Weston Family Awards in Northern Research 2024 Competition Now closed

Program Overview

Since 2007, the Weston Family Awards in Northern Research have provided unparalleled support to early career scientists in Canada pursuing research in Canada’s North. These annual awards are some of the most prestigious in the country for students pursuing a master’s degree, a doctoral degree or postdoctoral fellowship. Over 350 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows have been selected to receive an award since the program’s inception, forming a community of Weston Family Northern Scientists who are at the forefront of northern scholarship and who are helping shape a better future for Canada and the world.

Weston Family Awards in Northern Research winners undertake projects across a broad spectrum of fields and disciplines in the natural sciences, including studies of northern ecosystems, biodiversity, flora and fauna, meteorology, oceanography, glaciology, geography and environmental studies.

In the 2024 program year, the Weston Family Foundation will aim to support the following awards:

  • Up to 15 awards for master’s level students. Each award is valued at $20,000 over one year.
  • Up to 10 awards for doctoral students. Each award is valued at $40,000 each year for three years.
  • Up to 5 awards for postdoctoral fellows. Each award is valued at $55,000 each year for two years plus up to $10,000 per year for travel and conference expenses.

Important Dates

  • October 26th – 2024 contest opens
  • November 22nd – informational webinar (register here!)
  • January 16th, 2024 – contest closes
  • May, 2024 – Awardees will be contacted

Northern Science and Research

What We Do

Northern Canada is a vast, unique, and sensitive land and seascape – and is facing unprecedented challenges. Climate change is causing severe impacts to northern ecosystems as well as communities, and is occurring at a rate two to four times faster in the North than the rest of the country. Changes in northern Canada due to climate change include loss of species and shifts in ecosystem and species distribution, increased extreme weather events and changing disturbance regimes, and changing snow and ice conditions.

The aim of the Weston Family Foundation’s Northern Science and Research funding is, ultimately, to protect and restore biodiversity through increasing ecological stewardship and sustainability and increasing knowledge and awareness of northern ecosystems.

Since 2007, our Foundation has committed nearly $40 million to northern natural science research through scientists, non-profit organizations, and government agencies to support a better understanding of northern Canada and foster more informed decision-making. Through the Weston Family Awards in Northern Research, more than 350 early career northern researchers have been supported as graduate students or postdoctoral fellows, forming a community of Weston Family Northern Scholars at the forefront of research in northern Canada.

What We Fund

Although our work is continuously evolving, we have the following priorities for our funding:

  1. Land Use Planning & Management – through funding applied conservation and stewardship programs, the Foundation supports the ongoing protection and management of northern habitat and ecosystems.
  2. Research & Training – support for investigative science, through university- and Indigenous-led research projects, increases understanding of ecosystems and natural processes and provides evidence on which Indigenous and governmental decision-makers can make informed natural resource management decisions.
  3. Infrastructure & Technology – research and conservation in northern Canada is challenging due to the vastness of the landscape and challenging weather conditions. Funding infrastructure and technology development helps to alleviate some of these barriers to research and conservation.

We do not accept unsolicited requests for funding. For future grant opportunities, please check our Grant Calls page or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIN.

Featured Projects and Research

Weston Family Awards in Northern Research and Weston Family Boreal Research Fellowships

Wildlife Conservation Society Canada

Earth Rangers

Congratulations to the 2023 Winners of the Weston Family Awards in Northern Research

The Weston Family Awards in Northern Research were launched in 2007 to support early career researchers focusing on science in Canada’s North. Since that time, over 300 scientists have been funded at the Master’s, PhD, and Postdoctoral level. Through a competitive process, awards are presented to outstanding students and scientists in northern research from universities across Canada.  

This year, 26 researchers were chosen for a variety of research projects focusing on northern natural sciences. These projects include studies on: 

  • The impacts of climate change and industrial activity on wildlife species important for northern communities, such as wolves, caribou, bowhead whales, and Arctic plants; 
  • Understanding population dynamics and critical habitat for iconic northern wildlife species such as caribou, Arctic char, and Arctic seabirds; 
  • Improving knowledge about species that impact the North such as killer whales, beavers, non-native earthworms, and parasites; 
  • The impacts of climate change on boreal forest, permafrost, peatland, lakes, and the Arctic Ocean; and 
  • Understanding how aspects of ecology, oceanography, limnology, toxicology, glaciology, hydrology, hydrogeology, and atmospheric dynamics impact northern communities. 

The Weston Family Foundation hopes that this research contributes to protecting and restoring biodiversity in Canada’s North. Many of this year’s Northern Scholars are working directly with northern and Indigenous communities on their research projects and incorporating Indigenous Knowledge with the ultimate aim of helping communities make informed conservation management decisions.  

