Sarah Wolfe on Mentoring and Advising:

In the first months of my PhD program, my advisor said this: “funding begets funding.” He was absolutely correct, but what I didn’t realize then was that I’d love writing and winning research grants. This isn’t because the wins validate me as a worthy human or legitimate scholar; rather these grants allow me to pay forward the opportunities made available to me as a financially insecure, first generation student. With secure SSHRC funding, I recruit talented students from all backgrounds and help ensure they are (slightly more) financially secure during their graduate degrees. Together, we form a research team doing great work but also an equitable, supportive and fun community.

If you are interested in joining our team, and potentially work with me as your advisor, we should chat before you apply to either the University of Waterloo’s or Royal Roads University’s graduate programs. I follow ethical advisory practices and have a clear mentorship ‘philosophy’. If you are interested in working with me for your graduate degree, I strongly encourage you to speak to any of my current or former students.

Project Recruitment

All projects are tied to the completion of a Masters thesis or PhD/Doctoral dissertation and have associated funding support. Students are strongly encouraged (a nice way to say Required) to pursue external scholarships with my support, as well as peer support from other Lab members.


One Masters position @ $23K total

Residents’ intention to consume water under conditions of scarcity in southern Vancouver Island (comparative). A masters student is required to replicate an existing methodology, refine recruitment strategies, collect and analyze water efficiency intention data, in the Greater Victoria area (Victoria, Langford and Metchosin), and co-author a scholarly manuscript to completion. A student with an interest in social and/or psychological aspects of water decisions would be best suited for this interdisciplinary research. The student will need to be comfortable with statistical analysis; experience with psychology methods are not necessary but could be useful; an ability to network and develop relationships with key community members would be helpful.


One Masters position @ $23K total

Measures of mortality awareness and peoples’ willingness to commit to using various green burial options. Other considerations of soil and/or water implications of conventional burial practices might also be of interest. Students with interdisciplinary water and soil issues and/or consumer behaviour preferences around green burials would be best suited for this research. A student with a background in social psychology, interdisciplinary environmental issues, possibly with an interest in water, would be best suited for this research. Emerging research design abilities – including both qualitative and quantitative methods using interview, survey and or soil/water sampling data – would be useful. Strong writing, interpersonal and analytical skills essential for this work.

Partnership Development Grant (PDG) PROJECTS

Partnership Development Grant (PDG) PROJECTS:  In new, SSHRC-funded research, an interdisciplinary faculty and student team from Royal Roads University, the University of Waterloo and the University of Victoria will investigate the role of affect (emotion) in environmental education, knowledge retention, and decision making. The research team leads (Drs. Barbeau, Noble and Wolfe) are recruiting four Masters students and one Doctoral student for this exciting multi-project program.

throw out the trash

Things that need to be normalized in the academic process and careers: rejection; failure; uncertainty; not knowing; shitty first drafts (SFD).


Things that need to be demystified: how messy, time-consuming, frustrating etc research process can be; how much politics can part of the process, e.g., within a committee and/or publishing; how absolutely glorious and fun research can be.

hands united together

Things that need to be challenged outright: isolation; zero-sum thinking; 110% commitment at the expense of health and well-being; cohort competition.

Lab Mentorship Principles

  1. Tailor mentoring to individuals’ needs [as you assess and as they indicate].
  2. Encourage focus but don't ignore opportunities [Beware of "shiny squirrels"].
  3. Fan the flames of enthusiasm.
  4. Encourage careers built around problems, NOT techniques.
  5. Promote [and support] risk-taking.
  6. Model dogged persistence [but with healthy work-life balancing].
  7. Empower through progressive responsibility.
  8. Emphasize storytelling and community “feeling that you are part of something larger than yourself is one of the most powerful emotions”.
  9. Laugh and have fun [while respecting others’ preferences and boundaries].
  10. Respect your own mentors [while acknowledging that no one is perfect].

Adapted from Robert Lefkowitz, The Art of Scholarly Mentoring