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NSERC/FRQNT – Chairs for Inclusion in Science and Engineering

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On this page, the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT) refers to the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies sector (FRQ).

Overview

Overview
Region The current call is for applications for teams of three from the province of Quebec. There will be one successful team.
Duration Five-year grant, may be renewable (see below)
Application deadline December 2, 2024 (notification of intent)
March 3, 2025 (full application)
Week of May 12, 2025 (interviews with the selection committee for teams that are shortlisted based on the review of the full applications)
Chairs start date September 1, 2025
How to apply See below
Application form for notice of intent
Application forms for full application
Contacts See below
Chairholders
For more information
  • The Selection Committee Guide for the Chairs for Inclusion in Science and Engineering (CISE) program will be available later.

Description

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT) are acting on the evidence that achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and respond to local, national and global challenges. 

The goal of the Chairs for Inclusion in Science and Engineering (CISE) program is to support teams of natural sciences and engineering (NSE) researchers across Canada who contribute to a culture of inclusion in the NSE by catalyzing networks of supporters of this work, promoting equity and inclusion in the research ecosystem, and undertaking activities to enhance awareness and understanding of barriers and inequities faced by members of underrepresented groups in these fields.

Underrepresented groups include, but are not limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis), persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities/racialized groups and members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities. Intersectionality among these groups as well as with other dimensions must also be considered. Teams are responsible for proposing initiatives that are most relevant to the issues within their region.

The CISE program builds on the successful Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE) program, continuing to promote the participation and retention of women in science and engineering while expanding to further address issues faced by a broader range of underrepresented groups.

The CISE program currently funds a team of CISE Chairs in the Atlantic region. NSERC is now launching a competition in the province of Quebec, in partnership with FRQNT, to replace the outgoing CWSE Chair with a team of three CISE Chairs at different universities across Quebec. Interested candidates must form a team of three applicants from three different universities and submit one application together. Only one team will be selected. Each member of the team will hold a CISE Chair for a total of three Chairs.


Objectives of the CISE program

For Canada to have a high-calibre research environment and to be competitive on a global scale, it is essential to ensure the full participation of all talented individuals to establish a culture of innovation and excellence in research. To this end, the objectives of the CISE program are to:

  • provide chairholders with the capacity and platform to undertake activities that promote cultural change in the research ecosystem by promoting the participation and retention of members of underrepresented groups in the natural sciences and engineering
  • enhance understanding and awareness of inequities and barriers to the participation and retention of members of underrepresented groups in natural sciences and engineering disciplines
  • stimulate collaborations and partnerships among relevant stakeholders
  • provide diverse role models of researchers in science and engineering

Objectives of the CISE chairholders

The CISE chairholders, working as a team, have the flexibility to employ various strategies such as the following to contribute to the overall objectives of the program:

  • Acting as catalysts and role models in science and engineering within their institutions and regions, as well as nationally through the national network, in championing cultural change and conducting activities to promote the participation and retention of members of underrepresented groups in natural science and engineering disciplines
  • Engaging in supporting partnerships, collaborations and collective strategies with CISE and CWSE chairholders and relevant stakeholders to amplify the impact of the program and to create/develop sustainable networks
  • In collaboration with social scientists, conducting, sharing and/or promoting research that enhances the understanding and awareness of, and identifies promising strategies to address barriers and inequities faced by members of underrepresented groups in natural science and engineering disciplines

Eligibility

Composition of the team

  • Candidates must apply as a team of three. One person must be designated as the applicant for administrative purposes only. All team members are expected to contribute equally to the application and proposed activities. All three members of the successful team will be considered Chairs.
  • Team members must be from at least three different NSERC- and FRQNT-eligible universities within Quebec to amplify the impact of the Chairs' program and build a base for networking across the province. There is no limit to the number of applicants that a university can support, and consequently, universities are not required to administer internal selection processes.
  • Each team member must meet NSERC's eligibility criteria and FRQNT’s eligibility criteria to apply for or receive NSERC funding. For FRQNT’s eligibility criteria, please consult the Common General Rules and the list of Managing Institutions.
  • Each team member must be an active NSE researcher. Candidates are considered active in research if they hold funding to support their NSE research.

