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Current Opportunities

Boreal ecosystems and agricultural sciences

Graduate Research Assistantships Opportunities

Doctor of Philosophy in Boreal Ecosystems and Agricultural Sciences – Ph.D. in BEAS

School of Science and the Environment, Memorial University, NL

Project Title: Formulation and Product Testing of Seafood Compost

Project background and summary:

Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) is surrounded by abundant natural resources, with wastes from the fishing industry often being landfilled or dumped at sea each year. This research project explores composting fish processing wastes or by-products with other natural biomass into a suitable soil amendment to improve soil quality, nutrients and crop growth This work supports the provincial government mandate of increasing food security within the province. In this study, we will test the impact of fish processing wastes on crop growth, yields, and the phytonutrient profile of high-value crops, various compost formulations will be developed and evaluated under controlled environmental conditions. Diverting industry fish waste from landfills will create opportunities to develop compost products, improve the environment, create new economic value and jobs. Upon determining the best formulation for improved crop growth, a potential opportunity exists to develop and commercialize fish waste into a suitable formulation such as pellets, powder,
or a liquid feed to enhance crop growth, yield, and phytochemical profile of high-value crops.

Qualifications for Admission:

To be considered for admission, applicants shall hold an MSc degree in Agricultural Sciences, Biological Sciences, Environmental Sciences or related field from an institution recognized by the Senate or shall have qualifications and/or experience in environmental science acceptable to the Dean of Graduate Studies and the graduate committee of BEAS.

Project support:

Project funding will be available for four years. A graduate research assistantship of $ 21,000 (minimum) per year is available. Positions are contingent on funding.

Expected starting date: Preferably in Spring/Summer 2022

Further information please contact:
Dr. Mumtaz Cheema – mcheema@grenfell.mun.ca OR
Dr. Raymong Thomas – rthomas@grenfell.mun.ca OR
Dr. Lakshman Galagedara – lgalagedara@grenfell.mun.ca

Master of Science [Thesis Based] in Boreal Ecosystems and Agricultural Sciences – MSc in BEAS Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Project Title: Integrated EMI–GPR surveys can support precision agriculture by monitoring and evaluating the effects of land uses and agricultural management

Project background and summary:

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), Canada has identified 64,000 hectares of potential areas of interest to increase agriculture development. Expanding of agricultural areas, coupled with the effects of climate change are expected to put accelerating pressure such as more demand, degradation and variable precipitation etc., on land and water resources. To address this challenge, precision agriculture has become a key strategy for increasing agricultural productivity with minimum input and environmental damages. In order to facilitate sustainable management of land and water resources, knowledge of spatiotemporal variability of relevant soil properties are needed. This demands methods for obtaining data at different scales rapidly and cost effectively, enabling the evaluation of soil related properties under variable land and crop management conditions. Based on preliminary investigations, the effects of different land use and agronomic practices on soil properties and soil hydrology can be assessed, adjusted and optimized in supporting precision agriculture. Research goal is on hydrogeophysical characterization of agricultural and natural lands in western Newfoundland to answer: (i) can we use integrated geophysical techniques for estimating said properties over larger scale and what is the depth sensitivity? and (ii) what is variability of soil properties and soil hydrology affected by different land use and agricultural management systems?

Qualifications for Admission

To be considered for admission, applicants shall hold a Bachelor’s (Honors) degree in Agricultural Sciences (Soil Physics, Agricultural Engineering), Earth Science, Civil/Geotechnical Engineering or Environmental Science with at least second class standing, or equivalent, from an institution recognized by the Senate or shall have qualifications and/or experience in environmental science acceptable to the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Grenfell Campus graduate committee (http://www.mun.ca/become/graduate/apply/).

Project support:

Funding from NSERC, TCII and MUN will be available for two MSc (research) students for two years. A graduate research assistantship of $ 16,500 (minimum) per annum for each student is available.

Expected starting date:

Preferably in Fall Semester 2021 or Winter 2022.

Further information:

Dr. Lakshman Galagedara (lgalagedara@grenfell.mun.ca)
Program: https://www.grenfell.mun.ca/academics-and-research/Pages/school-of-science- and-the-environment/Graduate-Programs/Boreal-Ecosystems-and-Agricultural- Sciences.aspx

PhD Studentship Opportunities

Three Ph.D. studentships available at Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada):  Greenhouse gas emissions in boreal peatlands affected by agricultural drainage and climate change
Three Ph.D. studentships are available at the Terrestrial Biogeochemistry and Ecohydrology Research Group (TBERG) of Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada).  The studentships are available fully funded for four years, starting immediately or as early as possible.

Ph.D. 1: Examining the impacts of agricultural drainage on greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) in boreal peatlands.

Your research work will include, but not limited to, (1) quantify greenhouse gas emissions from boreal peatlands affected by agricultural drainage; (2) measure the temporal and spatial variability of greenhouse gas emissions; (3) determine the biotic and abiotic regulatory factors and their relationships with greenhouse gas fluxes.

The measurements of greenhouse gas fluxes are based on static chamber methods and gas chromatography, and eddy-covariance tower measurement. All these measurements have been continuously carried out starting from the summer of 2013.  We have installed a pair of eddy covariance (EC) tower, equipped with LI-7200 and LI-7700, on our research sites, one on the natural peatland, and the other one on abandoned peatland pasture with active drainage, and they have been operational since September 2013.

