M.Sc. Position Available, Department of Biology, University of Victoria

Biodiversity of Phytoplankton from the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans: using molecular tools to understand biological oceanography

Department of Biology

University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada

We are looking for a highly motivated candidate for a 2-year M.Sc. research project in the Department of Biology at the University of Victoria (https://www.uvic.ca/science/biology/), commencing in January 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. This position is part of an exciting project: “Oceans of Biodiversity” (https://www.foodfromthought.ca/oceans-of-biodiversity/), which aims to characterize the distribution and diversity of marine organisms through high-throughput DNA barcoding and other molecular genetic approaches.

The genetic diversity of marine phytoplankton is vastly under-characterized. This project will develop methods and undertake metabarcoding of mixed-species assemblages of phytoplankton from the subarctic North Pacific Ocean and the Pacific Arctic region (Bering and Chukchi Seas).  Through the use of state-of-the-art molecular sequencing techniques, microscopy and computation, the student will analyze samples collected during oceanographic cruises to provide detailed information of the composition of phytoplankton assemblages.  In parallel, the student will focus the attention to those diatom taxa responsible for harmful effects on fin- and shellfish fisheries and aquaculture, and on natural fish and avian populations through the production of domoic acid.

This project is ideal for a student with a strong background in cell and molecular biology and knowledge of marine biology, interested in the application of these techniques to environmental science. The student will be co-supervised by Dr. Ryan Gawryluk (Department of Biology) and Dr. Diana Varela (Department of Biology, and School of Earth and Ocean Sciences), and will have opportunities to interact with other researchers at the University of Victoria and across Canada through their participation in the “Oceans of Biodiversity” and “Food from Thought” projects.

Preference will be given to a student with an excellent academic standing (GPA > 7/9 in the UVic scale or 3.3/4), and appropriate background. Applications are open to international candidates as well as Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.

Applicants should submit a resume highlighting their previous research experience, copies of university transcripts (undergraduate and graduate as appropriate – unofficial copies are adequate at this stage) and a brief statement of scientific and academic interests to both: Drs. Ryan Gawryluk (ryangawryluk@uvic.ca) and Diana Varela (dvarela@uvic.ca).


Funded PhD Position in Forest Health at the University of Toronto

I am looking for an enthusiastic and creative graduate student to undertake a PhD in spatial ecology and forest health in Forestry at the U of T (forestry.utoronto.ca). Work in our lab aims to improve understanding of landscape-level disturbance and recovery processes in forest ecosystems to inform sustainable resource management.

I am specifically looking for students interested in studying the cumulative effects of forest disturbances on forest health. Possible projects include:

1)    Exploring how the spatial legacies of forest insect outbreaks affect fire activity

2)    Examining the cumulative effects of multiple disturbances on wildlife habitat quantity, quality, and connectivity

3)    Forecasting future disturbance interactions under climate and land-use change using spatially explicit simulation models

The successful applicant should have an MSc, a strong background in ecology, an interest in forestry and forest conservation, and experience with quantitative analysis and statistics (e.g., R).

Funding is available at a level of $18,000/year for 4 years. Please note that this funding opportunity is available only to Canadian citizens and permanent residents. The targeted start date is January 2020.

To apply, please send a short letter of motivation and a copy of your CV to: patrick.james@utoronto.ca.

More information on the lab can be found here : www.jameslab.ca


Grad student positions in Marine Mammal Ecology and Ecotoxicology Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University. Start date: January or until filled.

The Ecological Change and Environmental Stressors Lab seeks highly motivated applicants for Master’s and PhD positions. Our group works within the fields of marine ecology and ecotoxicology, focusing on the trophic ecology and food webs of Arctic marine mammals. We use ecological tracers, including stable isotopes and fatty acids, to assess trophic relationships, habitat use, and feeding habits. This work addresses applied questions regarding the influence of rapid warming and sea ice loss on the feeding and food web relationships of native and northward range-shifting species within Arctic marine ecosystems. A key aspect involves investigating how ecological changes interact with other anthropogenic stressors facing wildlife, particularly contaminants such as mercury and persistent organic pollutants. Students will develop projects combining field, lab, and data analysis approaches, and will collaborate with Canadian and international academic, government, and Inuit community partners. Projects entail potential for Arctic fieldwork and opportunities to present at national and international conferences.