Proposed activities

  • At least one aspect of the team's proposal must be focused on the participation and retention of women in science and engineering.

Terms of support

Funding

The CISE program for the Quebec region is jointly funded by NSERC and FRQNT. Together, NSERC and FRQNT will contribute an initial $160,000 in project funds per year to be shared by the team. In addition, NSERC and FRQNT will match cash and in-kind contributions from the host universities and supporting organizations up to a maximum of $70,000 per year, for a total of $230,000 in project funds per year for the team. In-kind contributions can consist of staff time, salaries, equipment and any other resources provided by the supporting organizations.

Note: If additional funding commitments are secured after the team has started, NSERC and FRQNT will adjust their level of matching funding up to the maximum total of $70,000. Requests for these additional funds must be supported by a full description of the changes that will result from the additional funding and by a revised budget.

To help the chairholders maintain their research activity at a high level during their tenure as CISE Chairs, NSERC and FRQNT will also match cash contributions of at least $20,000 from each host university with $50,000 to support a postdoctoral fellow (PDF) or research engineer for each team member.

Summary of annual funding amounts for the CISE team

  NSERC/FRQNT contributions University contributions Supporting organization contributions
Initial award amount (project funds) $160K n/a n/a
Matching funds (cash or in-kind) Up to $70K Unlimited1 Unlimited1
PDF/Research engineer support $150K ($50K per Chair) $60K (min $20K per Chair)2 n/a
Total Up to $380K for the team of three Chairs Unlimited Unlimited

Chairs' time allocation

Chairs are expected to contribute up to 50% of their time to the activities of the Chair and the remaining time to their professor/researcher activities at the university. It is expected that each Chair's salary be fully covered by their host university; however, in exceptional circumstances, for small or medium-sized universities that can demonstrate a significant need, awarded NSERC CISE project funds and supporting organization funds may be used to cover a portion of the salary corresponding to the Chair's activities (salary component) for up to $30,000 per Chair. The university will be responsible for any salary increments over the course of the award due to merit, career progression, inflation or any other reason. Applications that contain a salary component must be clearly indicated as such in the summary section of the proposal (see below) and in the proposed budget. In all cases, it is expected that each Chair be released from teaching and administrative tasks in proportion to the stated percentage of time spent on the activities of the Chair.

Supporting organizations

Supporting organizations may include private – or public – sector organizations, universities (other than the host university), communities or individuals.

A CISE application must include a minimum of one supporting organization providing cash and/or in-kind contributions other than the host universities.

Interactions with the supporting organization(s) help to expand the visibility and reach of the Chair and increase awareness of issues surrounding underrepresented groups in natural science and engineering disciplines to sectors beyond academia. Although NSERC encourages interactions between the Chairs and their supporting organizations, formal collaborations are not mandatory.

Specific rules for the use of grant funds

Under this program, the successful team will receive two grants, one from NSERC and the other from the FRQNT.

All expenses charged to CISE moneys for the NSERC grant must abide by the Tri-agency Guide on Financial Administration on the use of grant funds. In addition, the salaries and non-discretionary benefits for a project manager to assist in the development and general management of the Chairs' program and activities are considered eligible expenses for this program.

All expenses charged to CISE moneys for the FRQNT grant must abide by Section 8 of the Common General Rules.


Application procedures

Description and guidelines

Teams apply directly to NSERC, provided they have the support of a senior administrator (e.g., department head, dean, vice-president or president) from each team member's host university. The application procedure includes two stages: a notification of intent stage and the full application stage.