You should have excellent oral and written communication skills in English, and the appropriate academic background, for example, in soil science, ecology, earth system science, physical geography, hydrology, biogeochemistry, forestry ecology, and micrometerology, and other suitable subjects, to analyze the large EC data. You are required to regularly visit the sites year-round to collect gas samples from static chambers, and maintain the proper function of EC tower, analyze the sample in the lab, write high-quality manuscripts for peer-reviewed publication in the high impact journals, presentation in international/national conferences, and other requirement for a Ph.D. degree.

Ph.D. 2 and 3: Modeling the impacts of human disturbances and climate change on greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O)) in boreal peatlands.

Two Ph.D. students are available to further develop and apply the McGill Wetland Model (MWM), which has coupled with Holocene Peatland Model (HPM), a cohort peatland model that can dynamically model the peat properties of each peat cohort, and incorporated the microbial dynamics and N, P cycling in peatlands, to fully assess the potential and responses of peatlands to climate change, human disturbances and restoration. The following aspects are the potential candidates to be incorporated: (1) a new soil hydrology module in MWM that is fully coupled with the C dynamics of peatlands to simulate soil temperature and moisture, and water table depth, which will be the key hydrological variables in peatlands to regulate the C and GHG dynamics and are likely to change with disturbance; (2) a new module of CH4 and N2O cycling and DOC in MWM for peatlands that will function with natural as well as disturbed and restored peatlands; (3) a vegetation dynamics module in MWM to simulate the changes/shifts of vegetation composition in peatlands under climate change, human disturbance and restoration; (4) evaluating the newly further developed and adapted MWM at a suite of natural peatland sites and disturbed peatland sites and restored peatland sites; and (5) the newly developed and adapted MWM will be used to simulate how natural peatlands, disturbed peatlands, and restored/reclaimed respond to climate change using difference scenarios of climate changes in the next 100 years. 

You are required to have: excellent oral and written communication skills in English; appropriate academic background, for example, in soil science, ecology, earth system science, physical geography, hydrology, biogeochemistry, forestry ecology, and micrometerology, and other suitable subjects; strong numerical analytical skills; experience with process-based ecosystem modeling; A good understanding of peatland/wetland biogeochemistry, wetland/peatland hydrology and biophysical drivers of peatland/wetland processes; experience in computer programming (for example, Fortran, or C, C++) preferred. You are also required to write high-quality manuscript for peer-reviewed publication in the high impact journals, presentation in international/national conferences, and other requirement for a Ph.D. degree.

If you are interested in either of the three positions, please send a letter of motivation/research statement, evidence of English Proficiency (if required for international students), up-to-date curriculum vitae, unofficial transcripts, and a copy of any publication (if available) to Dr. Jianghua Wu at jwu@grenfell.mun.ca with subject "Ph.D. studentship". Reviewing is started immediately after your files are received.  Only the potentially selected candidates will be contacted for further discussions. Please see more details about Dr. Wu's group here.

The ICAN program (Interlaboratory Collaboration for Analytical Nanogeochemistry) is seeking an enthusiastic PhD student with an explorer’s mindset, to undertake foundational studies in the emerging research areas of environmental and analytical nanogeochemistry. 

Analytical methods such as field-flow fractionation coupled to ICP-MS and single-particle ICP-TOFMS are capable of separating and simultaneously measuring the size and concentration of dozens of elements in individual particles with sizes between 1 nm and 5 µm. These and other new methods provide unprecedented potential for measuring and understanding the origins, transport, transformations, and bioaccessibility of the smallest particles and macromolecules; however, challenges remain for the optimization of sample analysis, data collection and interpretation. The need to develop and optimize algorithms and computing capacity to analyze the large amount of data produced by spICP-TOFMS also limits progress. Connecting these results to natural conditions requires the development and testing of sampling and storage methods. Connecting the integrated properties of nanoscale particle systems to their environmental roles and impacts requires innovative conceptual and experimental approaches. 

This position provides an exciting opportunity to undertake research in the nascent interdisciplinary field of environmental nanogeochemistry, by learning and applying knowledge from analytical chemistry, data science & statistics, geochemistry, and nanoscience. The position will be grounded at the Grenfell Campus of the Memorial University of Newfound in beautiful Corner Brook, NL, but travel to undertake research at other universities in Canada will be part of the program and international travel is probable. A background in analytical chemistry and statistics or data science is necessary. A start date of Jan. 2023 is preferred, but the spring semester is possible in exceptional circumstances. 

To apply, please send your cover letter with statement of interest, CV and transcripts to Dr. Chad W. Cuss at chadcuss@grenfell.mun.ca with the subject line “APPLICATION: PhD in Analytical Nanogeochemistry”. Applications will be accepted until end of day on July 31, 2022. 

The ICAN program and Memorial University are committed to employment equity and diversity. While all qualified individuals are encouraged to apply, applications are especially welcome from qualified individuals identifying as members of one or more of the following underrepresented groups: first-generation university students; Indigenous peoples; people with disabilities; people of any sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; visible minorities and racialized people; and women. Applicants are invited to identify themselves as a member of any or several of these designated group(s) in their cover letter as appropriate. This information will be treated as strictly confidential, and will be destroyed after the recruitment process is complete. Applicants from a designated group who choose not to specify the group may instead identify themselves as “a member of a nonspecific designated group”.

Office of the Registrar

Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland
20 University Drive, Corner Brook, NL
A2H 5G4, Canada

Office: AS 277
Phone: (709) 637-6298
Email: info@grenfell.mun.ca

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