This page contains information for students who are considering working with LSMR. Research does not always need to involve a thesis, and we’ve benefitted over the years from engaging in many lines of research that were never intended to become thesis work.

Undergraduates

There are often opportunities for undergraduate students to do research in the lab in two forms: via course projects (e.g., CPSC 502 and 503) and via summer work. One must be a University of Calgary student to partake of these courses.  CPSC 502 is a two-term course that is aimed at real research; CPSC 503 is a one-term course that tends to be much more applied.  Essentially, anything that falls within the general scope of LSMR would be a potential project; we may have more specific ideas but we do not advertise these.  Contact us if you are interested in this possibility.

Summer work is usually arranged during the Winter term, though preliminary contact can happen much sooner. Such work is often similar to the CPSC 502 or 503 projects, except that you get paid for it instead of getting course credit. Most can lead to graduate work if you are so interested. These projects will be more constrained to fit into the work that we are currently doing.  Again, we likely have specific ideas but we do not advertise these. Contact us if you are interested.

Graduates

You should start by reading about the rules for admission; details can be found here.

Students often do not seem to realize how much more important it is to find a supervisor who fits your style, than it is to go to a particular school. Do you need close attention or do you want feedback once in a blue moon? Do you need a nurturing mentor or do you need a boss who will keep you in line? Do you get along better with someone with a sense of humour or do you prefer a business-like atmosphere? Do you need someone with a wealth of ideas on a particular topic, or someone who gives you space but who will restrain your excess enthusiasm? There are no right or wrong answers, but having the appropriate student–supervisor fit goes a long way towards successful graduate research.

We generally have a small set of tailorable projects in mind for thesis students to work on, but we do not advertise these on the web or via email as we are not in the business of giving research ideas away to the world. Some of these ideas carry on with research that we have already done. Beyond these, there is flexibility about research topics pursued by students in the lab. If you have your own reasonable idea that we are capable of supervising, that’s fine, but we need to fit it in with everything else going on: this makes management easier and allows students in the lab to support each other as well. We are interested in cross- or multi-disciplinary projects (i.e., in other areas of computer science or outside computer science), but these generally require co-supervisors to be set up, which is harder to arrange.

Our students are supported financially via one means or another. This is to ensure that you do not starve or freeze to death while conducting your research. It is not intended to be competitive with industrial salaries … after all, we want to give you incentive to finish! Our financial support is sufficient for the cost of living in Calgary, but it will not allow you to live in luxury. The Department web pages outline expected costs of living and school. Unless you are fortunate enough to come in with a scholarship or to obtain a University scholarship, you can expect to receive funding as a teaching assistant in the Fall and Winter terms and as a research assistant in the Spring/Summer term. In addition, a small number of Departmental research awards are available.

There are a few questions that we always ask prospective students:

  • Why do you want to go to grad school?
  • What do you think is involved in research?
  • What do you expect is the role of the student and of the supervisor?
  • What are you interested in researching? (specific or vague) What interests you about it?

And finally, here is a hint about the application process that many students fail to realize: the Letters of Reference are important! It is a bad idea to simply get three arbitrary people to say, “Ya, person X took my course.” Lots of people have good marks, but the question is whether a fellow researcher who knows you a little bit thinks you have potential, i.e., the details that a transcript cannot tell us.

Having read all this, feel free to contact us to enquire about possibilities and to share your answers to these points.

Good luck in your quest!