There are no special application forms for this program; however, applications should follow these general presentation guidelines:

  • Margins must be set at a minimum 3/4 inch (1.9 cm) on all sides
  • Text must be single-spaced
  • The accepted font is Calibri, 12 pts, or any comparable font; nothing smaller
  • Condensed fonts and applications completed strictly in italics are not acceptable

By submitting an application to this competition, applicants agree to allow NSERC to share the information contained in the application with FRQNT and members of the CISE selection committee. Lead applicants must ensure that all team members are aware of the rules regarding the sharing of the information contained in the application. Confidential data from the self-identification questionnaire will not be shared with FRQNT or the CISE selection committee. This data may only be shared in aggregate form to ensure the confidentiality of the information provided.

Notes:

  1. If an application does not meet these standards, it may be rejected.
  2. If an application exceeds stated page limits, extra pages may be removed.
  3. Selection committee members can visit links that are provided in the application but should refrain from seeking information from other sources; teams are asked to limit the number of links provided.

Notification of intent (maximum one page for applications presented in English)

Deadline: December 2, 2024

The notification of intent (NOI) is a mandatory step in the application process. Teams that do not submit an NOI will not be able to submit an application. The NOI form must be completed and signed by all three members of the team.

Important: The NOI is used by NSERC/FRQNT staff for administrative purposes only; no review is performed at this stage.

How to submit the NOI

The NOI form must be submitted electronically in portable document format (PDF) via the Secure submissions for NSERC's scholarships and fellowships and Chairs for Inclusion in Science and Engineering programs. Access to submit the NOI via this secure site will be available from September 3, 2024, until the submission deadline on December 2, 2024. NSERC will send confirmation of receipt of the document; if you do not receive this confirmation within one business day of submitting your document, please contact NSERC staff (see below).

Note: The document must be signed by all three team members. Documents containing handwritten signatures will need to be scanned for electronic transmission.

The NOI form must be received at NSERC by 8:00 pm (ET) on the deadline.


Full application

Deadline: March 3, 2025

Apart from the basic structure outlined below, the proposal is free form. This allows the team the flexibility to be creative and innovative in structuring its proposal. A strong case should be made for the establishment of the best possible team in terms of diversity and ability to have a broad impact in Quebec.

Summary (maximum two pages for applications submitted in English, including references)

The summary should briefly outline the team’s overall strategy and describe its proposed activities and how they will have an impact with respect to the program objectives. It should include the names, positions and contact details of the three team members and each supporting senior administrator.

Team’s strategy (maximum five pages for applications submitted in English, including references)

The team should have a cohesive approach demonstrating synergy among the team members. The team’s strategy should be outlined in the context of the objectives of the CISE program, noting the following:

  • The general nature and level of current activities related to underrepresented groups in natural science and engineering disciplines within Quebec
  • What groups and issues the team plans to address as determined by evidence-based needs of the province of Quebec and how intersectionality will be taken into account (it is not expected that the team will be able to address all groups or issues during its tenure)
  • A description of how the members will work to address these issues and how they will leverage each other’s experience, knowledge and contributions
  • A justification of the team’s composition with regard to ensuring impact in the region
  • A description of each team member’s degree of influence in the NSE and their ability to act as a role model in these disciplines
  • Strategies to enhance the impact of the CISE Chairs within the universities and the region
  • The vision and anticipated evolution of the activities, including plans for sustainability

Action plan (maximum 10 pages for applications submitted in English, including references)

Proposals should include a detailed action plan that describes how the team will address its goals and objectives. Specifics of the proposed strategies are left to the discretion, creativity and motivation of the team, with support from the host universities and supporting organization(s) as needed. Action plans should include the following:

  • Short- and potential long-term objectives of the team's program
  • A description of the strategies that will be followed to address the objectives of the team's program
  • A description of the expected potential impacts
  • A description of the roles and responsibilities of each team member
  • A discussion on how the team will introduce new activities and/or build on existing ones in Quebec
  • A detailed budget outlining expenditures for all the funds provided by the host universities, supporting organization(s), NSERC and FRQNT (the desired distribution of funds among the host universities should be clearly outlined in the budget)
  • A description of the monitoring mechanisms to be put in place for the activities of the team
  • A description of the measures that will be put in place to assess the impact and effectiveness of Chair-related activities
  • A description of the regular professorial/research activities expected of each team member, including teaching load
  • A description of how the team will recruit, hire and create a rich, inclusive environment for program personnel
  • A description of how the team will collaborate with others—including the supporting organization(s), as applicable—to ensure that it has a strong impact within Quebec
  • A description of the communications and networking plan
  • A description of how successful strategies and programs will be publicized and communicated across Canada

