Awards and Research Opportunities


Academic Awards

There are a number of awards given to students of high scholastic achievement.  For types of awards, criteria and websites go to the Western Science website.

Donald B. McMillan Honours Thesis Award in Biology

Awarded annually to the fourth year student in an Honours Specialization in Biology who presents the best honours thesis during the Annual Thesis Day presentation held each April. A committee in the Department of Biology will evaluate the final thesis submissions and grant the award based on their selection of the best thesis. This award was established with a generous gift from Lone Jensen in memory of her husband Dr. Donald B. McMillan (MSc 1953).

Value: 1 at $5,000

Effective Date: 2023-2024 academic year

Donald McMillan earned his PhD from the University of Toronto and taught in the Department of Zoology at Western University until his retirement in 1994. During his time at Western, he was a mentor and friend to both students and colleagues. He loved teaching and inspired many young students to make science their life’s work. Besides contributing many publications with his students in prominent journals, Donald published two books: Fish Histology, Female Reproductive Systems and an Atlas of Comparative Vertebrate Histology (co-authored by Richard Harris). In addition to vertebrates, Don’s passions included Bach, opera, cycling, the glories of the natural world, and his cottage by the Fundy shore in Back Bay, New Brunswick.

Research Opportunities

There are a number of ways that undergraduates can get the first-hand experience of being part of a research program. The first step is to make contact with a research professor or adjunct faculty member whose research program is of interest. Send them an email inquiring about possible openings. Here are the most common ways students secure research positions.

NSERC USRA program

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) oversees the Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) program.  These competitive awards are meant to stimulate interest in research in the natural sciences and engineering. They are tenable at any Canadian University and have a value of $6,000 for a 16-week summer term with additional funds supplied from the research supervisor.

Further information can be found on the NSERC-USRA website.

Procedures and deadlines differ depending upon the institution and department the award will be tenable so it's important to inquire in September for an award the following summer. For awards to be tenable at Western please contact Beata Malczewski (

The departmental deadline to apply for a Summer 2024 NSERC USRA got extended to Friday, Feb 9th, 2024 at 4:00pm. 

Information and procedures for this year's competition are listed below:


The Western Undergraduate Summer Research Internship (USRIs) was originally launched in 2020 as a pilot program. This program will be offered in 2024, and the departmental deadline to apply for a Summer 2024 USRI is Friday, February 9th, 2024 at 4:00pm. The first step is to make contact with a research professor or adjunct faculty member whose research program is of interest.

Overview of the program, information and procedures from last year's competitions are listed below:

Science Internship

The Science/BMSc Internship Program aims to provide 8, 12, or 16 months of practical science-related experience in an employment setting. All students enrolled in the 3rd year of a 4-year undergraduate Science or Basic Medical Science Honors Specialization, Specialization, or in a Major + Major combination (where at least one of the Majors is in Science or Basic Medical Science), or students who are enrolled in the 3rd year of a 4-year BSc or BSc (Honours) program are eligible to enroll in the Science Internship Program, if they satisfy the eligibility requirements.

For further information, visit the Faculty of Science website.


Volunteering: Great way to expand your skill sets, gain experience and give one’s self possible career opportunities.

For information, visit the Student Experience website.

Work Study

Western’s Work Study program offers an opportunity for students to work part-time on campus in jobs that accommodate their studies. The objectives of the Work Study program are to assist students in financial need with a regular source of income that does not add to their debt load, offer students training and experience that will assist them in further studies and their eventual entrance into the workforce, and to help staff and faculty.

For further information visit the Office of the Registrar website.

Undergraduate Award Winners