We seek highly motivated students holding a Bachelor’s degree (Master’s degree for PhD candidates) or equivalent from an accredited university in natural resources, ecology, environmental chemistry, environmental science, toxicology or a closely related field, preferably with experience in one or more of the following:

  • Laboratory analysis of stable isotopes, fatty acids, or contaminants in animal tissues or other matrices
  • Analytical instrumentation (e.g., GC, HPLC, MS)
  • Field sampling and/or identification
  • Statistical analysis of biological or environmental data (e.g., in R)

Potential students will have to apply to the Department of Natural Resource Sciences at McGill, which has strict admission standards (min GPA of 3.0/4.0, or 3.2/4.0 in the last two years). Transcripts, letters of support, CV, and a strong personal statement are part of the application. Deadlines for winter term (Jan 2020 start date) are Oct. 15th for Canadian applicants (Aug. 31st for international applicants) or, for fall term (Sept. 2020 start date), are May 31st for Canadian applicants (Mar. 15th for international applicants).

McGill University is Canada’s premiere university for research excellence and teaching, is one of the top 50 universities worldwide, and was recently named the International Sustainability Institution of the Year. The Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is located at McGill’s Macdonald Campus, just 30 km from vibrant downtown Montreal, providing students with both urban culture and recreational opportunities. Graduate students at Mac campus are ¼ of the student body and the campus houses 8 graduate programs and 100+ faculty members.

McGill University is committed to diversity and equity and welcomes applications from: women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, persons of minority sexual orientation or gender identity, visible minorities, and others who may contribute to diversification.

For more information on the Ecological Change and Environmental Stressors Lab, the Department of Natural Resource Sciences, and McGill University, please visit: http://mckinneylab.weebly.com ; http://mcgill.cahttp://mcgill.ca/nrs

Annual student stipends will be provided, with opportunities for supplementation through applications for scholarships and teaching assistantships.

Please send a letter indicating your research experience and goals, a CV, and unofficial transcripts to Melissa McKinney, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair, at melissa.mckinney@mcgill.ca.


Offre de doctorat: Impacts de la migration assistée de gènes sur la productivité forestière au Canada – une approche dendroécologique. Date limite de candidature : 30 août 2019.

Type d’offre : Offre de thèse

Salaire : Bourse annuelle de 22000 dollars canadiens pendant 3 ans (PhD), ou salaire annuel imposable de ~45000 pour 18 mois (Postdoc)

Établissement d’accueil : Université du Québec à Montréal

Lieu de travail : Centre de foresterie des Laurentides, Ville de Québec, QC, Canada

Spécialité : Environnement – Environnement, Énergie, Ressources naturelles – Écologie – Foresterie – Génétique

Date limite de candidature : 30 août 2019

Description du sujet de thèse :

Les pays ont convenu que des réductions profondes des émissions mondiales nettes de gaz à effet de serre (GES) sont nécessaires pour maintenir l’augmentation de la température moyenne mondiale à moins de 2 ° C. Les activités d’atténuation liées aux forêts joueront un rôle important dans ces efforts. Entre-autre, les programmes de migration assistée d’individus présentant un fort potentiel d’adaptation contribueront à améliorer le taux de croissance des arbres en augmentant la résilience des arbres face aux stress environnementaux et climatiques. Bien qu’ils puissent contribuer à stabiliser la santé des forêts, ces efforts pourraient également contribuer à l’atténuation des changements climatiques via l’acquisition de carbone. Ce potentiel d’atténuation lié aux forêts suscite toutefois des incertitudes, car les changements climatiques pourraient générer des impacts négatifs, c’est-à-dire que la migration assistée de gènes pourrait entraîner d’autres risques si les pools génétiques déplacés ne sont pas adaptés aux nouvelles conditions.

