PhD project in fire spread modelling and fire risk mapping in the eastern Canadian taiga

We are seeking an outstanding PhD candidate to conduct a thesis in fire risk simulation in the fire-prone eastern Canadian taiga. The project will be undertaken at the University of Quebec at Rimouski (UQAR; http://labdendro.uqar.ca) in collaboration with the Canadian Forest Service, Laval University and the University of Quebec in Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT). The thesis will be part of a larger multidisciplinary project funded by NSERC, the Ouranos consortium, Hydro-Québec and Manitoba Hydro, that will focus on mapping the fire risk and performing a cost-benefit analysis of fire mitigation scenarios.

The selected candidate will be responsible for using a fire spread model (the Burn-P3 model) to map burn probabilities across a large hydroelectric complex (300 000 km2) in northern Québec. An important challenge will be to parameterize the simulations in order to generate realistic fire activity (number and size of fires), as well as to reproduce the negative feedback on burn rates due to the low fuel loads of young forest stands. The candidate will do a MITACS internship hosted by Manitoba Hydro to facilitate knowledge transfer and application of the methodology developed from the Quebec case study to Manitoba.

The candidate will actively contribute to the production and interpretation of data and to the writing of scientific manuscripts. He/she will be mainly under the supervision of Marc-André Parisien, Yan Boulanger and Dominique Arseneault and will benefit from the diverse expertise of our team members in the fields of fire ecology, fire spread modelling and statistical modeling. The candidate will be awarded a financial support of $21,000 (Canadian dollars) per year for a period of three years. Additional funding may be available.

We are looking for a candidate with a master degree (MSc) in a relevant field (forestry, biology, geography, environmental sciences). The successful candidate will possess an excellent academic record, as well as strong analytical and problem-solving skills. This person should be able to work with autonomy, curiosity, discipline, motivation and determination and to work effectively within a team and have excellent writing skills. GIS and R programming skills would also be precious assets. Knowledge of French is an asset but is not mandatory.

The project will begin as soon as possible, preferably in September 2017. Interested candidates must submit a letter of motivation, their academic transcripts, as well as the contact information of three references to Dominique Arseneault (dominique_arseneault@uqar.ca).

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