to the student on a T4A tax slip (non- employment income) at the end of 2021. There are no statutory deductions required to be withheld from the payments.

Will students be able to come to campus to do research?

The health and safety of our campus is a shared responsibility. We must take thoughtful and persistent steps to take care of ourselves, each other, and our community. Before coming on campus and while you are on campus, you are required to review the videos and follow the steps outlined on www.uwo.ca/coronavirus/faculty-staff.html which will be updated regularly as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.

Please also check for updates here: https://www.uwo.ca/research/covid19_updates.html

What is an individual learning plan?

A syllabus outlining the program requirements and goals for the summer will encourage students to think about how to integrate what they learn in the workshops into their research output. A learning plan will establish an agreement between the student and faculty supervisor concerning expectations of research activity, attendance, communication, and the final research output.

Can a faculty supervisor oversee more than one USRI award?

Yes, a supervisor can oversee more than one student or USRI project during the summer program.

Can a student hold more than one USRI award?

An undergraduate student can only hold one USRI award during the summer. However, the program welcomes returning students who participated in 2020.