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Chairs for Inclusion in Science and Engineering (pilot)

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Duration Two-year pilot program in the Atlantic region, may be renewable (see below)
Application deadline March 28, 2023, by 9:00 p.m. (ADT)
Chairs start date August 1, 2023
How to apply See below
Application forms

To view forms and instructions, select PDF forms and instructions.

To complete Form 183A and the terms and conditions of applying form, select the links above.

Contacts See below


The Chairs for Inclusion in Science and Engineering (CISE) program is an evolution of the Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE) program, which has traditionally funded five individual Chairs across Canada—one for each of the Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies and British Columbia/Yukon regions, linked through a funded national network—working to increase the participation and retention of women in science and engineering and to provide role models for women active in, and considering, careers in these fields.

The CISE program builds on the successful 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. It is being launched as a two-year pilot to replace the outgoing CWSE Chair in the Atlantic region with a team of three CISE Chairs at multiple universities across this region.

The goal of the CISE pilot is to support a team of researchers in the Atlantic region who contribute to a culture of inclusion in the natural sciences and engineering fields by catalyzing networks of supporters of this work, promoting equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) 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 and gender minorities, Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis), persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities/racialized groups and members of LGBTQ2+ communities. Intersectionality among these groups as well as with other dimensions must also be considered. The team will be responsible for proposing initiatives that are most relevant to the issues within their region.

Objectives of the CISE program

The objectives of the CISE program are to

  • provide chairholders with the capacity and platform to undertake activities that increase EDI and promote 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 role models 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 increase EDI and 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 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


  • Candidates must apply as a team of three. One person must be designated as the applicant; however, all team members are expected to contribute meaningfully to the application and proposed activities. All three members of the successful team will be considered Chairs.
  • Team members must be from at least two different NSERC-eligible universities within the Atlantic region to amplify the impact of the Chairs’ program and build a base for networking across the region.
  • Each team member must meet NSERC’s regular eligibility criteria to apply for or receive NSERC funding.
  • Each team member must hold a current NSERC research grant as the principal applicant or be awarded one prior to taking up the Chair (exceptions may be granted when a strong justification is provided).
  • At least one of the team members must self-identify as a woman (please note that this is a minimum requirement; teams entirely composed of women are also eligible).
  • 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


NSERC will contribute an initial $130,000 in project funds per year to be shared by the team. In addition, NSERC 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 $200,000 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 a Chair has started, NSERC will adjust its initial level of 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 will also match cash contributions of at least $20,000 from host universities with $25,000 to support a postdoctoral fellow (PDF) or research engineer for each team member.

CISE PromoScience supplement

Teams have the option of applying for a CISE PromoScience supplement valued at $30,000/year as part of their CISE applications. As the CISE and PromoScience programs have some complementary goals, this opportunity for streamlined access to additional funding is presented as an optional aspect of the CISE application process. Applying for a CISE PromoScience supplement is done through the CISE application; no separate application is required.

To be eligible for the CISE PromoScience supplement, at least one component of the team’s proposal must focus on hands-on, interactive science or engineering activities to help Canadian youth from underrepresented groups to develop science and engineering skills and interests. The CISE PromoScience supplement is conditional on approval from the CISE selection committee.

Teams applying for the CISE PromoScience supplement must clearly indicate this in the summary section of their proposal (see below).

Summary of annual funding amounts for the CISE team

  NSERC contributions University contributions Supporting organization contributions
Initial award amount (project funds) $130K n/a n/a
Matching funds (cash or in-kind) Up to $70K Unlimited1 Unlimited1
PDF/Research engineer support2 $25K per Chair $20K (min per Chair)3 n/a
Optional PromoScience supplement $30K n/a n/a
Total Up to $305K Unlimited Unlimited

1 Up to $70K total will be matched by NSERC.

2 Chairs must hold NSERC research funding to be eligible for the PDF/Research engineering support.

3 NSERC will contribute $25K per Chair, conditional upon a minimum $20K cash contribution from each host university.

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 the Chair’s salary be fully covered by the 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 and inflation. 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 the 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 use of grant funds

All expenses charged to CISE moneys 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 for assistance in the development and general management of the Chairs’ program and activities are considered an eligible expense for this program.

