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).