Les objectifs de cette recherche sont d’évaluer les impacts de la migration assistée de gènes sur la productivité primaire nette (PPN) à long terme pour les espèces principales de conifères au Canada. Cela se fera par l’utilisation d’un échantillonnage dendroécologique provenant d’un réseau canadien de dispositifs expérimentaux (jardins communs) au sein desquels se retrouvent des individus appartenant aux populations représentatives de l’aire de distribution des essences forestières boréales canadiennes (e.g. épinette noire). La dendroécologie permet d’évaluer, de façon rétrospective, les contraintes climatiques qui ont davantage affecté la croissance d’un arbre.  Ce contexte de recherche fournira également un cadre de modélisation basé sur les processus dans lequel les effets de la migration assistée de gènes sur les taux futurs de PPN seront examinés. En particulier, les travaux 1) développeront une analyse rétrospective de la PPN et de sa réponse aux conditions climatiques passées au sein des espèces, des populations, de la durée de vie des arbres et des jardins communs en tenant compte de la variabilité génétique, 2) rechercheront des signes d’adaptation locale dans les populations pour lesquelles des données génomiques sont disponibles et 3) évalueront le potentiel d’atténuation ou de risque de la migration assistée de gènes dans le cadre d’une exposition future aux changements climatiques.

Le (la) candidat(e) sélectionné(e) aura la responsabilité de procéder à l’analyse des données dendroécologiques provenant de parcelles d’échantillonnage permanent d’un réseau de jardins communs distribués au Canada. La personne sélectionnée devra également examiner les processus écophysiologiques en cause. La personne sélectionnée pourrait être également appelé à effectuer une campagne terrain. Elle devra également procéder à de la modélisation. Pour ce faire, elle bénéficiera d’aide technique et statistique pour l’aider à accomplir son projet. La personne sélectionnée pourra notamment compter sur les services d’un assistant en modélisation du climat, ainsi que d’un statisticien / programmeur, un technicien expérimenté dans les bases de données spécialisées et les SIG, un autre technicien ayant une expertise en dendrochronologie et un autre en analyses chimiques. Le (la) candidat(e) sélectionné(e) aura la possibilité de collaborer avec le laboratoire d’écogénomique du Centre de foresterie des Laurentides (CFL) dirigé par Dr Nathalie Isabel et les chercheurs du Centre canadien sur la fibre de bois.

Lieu d’étude

Situé à Québec (Québec), le Centre de foresterie des Laurentides (CFL) mène des activités d’acquisition et de diffusion des connaissances sur les forêts. Les employés utilisent une infrastructure de pointe, ce qui comprend des laboratoires de biologie moléculaire, de télédétection, de géomatique et de modélisation, afin de mener des recherches dans des domaines tels que le changement climatique, l’écologie forestière, la biologie des parasites des forêts, l’écogénomique et la dynamique et la productivité de l’écosystème forestier. Pour soutenir ses recherches, le CFL possède également une collection d’insectes et de champignons, une station expérimentale à Valcartier, un arboretum, des serres et plusieurs parcelles expérimentales à l’échelle du Québec.

Profil des candidats :

Des informations détaillées sur les exigences nécessaires au programme de doctorat à l’Université du Québec à Montréal sont disponibles sur ce site : http://doctoratenv.uqam.ca/

Le ou la candidat(e) sélectionné(e) aura la responsabilité de concevoir, élaborer et effectuer des études de recherche en biologie forestière et climatologie. Cette personne fixera des priorités pour la recherche, mettra au point des techniques de recherche et des méthodologies d’analyse. Elle aura la responsabilité d’analyser, interpréter et présenter les données en vue de publications dans des revues scientifiques. Le travail exige une connaissance approfondie des théories et des principes d’un domaine particulier des disciplines scientifiques reliées aux études de recherche, notamment les capacités d’analyse statistique nécessaires pour mener, évaluer et interpréter des études scientifiques pertinentes au projet. Des habiletés en rédaction sont nécessaires pour préparer des manuscrits dédiés à des revues scientifiques et des rapports techniques. Le programme de doctorat nécessite notamment la rédaction d’une thèse sur le sujet de recherche.