Many of the Northern Scholars also undertake projects through the Foundation’s Extended Stay Program. The Extended Stay Program provides funds to students wishing to spend time in the northern community in which their research takes place to co-develop their research or share the results of their research with the community. Examples of Extended Stay Program projects include community workshops, feasts, or provision of supportive infrastructure to a community related to a research project. 

To learn more about the 2023 Northern Scholars’ projects, click here.

Alison Ronson

Alison joined the Weston Family Foundation in 2022 and oversees all programming related to Northern Science and Knowledge. Prior to joining the Foundation, Alison worked as the National Director of Operations and Legal Counsel with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), where she was responsible for instituting operational systems and processes in the CPAWS national office. Alison has an extensive work history in large landscape-scale science and conservation, fundraising, financial planning, and reporting within charitable/non-profit organizations.  

Alison has a degree of Barrister-at-Law, Law Society of Ontario, a Masters in International Affairs from Carleton University, where she focused on the impact of climate change on Arctic environmental institutions, and a Bachelor of Science with Honours from Queens University (Faculty of Biology and Faculty of Environmental Sciences), where she studied the impact of climate change on Arctic soil microbial processes.

Sarah Cook

Sarah Cook joined the Weston Family Foundation in January 2022 as a Grants Coordinator. She is responsible for supporting the operational needs of programs related to the Weston Family Microbiome Initiative and Northern Science and Knowledge.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Sarah worked on the Operations and Finance teams for a number of Canadian and international non-profit organizations including the Stephen Lewis Foundation and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation.

Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Development Studies and a Postgraduate Certificate in International Development Management.

Applications now being accepted for the 2022 Weston Family Awards in Northern Research

The Weston Family Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of the 2022 Weston Family Awards in Northern Research. Through a competitive process, these awards are presented annually to outstanding students and scientists in northern research from across Canada.

As of Nov. 4, 2021, the Weston Family Awards are open to students pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees, or a postdoctoral fellowship. Past winners have undertaken research projects across a broad spectrum of fields and disciplines in the natural sciences, including studies of northern ecosystems, biodiversity, flora and fauna, meteorology, oceanography, glaciology, geography and environmental studies.

Since the program’s inception in 2007, more than 300 early-career researchers have been selected to receive an award, forming a community of Weston Family Northern Scientists who are at the forefront of northern scholarship and who are helping shape a better future for Canada and the world. In the most recent round of awards, 27 researchers were chosen for a variety of research projects, including bird biodiversity, polar bear ecology, permafrost thaw, beluga health and Inuit knowledge.

The deadline to submit an application for the current awards program is Jan. 27, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. (EST). For more information, please visit www.westonfamilyawards.ca.

Congratulations to the winners of the Weston Family Awards in Northern Research

The Weston Family Awards in Northern Research were launched in 2007 to support early-career researchers focusing on science in the North. Since that time, nearly 300 scientists have been funded at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

Through a competitive process, awards are presented to outstanding students and scientists in northern research from universities across Canada. This year, 27 researchers were chosen for a variety of research projects, including bird biodiversity, polar bear ecology, permafrost thaw, beluga health and Inuit knowledge.

Read more about the work of this year’s award winners here: 2021 Weston Family Awards in Northern Research

Earth Rangers

Since 2011, the Weston Family Foundation has supported Earth Rangers’ mission to foster environmental education and to encourage every child to take action towards the conservation of northern Canada north.

Earth Rangers’ national Wildlife Adoptions Program helps to educate children and empower them to improve the environment and protect animals. Foundation support has enabled more than one million children and their families to learn about iconic northern species such as caribou, polar bear, and beluga whale, bringing a deeper understanding of northern wildlife to new audiences. As a result, Earth Rangers has been successful in engaging families across the country to support biodiversity and conservation in Canada’s North.

For more information, visit the Earth Rangers website: www.earthrangers.com

Wildlife Conservation Society Canada

Encouraging meaningful and informative collaborations is at the core of the Foundation’s work to enhance scientific research and shape dialogue about Canada’s North. The Foundation supports organizations that build new alliances and forge significant relationships between environmental organizations, decision makers and other key stakeholders.

Across the Northern Boreal forests and the western Arctic, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (WCS Canada) is supported by the Foundation to ensure that scientific data is available to guide decisions for the protection of species and ecosystems through meaningful collaborations.

WCS Canada also administers the Weston Family Boreal Research Fellowships, which allow the next generation of northern researchers to work alongside leading scientists, thereby enhancing their graduate-level work and informing new conversations. The annual fellowships are awarded to support field research relevant to WCS Canada’s conservation objectives at their two long-term conservation sites: the boreal region of Northern Ontario and the Northern Boreal Mountains of Yukon and British Columbia.

For more information on the Fellowships, please visit the WCS Canada Fellowships page

For details on the accomplishments of the program, please review the 2009-2019 WCS Canada Fellowship Program Report