PhD: Securing ecosystem services by diversifying cropping systems. 

Description: We seek a PhD student (or highly motivated MSc) to characterize the agronomic and ecological attributes of a wide variety of crops for their potential use in diversifying arable cropping systems to promote soil health and other ecosystem services including sustainable yields.

The main objectives of the project is to screen a wide variety of crops for their ecological and agricultural attributes with the intention to build a knowledgebase for the various cover crops that may be implemented in Atlantic Canada to (1) protect and restore soil health in intensive production systems and (2) promote ecosystem services provided by arable lands (i.e. plant beneficial mycorrhizae, plant pollination, biodiversity and yield). The candidate will be involved in leading fieldwork for data collection on plant above and belowground traits as well as soil sampling and processing for characterizing soil biodiversity using next generation sequencing. These data will be used to make informed predictions for their incorporation into diversifying cropping systems (i.e. use in rotation or in diverse mixtures). The candidate 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 successful candidate will join a dynamic and multidisciplinary team of researchers at the Fredericton Research and Development and Center (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) on a 4-year, program in the Department of Biology at the University of New Brunswick. 

Start date: 1 Sept 2019 (latest) 

Type: The project is for a fully funded four year program. The candidate will be encouraged to apply for scholarships and teaching assistantships. 

Dr. Cameron Wagg (AAFC, Fredericton)
Prof. Amy Parachnowitsch (UNB, Department of Biology) 

Qualifications: Preference will be given to prospective students that have:

  • A degree in Plant and/or Soil Ecology, Agronomy, or related fields
  • An interest in incorporating ecological theory and concepts into agricultural practices
  • A valid driver’s license (or equivalent)
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English
  • Knowledge of experimental design and statistical programs (R) would be an asset

Application: Those interested should first email Dr. Cameron Wagg ( and cc Prof. Amy Parachnowitsch ( the following:

  • a letter of interest (1 page)
  • a CV describing qualifications and experience
  • unofficial transcripts
  • contact information for three references

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.  Informal inquiries to gain more information about the positions are also welcome.