“The Vanier CGS application process took approximately three weeks to complete, including the gathering of transcripts, reference letters and application components, especially the research proposal. During these three weeks, my entire time was dedicated to the application.
“Given that the application was due within a month of starting my Biomedical Physics PhD, I found it difficult to put together a complete, well thought-out proposal so early in my research. A lot of work went into conducting a thorough literature search and articulating my PhD research in a concise manner for a broad audience. I also had to provide rationale for choosing Ryerson as the proposed location for holding the Vanier as I had already completed all my previous degrees here.
“I think my application stood out in the academic excellence and research potential categories. I had a very productive MSc project that yielded a considerable number of publications and conference proceedings. I was also involved in many collaborative projects that were diverse in nature, and I believe that demonstrated to the committee that I am a well-rounded applicant capable of engaging in multidisciplinary research. This aspect made me competitive compared to my peers.
“As I knew my application strengths were in my research potential, I selected referees who were involved with my research and could speak in great detail about my research portfolio, skills and potential to conduct independent research. My leadership referee was chosen specifically as they could discuss the extracurricular activities I was involved with outside of research, demonstrating my involvement in the community.
“It is an understatement to say the Vanier CGS has provided me with very unique opportunities. It has allowed me to attend at least two international scientific conferences each year since I have been fully funded. The opportunity to consistently present my work to the scientific community has allowed me to build a reputation in my field that would have simply not been possible without the award.
“Within Ryerson, the Vanier gave me credibility within the graduate community as a student who has a solid understanding of the research landscape and the unique needs of grad students.
“My advice to future applicants is to not let the Vanier CGS prestige and dollar amount intimidate you. If you put forward a complete application that shows to the reviewers that you have thought about your research in an innovative and creative way, you have a chance at being successful. There is no such thing as the ‘wrong’ leadership activity to highlight on your application; put forward what you are passionate about rather than what you think the reviewer would like to see.”
Biomedical Physics PhD and 2015 NSERC Vanier CGS recipient