PhD opportunity in Ecology: Evaluating disturbance-mediated vegetation change and climate-change refugia potential in boreal forests

Dept. of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta (
Dept. of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta (
Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre (
Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (

Position: Ph.D., University of Alberta (Renewable Resources or Biological Sciences Department)

Stipend: $26,500/yr

Apply by: 15 April 2019 (or until position is filled)

Start date: 1 May 2019 (preferable) to 1 Sept 2019 (latest)

Type: Study scope pre-determined. 3 years fully grant-funded. (NSERC Research funding will cover research expenses as well as three years of a Ph.D. student stipend. It is assumed that the student will be able to obtain a student scholarship or teaching assistantship to cover the fourth year.)

The successful candidate will join a dynamic team of researchers on a 3-year, fully funded program studying the resilience of boreal forest landscapes to combined influences of drought and wildfire. This project will involve an analysis of field-collected and remotely sensed vegetation and soil data to evaluate (1) how drought (climate change risk) alters post-fire disturbance recovery dynamics and overall forest ecosystem function, and (2) which landscape factors are associated with enhanced forest resilience.

Fieldwork for this project will include summer vegetation and soil sampling, based out of remote field camps in northern Alberta. The PhD student will be involved in developing the study design; conducting field sampling activities; managing, analyzing and synthesizing data; communicating with government and industry partners; and disseminating results through peer-reviewed publications and presentations.

The four-year degree program will consist of coursework and a thesis containing three to four chapters intended for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Results will inform conservation and management priorities in a changing climate.

Dr. Scott Nielsen (
Dr. Kevin Devito (
Dr. Erin Bayne (

Qualifications: M.Sc. in ecology or related field (e.g. biology, natural resources, geography, or forestry); min. 3.0 GPA for past 2 years of study, or equivalent.

Required: GIS and statistical skills; remote outdoor/field experience; initiative; dependability; ability to work in a team setting.

Assets: Familiarity with boreal forest ecosystems (plants and landforms) and responses to climate change; valid driver’s license; experience with all-terrain vehicles

Instructions: Please submit a cover letter describing your research interests, experience, and qualifications for this position, as well as a curriculum vitae, and contact information for three professional references to Dr. Scott Nielsen at and Dr. Diana Stralberg at We thank all applicants for their interest; only selected applicants will be contacted for an interview.