Checklist for full application

A complete application at the full application stage includes the following:

  1. The proposal
    • the above-described proposal
  2. The CVs
    • A CV (any format) for each team member, including sufficient detail to address the selection criteria related to experience in issues related to equity and inclusion in the research ecosystem and potential for impact and influence in the natural sciences and engineering (see below)
  3. The host university support letters, the reference letters, and the supporting organization letter(s)
    • A letter of support (maximum two pages for applications submitted in English) from each team member's host university, confirming its support and detailing its reasons for supporting the team member; this letter can be signed by any appropriate senior administrator (president, vice-president, dean, department head, etc.)
    • A letter of reference (maximum two pages for applications submitted in English) for each proposed team member, specifically addressing their degree of influence in the natural sciences and engineering disciplines, their ability to act as a role model in these disciplines, their experience in addressing issues related to equity and inclusion and their ability to work as part of a team
    • A letter (maximum two pages for applications submitted in English) from each supporting organization stating its reasons for supporting the team and the level of its cash or in-kind contribution in the format below; do not include letters from organizations that are not providing cash or in-kind contributions (collaborations with such organizations can be described in the proposal, if applicable)

        Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
      Cash contribution
      In-kind contribution
  4. The terms and conditions of applying forms
  5. self-identification questionnaire: at the time of submission, each member must complete a self-identification questionnaire that covers age, gender, sexual orientation, Indigenous identity and/or identity as a member of a visible minority group and/or as a person with a disability, and language
    • For the ID field, provide your NSERC PIN or enter Unknown
    • Although completion of the questionnaire is mandatory, each question includes the option Prefer not to answer
    • Self-identification data will not be shared with the CISE selection committee or with FRQNT and will not be used in the review of applications or in the eligibility of candidates.

How to submit the full application

You can submit the full application electronically via the Secure submissions for NSERC's scholarships and fellowships and Chairs for Inclusion in Science and Engineering programs. Access to this secure submission site will be available from December 3, 2024, until the deadline on March 3, 2025. Documents must be submitted in portable document format (PDF). The following documents must be uploaded separately: 1) the proposal; 2) the CVs; 3) the host university support letters, the reference letters, and the supporting organization letter(s); and 4) the terms and conditions of applying forms. The CVs must be merged into one PDF document for submission, and the host university support letters, reference letters, and supporting organization letter(s) must be merged into another PDF document for submission. NSERC will send confirmation of receipt of documents; if you do not receive this confirmation within one business day of submitting your documents, please contact NSERC staff (see below).

Note: Documents containing handwritten signatures will need to be scanned for electronic transmission.

Applications must be received at NSERC by 8:00 pm (ET) on the deadline.


Review procedure for full application

Applications will be reviewed by a CISE selection committee. Membership on the committee will be drawn from Canadian postsecondary institutions, foreign institutions, industry and/or government laboratories, not-for-profit organizations, and potentially from NSERC staff. Recently retired individuals may be considered as potential members. Names of selection committee members will be posted on NSERC's list of review committees once available.

Review of applications is a two-step process. The committee will review all eligible applications submitted to the competition to develop a short list of applications. These will be further discussed by the committee at a (virtual) meeting, which will include an interview with each short-listed team.

Interviews will take place the week of May 12, 2025; teams should ensure that they are available during this week in the event that they are shortlisted.

Applicants and their supporting senior administrators will be notified of the results as soon they are available.