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. There is no special application form for this program; however, the application should follow these general presentation guidelines:

  • Margins must be set at a minimum 3/4 inch (1.9 cm) on all sides
  • Print must be in black ink and of letter quality
  • Text must be single-spaced, with no more than six lines per inch
  • The accepted font is Times New Roman regular, 12 pts, or any comparable font; nothing smaller
  • Condensed fonts and applications completed strictly in italics are not acceptable

Note: If an application does not meet these standards, it may be rejected.


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 action plan. A strong case should be made for the establishment of the best possible team in terms of diversity and ability to have broad impact in the region.

Summary (maximum two pages)

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. If a team wishes to apply for the CISE PromoScience supplement or to request a salary component for any of its members, these items should be clearly indicated in the summary.

Team’s strategy (maximum five pages)

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 the region
  • What groups and issues the team plans to address as determined by evidence-based needs of the region 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
  • 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)

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 roles and responsibilities of each team member
  • A discussion on how the team will build on existing activities in the region and/or introduce new activities
  • A detailed budget outlining expenditures for all the funds provided by the host universities, supporting organization(s) and NSERC (the desired distribution of funds among the host universities should be clearly outlined in the budget)
  • A description of the reporting and 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 regional impact
  • A description of how the team will collaborate with the CWSE Chairs and participate in initiatives on a national scale, notably the national network described below
  • A description of how successful strategies and programs will be publicized and communicated across Canada

Full application

A complete application includes the following:

  • the above-described proposal
  • A CV (any format) for each team member, including sufficient detail to address the selection criteria related to experience in EDI-related issues in the research ecosystem and potential for impact and influence in the natural sciences and engineering (see below)
  • A letter of support from each team member’s host university, confirming its support and detailing its reasons for supporting the team member
  • A letter of reference for each proposed team member, specifically addressing their degree of influence in the natural sciences and engineering disciplines, their experience in addressing EDI issues and their ability to work as part of a team (maximum two pages per letter)
  • A letter from each supporting organization stating the level of its cash or in-kind contribution and its reasons for supporting the team
  • A completed Form 183A, information required from organizations participating in research partnerships programs, for each supporting organization
  • A terms and conditions of applying form for each team member
  • A This link will take you to another Web site 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 are not shared with the CISE selection committee

How to send the application

Electronically via the This link will take you to another Web site Secure submissions for NSERC’s scholarships and fellowships and Chairs for Inclusion in Science and Engineering programs. 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, the supporting organization letter(s) and the Form(s) 183A; 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, supporting organization letter(s) and Form(s) 183A must be merged into another PDF document for submission.

Note: Original or electronic signatures are required on documents, but they can still be submitted electronically.

Applications must be received at NSERC by 9:00 p.m. (AST) on the deadline date.

Review procedures

Applications will be reviewed by a CISE selection committee. Membership on the committee will be drawn from Canadian universities, 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 selection committees and evaluation groups 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. Meeting date(s) will be communicated to short-listed teams as soon as they become available.

Selection criteria

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 of the candidates:
      • appropriate expertise to undertake the proposed activities
      • experience in research in the natural sciences and engineering
      • experience in EDI-related issues in the research ecosystem
      • potential for impact and influence in the natural sciences and engineering
    • Synergy of the team:
      • extent to which the team brings a diversity of perspectives and its potential for broad impact in the region
      • 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, take intersectionality into account and respond to needs of the region, 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 EDI 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 two-year pilot 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 five regions are formally linked through a National Network Grant, funded by NSERC. The network is funded at a level of $80,000 per year and provides mechanisms to facilitate interactions among the four CWSE Chairs in each of the Quebec, Ontario, Prairies and British Columbia/Yukon regions and the CISE team in the Atlantic region in order to

  • 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
  • increase the visibility and impact of CISE and CWSE activities at a national level
  • 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 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 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 in planning a public announcement of a Chair award.


The team must submit a progress report after the first year and a final report at the end of the two-year pilot period. Due to the pilot nature of this funding opportunity, periodic feedback through surveys and interviews may be collected from Chairs, their host universities and their supporting organization(s) throughout the pilot.


After the two-year pilot, 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 first-year progress report.


Chair candidates are encouraged to notify NSERC of their intent to apply prior to the application deadline.

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: September 16, 2022, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (ADT)
  • Roundtable session to connect potential team members: September 22, 2022, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (ADT)
  • “Ask us anything” session: January 20, 2023, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (ADT)

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

Chairs for Inclusion in Science and Engineering