Funding and awards for researchers

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Competitive Funding Process

POLAR has an integrated suite of grants and contributions that supports the Northern Science & Technology and Polar Knowledge Application programs.

We thank everyone who submitted Letters of Intent to POLAR’s Competitive Funding Process for 2017-19. This process is now closed.

Polar Knowledge Canada’s (POLAR’s) Science and Technology Program

Polar Knowledge Canada (POLAR) supports research projects within its Science and Technology Program, which aims to create a strong research presence in Canada’s Arctic through POLAR. The program builds a knowledge base to support effective solutions to Arctic issues, northern policy and research development, and advances Canada’s position as a leading Arctic nation.

The first call for proposals focused on strengthening monitoring in northern Canada and research in northern regions of significant resource development. Proposals were accepted for single or multi-year projects. Multi-year projects may extend through 2017-2018, subject to an annual proposal evaluation.

Future POLAR calls will be posted on this page.

Co-funding is encouraged between POLAR and the Northern Contaminants Programs as well as other related Arctic science programs such as ArcticNet, the Nunavut General Monitoring Plan, and the Cumulative Impacts Monitoring Program where applicable.

Northern Scientific Training Program

In 1961, the federal government established the Northern Scientific Training Grants Program to encourage Canadian universities to train northern specialists to meet national needs. Today, it is the Northern Scientific Training Program (NSTP) and provides supplementary funding to over 300 students annually at over 35 universities across Canada. The program is administered by POLAR as part of its mandate to foster science and technology in Canada’s North. Northern Scientific Training Program Information Manual 2017-2018 .

Application procedures

Applications for the Northern Scientific Training Program funding must be made by the Chairperson of a Northern Studies Committee at a Canadian university or the equivalent. The committee must be officially recognized by the President of the university. Applications from individuals are not accepted. If a student's university does not have a recognized Northern Studies Committee, the candidate may apply through a participating university.

Supported fields of research

The program funds projects on northern topics from all disciplines and in multi-disciplinary fields.

Geographical focus

The Northern Scientific Training Program supports projects that lie north of the southern limit of the discontinuous permafrost zone, with the addition of all of the Southern Yukon in the West; that section of Labrador south to and including Red Bay; and the other seven Arctic countries (Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the U.S.A. - Alaska).

Use of Northern Scientific Training Program funds

The program’s funds are restricted. They are a supplement meant to offset the additional costs of northern research (e.g. transportation and living costs). The Northern Scientific Training Program is not intended to be a source of primary support for students pursuing northern research.

Selection process

Every year, an inter-governmental committee reviews the applications and allocates funding on the following basis:

  • the extent to which the application fits within program guidelines
  • the evaluation of past performance and future research
  • the training component of the application, and
  • the contribution to the development of northern specialists at the university.

This committee is also responsible for ensuring the effective use of funds allocated in the previous year.


  • Be enrolled in a degree program at a Canadian university.
  • Funds are available in support of graduate students. However, senior undergraduate students entering their final year and intending to undertake an honours thesis based on northern fieldwork or research, which will be continued in subsequent graduate studies, are also eligible.
  • Students supported by training funds must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
  • Summer and winter projects are eligible.
  • Post-doctoral studies are not supported.


The deadline for endorsed applications to the Northern Scientific Training Program is December 1 of each year. Students should be informed of the earlier deadlines set within each university by their respective Northern Studies Committee. Applications are being accepted for the 2017 field season.

Annual cycle

The program is based on a fiscal year commencing April 1 and ending March 31.

Special awards

The George Hobson Award, Malcolm Ramsay Memorial Award, Robert McGhee Award, and Éric Dewailly Memorial Award are each valued at $1,000. All participating universities with students meeting the criteria are encouraged to nominate one student for this award each year. Each student nominated must also have submitted an application for a Northern Scientific Training Program grant and must adhere to its guidelines.

For more

The Northern Science Award

The Northern Science Award is presented annually to an individual or a group who has made a significant contribution to meritorious knowledge and understanding of the Canadian North and, in the spirit of the last International Polar Year (2007-2008), recognizes the transformation of knowledge into action.

Laureates of the award receive the Centenary Medal and $10,000.

Until 1997, the award was presented to an individual who made distinguished contributions to northern Canada through scientific work. In recognition of the contribution of indigenous knowledge to the scientific understanding of the North, the eligibility requirements for the award were expanded to include indigenous groups who possess and share indigenous knowledge.

Definition of northern science

For the purpose of this award, “northern” is defined as that part of Canada that lies north of the southern limit of discontinuous permafrost and “science” refers to all fields of inquiry, including those based upon indigenous knowledge, that advance our understanding of the natural world and society.

Nomination requirements

Anyone can make a nomination. The term "candidate" includes either an individual or a group. The nominator should provide to the selection committee:

  • A letter of nomination clearly demonstrating the merit of the accomplishment of the candidate (in 500 words or less);
  • Supporting documentation includes:
    • the candidate’s curriculum vitae (10 pages)
    • evidence of the candidate's scientific achievements in northern science (research activities, publications, other awards and distinctions, professional and public services, sharing of indigenous knowledge)
    • evidence of the application of the new knowledge and its impacts
  • Three letters of support highlighting the candidate's achievement(s).

Nominations must be submitted electronically (in .pdf format) to:

Nominations for the 2017 award are now closed.

Selection committee

A five-member selection committee appointed by the Chairperson of the POLAR organization reviews all nominations and recommends the recipient for the award. Committee members are chosen from outside the federal public service for their broad understanding of northern science.

Selection process

As part of the selection process, the selection committee will assess each candidate on the following combination of achievements:

  • wide recognition of the quality and significance of the knowledge created;
  • significant contribution to advancement of northern knowledge;
  • relevance to northern societies or communities, with an emphasis on transforming knowledge into action; and
  • training or participation of Northerners in the work.

List of Northern Science Award recipients

(Year of Award and Field of Distinction)

  • John Smol, Ph.D. (Northern Science Award 2016, Limnology)
  • Louis Fortier, PhD (Northern Science Award 2015, Marine Biology)
  • Robie Macdonald, Ph.D. (2014, Marine geochemistry)
  • Gérard Duhaime, Ph.D. (2013, Sociology)
  • Michel Allard, Ph.D. (2006, Geomorphology)
  • Donald Russell (2004, Caribou biology)
  • Charles J. Krebs, Ph.D. (2003, Ecology)
  • Ian Grote Stirling, Ph.D. (2002, Polar bear ecology)
  • Bernard Saladin d'Anglure Ph.D. (2001, Ethnology)
  • Donald E. Thomas Ph.D. (2000, Caribou biology)
  • Inullariit Elders' Society (1998, Inuit knowledge)
  • Graham W. Rowley Doctoral of Science (1997, Science policy)
  • Shelagh Grant (1996, History)
  • Branco Ladanyi Ph.D. (1995, Engineering)
  • E. Fred Roots Ph.D. (1994, Geology, Science policy)
  • Josef Svoboda Ph.D. (1993, Botany)
  • Andrew Taylor Ph.D. (1992, Geography)
  • George Hobson (1991, Arctic logistics)
  • Thomas Qumaq (1990, Linguistics)
  • William O. Pruitt, Ph.D. (1989, Ecology)
  • Guy Mary-Rousselière Oblates of Mary Immaculate (1988, Archeology)
  • Otto Schaefer M.D. (1987, Medicine)
  • Maxwell J. Dunbar Ph.D. (1986, Biological oceanography)
  • Louis-Edmond Hamelin Ph.D. (1985, Geography)
  • Ross Mackay Ph.D. (1984, Geomorphology)

Other organizations that fund polar scientists

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