I was excited to be asked to serve on the NSERC DG’s Mathematics and Statistics Evaluation Group. For those not familiar with the Canadian academic grants scene, NSERC is the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, which holds annual competitions for grants for faculty in STEM disciplines. NSERC is part of the so-called tri-council, which includes the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Canadian Institute for Health Research. The Discovery Grant (DG) is the gold standard of Canadian grants for those in Mathematics. While there are other grants available from NSERC and other bodies such as MITACS Inc, the DG is the default funding for most mathematical researchers in Canada. Our job as researchers is to 1) do research, 2) train grad students and post-docs, and 3) teach. DG funds can support 1) and 2), and provide funds for travel to network and disseminate your ideas.
My DG was renewed last year, at the end of its five-year cycle. It was adjudicated by the Mathematics and Statistics Evaluation Group, which consists of about 30 researchers in the field from across Canada (and some from abroad). I received the same funding level as my previous grant, although my merit scores went up (DG grant levels fluctuate with federal budgets). I suppose I did something right in my application! I am lucky to have a decent collection of papers and books, as well a respectable track record of graduate students and post-docs that I have trained.
It was a great honour to be asked to serve on this important committee. My colleagues who have served at NSERC say it is hard work, but rewarding. It also gives you a broad overview of research done in your field in Canada.
This is my fourth DG, and I think serving at NSERC is a terrific way to give back to the academic community that has supported my career for over 15 years.