Les candidat(e)s sont invité(e)s à envoyer une lettre de motivation, CV complet, adresses de deux références et les relevés de notes de leurs études précédentes par courrier électronique à l’intention de :

Martin P. Girardin Biol. Ph.D.
Chercheur scientifique
Service canadien des forêts
Centre de Foresterie des Laurentides
1055, rue du P.E.P.S.
Case postale 10380 Succ Sainte-Foy,
Québec, Qc
G1V 4C7
Tel: (418) 648-5826
Fax: (418) 648-5849
E-mail: martin.girardin@canada.ca
Web: http://www.cef-cfr.ca/index.php?n=Membres.MartinGirardin


Opportunity to apply for an interesting PhD-student position in Jyväskylä, Finland!


The genetic basis of adaptation and adaptive potential is a fundamental and timely question in evolutionary biology. Habitat fragmentation, pollution, overexploitation and climate change are examples of human activities that can affect the adaptive potential of a species. This project uses fisheries as an example of human activity affecting populations’ adaptive potential.

Fisheries remove enormous amounts of fish from the ecosystem and typically target the largest individuals in a stock, thus generate strong directional selection. After certain amount of time, fisheries have reduced the population size and average individual body size to a level, where fishing is no longer profitable. At this point, fishing is typically stopped and populations are allowed to recover. IFan exploited population shows a sign of recovery, closed fisheries tend to be reopened, although it is not certain whether the population is resilient enough to any level of exploitation. The past fisheries selection has likely reduced phenotypic and genetic variation, thus eroded adaptive potential. The project utilizes experimentally harvested and recovered zebrafish (Danio rerio) populations to study the effects of harvesting on adaptive potential and whether these changes have reversed during the recovery. We will expose the recovered populations to re-harvesting and to an environmental stressor to see whether the recovered populations are resilient to new selection pressures.

The main questions of this project are:

  1. What is the recovery rate of the exploited fish populations at phenotypic (body size, growth rate, reproductive success) and genetic level (sequence and epigenetic)?
  2. How has the past selection affected the adaptive potential of the exploited fish populations? This question will be addressed by studying how resilient the recovered populations are to a) new selection pressures (e.g. thermal stress) and b) re-harvesting.

We are looking for a candidate who is highly motivated and has a background in evolutionary biology (Master’s degree in biology or related area). The candidate should have good statistical skills and preferably be familiar working with R and Unix. Experience in genetic lab work is a benefit. We will provide training in animal husbandry, experimental evolution, genetics/genomics, bioinformatics and statistics. Working language is English. The project is supervised by Dr. Silva Uusi-Heikkilä and Prof. Phillip Watts.

Further information: Academy Research Fellow Silva Uusi-Heikkilä, Email silva.k.uusi-heikkila@jyu.fi


Uusi-Heikkilä S et al. (2015) The evolutionary legacy of size-selective harvesting extends from genes to populations. Evolutionary Applications 8, 597-620.

Uusi-Heikkilä S et al. (2017) Rapid, broad-scale gene expression evolution in experimentally harvested fish populations. Molecular Ecology 26, 3954-3967.



Project description:




A postdoctoral position is available in the laboratory of Dr. Sophie Breton at the Université de Montréal (http://labobreton.ca/) to study the role of mitochondria and their genomes in adaptation and speciation processes. This project takes a multidisciplinary approach using epigenetic, genetic, transcriptomic, epigenomic, and biochemical methods in different animal/organismal model systems, including yeasts, bivalves and flatworms. The successful applicant will have the opportunity for independent and novel research in an innovative new laboratory.