Selection criteria for full applications

The CISE selection committee will evaluate all Chair applications according to the following selection criteria:

  1. Potential of the team (weighted at 50% overall score)
    • Excellence and leadership of the candidates:
      • appropriate expertise to undertake the proposed activities
      • experience in research in the natural sciences and engineering
      • experience in issues related to equity and inclusion in the research ecosystem
      • the degree of influence of each team member in the NSE and their capacity to act as role models in these disciplines
    • Synergy of the team:
      • extent to which the team brings a diversity of perspectives
      • potential for broad impact in Quebec and across disciplines in the NSE
      • complementarity of the team members
      • potential of the team to successfully undertake the proposed activities
  2. Quality of the proposal (weighted at 50% of overall score)
    • Proposed strategies: merit and projected impact of the proposed strategies, including how the proposed activities are informed by evidence and respond to needs of the region and how the team has taken intersectionality into account when planning the activities, as well as evidence of meaningful engagement with underrepresented groups and/or real-world examples of past success with similar approaches
    • Cohesiveness of the proposal: extent to which the proposal is developed in a unified way and highlights complementary areas across the proposed activities to amplify impact
    • Communication and networking plan: appropriateness of the communication and networking plan to ensure maximum impact at both the regional and national levels
    • Feasibility: appropriateness of the budget in relation to the proposed activities, and demonstration of the necessary collaborations and support to successfully undertake the proposed activities
    • Working environment: appropriateness of considerations of equity, diversity and inclusion in recruitment and in the working environment for highly qualified personnel (HQP) and/or other program personnel

Discovery Grant holders

In order to provide the Chairs with stable research funding, successful team members who hold a Discovery Grant may be eligible to extend their grant for the duration of the Chair term. Stable funding will allow each Chair to put in place the necessary framework to help ensure that their research program remains active at a time of intense focus on strategic planning and implementation of initiatives and activities in support of the objectives of the CISE program.


National Network Grant

The national network grant, funded by NSERC and currently administered by the CWSE Chair for the British Columbia/Yukon region on behalf of all of the CISE/CWSE Chairs, links the five regions of the CWSE program. The network is funded at a level of $80,000 per year and provides mechanisms to facilitate interactions among the three CWSE Chairs in the Ontario, Prairies and British Columbia/Yukon regions and the CISE teams in the Atlantic and Quebec regions in order to:

  • increase the visibility and impact of CISE and CWSE activities at a national level
  • increase the effectiveness of the five regional programs through shared information and resources
  • enhance communication among the regional Chairs through regular face-to-face or virtual meetings
  • undertake research activities that support the common objectives of the CISE and CWSE programs
  • help build capacity and support for potential future applicants
  • provide continuity during the changeover from outgoing to incoming Chairs

Toward these goals, the national network undertakes a range of collaborative research, communication and networking activities, such as contributions to national and regional conferences.


Public announcements

NSERC and FRQNT will approve a public announcement only after the team of three Chairs has formally accepted the position and after all the conditions for holding the award have been met. Refer to the general guidelines for the public announcement of major NSERC awards when planning a public announcement of a Chair award.


Reporting

The team must submit a progress report after 24 months and a final report at the end of the five-year period. The reports will be shared with FRQNT and potentially with the host universities.


Renewal

After the five-year term, the team may be invited to renew its CISE grant for up to an additional five years. Renewal possibilities, if available, will be communicated to the team upon receipt of the progress report.


Contacts

NSERC staff are available to assist potential candidates and/or universities with any questions they have at any time during the application process and to provide resources to assist in finding potential team members.

In addition, the following virtual sessions are planned

  • Information session (French): September 17, 2024, from 12 pm to 1 pm (ET)
  • Information session (English): September 20, 2024, from 12 pm to 1 pm (ET)
  • Roundtable session to connect potential team members (bilingual): September 26, 2024, from 11 am to 1 pm (ET)
  • “Ask us anything” session (bilingual): November 19, 2024 from 11 am to 12 pm (ET)

Please contact NSERC staff using the email below to register and receive meeting details for the above sessions.

Chairs for Inclusion in Science and Engineering
Email: cise-cisg@nserc-crsng.gc.ca

Note: Recordings of the information sessions may be available for those who are unable to attend at the scheduled times.


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