The position is available immediately, and is renewable annually depending upon progress. Applicants should have recently obtained a Ph.D degree in molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, or a related field. The ideal candidate is expected to be self-motivated, resourceful, with a record of scientific rigor, productivity, and creativity; the ability to work both independently and as part of a team; and a strong publication record. Excellent oral and written communication skills are required. Those with interest and experience in mitochondrial biology, genetics and epigenetics such as DNA methylation are strongly encouraged to apply. Prior experience in Southern, Northern and Western analysis and immunoprecipitation is beneficial. The successful candidate is expected to design and perform experiments and interpret data independently.

Interested applicants should email a cover letter with the description of research interests and experience, curriculum vitae, and contact information of two references (in pdf format) to s.breton@umontreal.ca



PhD Position in evolutionary mitochondrial biology in Montreal. Application deadline: September 15, 2019.

An opportunity is available for a PhD position in the research group of Dr Sophie Breton at the Université de Montréal.

Project: Organisms respond to environmental factors over time in two ways: (i) short-term changes during their lifetime (e.g. epigenetic modifications and gene expression changes) and (ii) long-term changes across generations, i.e. heritable evolutionary responses, resulting in genetically distinct populations – potentially even new species. While empirical examples of rapid responses and evolutionary adaptations involving nuclear epigenetic variation (in the form of DNA methylation) and genetic variation (through the evolution of lineage-specific or adaptive genes or ORFan genes) exist from a range of animals and plants, the importance of mitochondria (the powerhouse of cells) and their genomes (mtDNA) in promoting adaptation to both short- and long-term environmental changes using the same mechanisms is still largely unexplored. This major knowledge gap is surprising given the pivotal role of mitochondria in cell survival and functions, aging and human diseases. The team of Dr Sophie Breton (Canada Research Chair in Evolutionray Mitochondrial Biology) is interested in this fundamental knowledge gap in our understanding of adaptation and speciation processes through the use an integrative approach combining epigenomics, transcriptomics, physiology and cell biology to investigate the capacity of mitochondria and their genomes to adapt to changing environments. The PhD project will focus specifically on the estimation of the prevalence of mtORFans and their putative function(s). Bivalves, with their sex-specific mt-encoded proteins with (still unknown) functions other than energy production, and/or yeast (S. cerevisiae), with their important mitochondrial genome size, will offer unique opportunities to test the hypothesis that like the nuclear DNA, the mtDNA possesses several overlooked small protein-coding genes that have key functions and are important sources of functional novelty.

The starting date is scheduled for May or September 2020 at the Université de Montréal, under the supervision of Sophie Breton. A $ 17,000 / year scholarship is offered for three years with funding available for a fourth year, but the successful candidate will be invited to submit an application to the FRQNT and NSERC as early as autumn 2019.

Qualifications: – Be highly motivated and determined to complete graduated studies; – Publication experience in scientific journals is valued; – Have a good academic record (the minimum rating to be admitted is 3.2 / 4.3); – Having experience in cell / molecular biology is an important asset.

Interested students should contact Sophie Breton s.breton@umontreal.ca before September 15, 2019 and attach a CV, academic transcript, contact details of two academic referees, and a brief description of their research interests.


PhD position, University of Alberta

I am recruiting a PhD to start May or September, 2020. The successful recruit will have an interest in the intersection of mycorrhizal ecology and plant biogeography and/or biogeochemistry. Students must be eligible to apply for internal and external awards, which means a GPA of at least a 3.7, and most likely higher. A MSc in ecology or extensive experience in undergraduate research is required. Stipend is $24,000 (Canadian) per year for three years. I offer a creative research environment, intellectual freedom, and independence. Please email a CV, and in less than 500 words, a rough roadmap of your PhD to justine.karst@ualberta.ca

Lab website: https://karstlab.ualberta.ca/

Info on grad studies in the department: https://www.ualberta.ca/agriculture-life-environment-sciences/programs/graduate-programs/prospective-students/renewable-resources/phd-programs


MSc or PhD position in invasion macroecology at Saint Mary’s University Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

We are looking for a graduate student interested in working on global patterns of invasive species and the drivers influencing these patterns. The student will use a large earthworm database compiled by the sWORM working group and conduct additional literature searches to build a dataset on global earthworm invasions. Students with prior experience and/or enthusiasm for assembling and handling large datasets, data synthesis, and statistical modelling (in R or similar) are particularly encouraged to apply. This project will involve collaboration with Prof. Nico Eisenhauer and Dr. Helen Phillips at iDiv (Leipzig, Germany), as well as other members of the sWORM working group, and likely will include at least one trip to work at iDiv.

Start date: January, April, or Sept 2020.

Location: The student would be based at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia and supervised by Erin Cameron. For further information on this project and our research group, go to:

Funding: The Applied Science graduate program guarantees a minimum stipend of $17,000/year. The student will be encouraged to apply for external scholarships as well. This position is open to Canadian or international students, but tuition costs are high for non-Canadians so additional funding would be needed.

To apply: If interested, please send a CV, transcript, a short cover letter describing your interest and experience, and the names of 2 references to: erin.cameron@smu.ca Applications will be accepted until a suitable candidate is found, but those received by June 25 will be given priority.


PhD project on the impact of establishing fast-growing plantations with exotic species on natural biodiversity

Intensively managed forest plantations are used to produce large quantities of wood on limited land areas. In 2010, the total area of planted forests was only 7% of natural forest areas worldwide, while their contribution was about 40% of global fiber needs (FAO 2010). Although there is increasing evidence that mixed-species plantations should be favoured over tree monocultures, monoculture plantations are still more common than mixtures of species or clones because they are more convenient to manage. In 2006, plantations with more than one genotype represented less than 0.1% of the total area of industrial plantations worldwide.
When compared to natural forest stands, tree monocultures decrease biodiversity across the landscape and affect a wide spectrum of other plant and animal species, ranging from soil microorganisms to macrofauna. For this reason, monocultures have been described by some as “biodiversity deserts”. In addition, exhaustion of soil nutrients, deterioration of soil physical and chemical properties are often associated to monocultures. Current studies have shown that mixing cultivars or species may positively affect biotic and abiotic environments through optimal use of nutrients according to niche differentiation theory and in this way, enhance specific and functional biodiversity relative to monospecific plantations. For instance, in young plantations that we established in northwestern Quebec, mixing hybrid poplar clones resulted in slightly greater aboveground growth, lower root:shoot ratios, and different spatial root distributions, when compared to monocultures. We also recently found that collembola abundance and litter decomposition rates increased in mixed plantations of poplar and spruce, and that herbaceous species present in old fields helped litter decomposition and nutrient cycling and hence strongly influenced carbon (C) sequestration in these plantations. Nonetheless, some plantations can have a highly diverse understory of indigenous plants species; this is likely the case of Quebec’s plantations where the use of herbicides is prohibited and weed maintenance is mainly done mechanically over only a few years after plantation.

The objective of this project is to evaluate the effect of clonal/species mixtures in intensively managed fast-growing plantations on species composition and functional diversity of understory plants compared to hybrid poplar monocultures.

Start date: September 2019
Location: The student will be based at a forest research institute (IRF, http://www.uqat.ca/programmes/irf/) at the UQAT campus in Amos. In addition, the student will be member of the Sustainable Forest Management research chair (http://chaireafd.uqat.ca/) and the Center for Forest Research (http://www.cef-cfr.ca). The IRF team is dynamic and offers ideal working conditions for students, while the region is very active culturally and offers a high quality of life thanks to its many outdoor activities.
Funding: $ 21,000 / year scholarship for 3 years.
To apply: Email your resume, a letter of motivation and transcripts to Annie DesRochers (annie.desrochers@uqat.ca) and Nicole Fenton (nicole.fenton@uqat.ca).

Annie DesRochers professeure/professor UQAT (http://www.cef-cfr.ca/index.php?n=Membres.Anniedesrochers) Nicole Fenton, professeure/professor UQAT (http://www.cef-cfr.ca/index.php?n=Membres.NicoleFenton)