Aerial Survey Postdoctoral Fellow

Term: 2 years

Salary: $65,000/year plus health benefits

Start date: 1 April 2024

Closing date: Review beginning 22 January 2024, but remaining open until the right candidate is found.

Position Contact: * * William Halliday,

Application Link:

Position Summary

We are seeking a highly qualified candidate for a post doctoral fellowship to work on a project focused on using aerial surveys to assess the distribution and abundance of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus), ringed seals (Pusa hispida), and bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus) in the western Canadian Arctic, including ground-truthing of aerial surveys for ringed seals. The candidate may also be involved in analyses of the diet of ringed and bearded seals. The candidate will work closely with Dr. William Halliday and Dr. Stephen Insley with Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada (, Dr. Francis Juanes at the University of Victoria, and Ellen Lea with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and would be based in the Department of Biology at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, although candidates may also have the option to be based at Yukon University in Whitehorse, Yukon if interested. The fellowship will be for a two-year term. This fellowship will focus on three main tasks: 1) aerial surveys for bowhead whales and ringed seals during spring 2024 and 2025, including analysis of survey data include a ringed seal survey from spring 2023; 2) ground-truthing ringed seal aerial survey data using data from snow machine surveys and cameras traps for haul-out behaviour; and 3) examining the diet of ringed and bearded seals based on samples collected from community harvesters. Beyond data analysis and writing scientific publications, the post doctoral fellow will be involved in all aerial survey fieldwork, meetings with Inuvialuit community groups, grant management, and grant report writing. There may be opportunities to be involved in aerial surveys for eiders in the same region, including some data analysis.

The fellowship will be funded through a Mitacs Elevate Post Doctoral Fellowship (, with Dr. Juanes at the University of Victoria as the academic supervisor and WCS Canada as the partner organization. The selected candidate will be expected to apply for the Mitacs fellowship with assistance and guidance from the supervisors. The yearly salary will be $65,000/year and will include extended health benefits.

The successful candidate must be self motivated and be able to work independently, have a strong interest in marine conservation, have a strong background in spatial statistics, and ideally have experience analyzing aerial survey data. Experience with diet analyses would be considered an asset. The majority of time will be spent analyzing data and writing manuscripts, but may also include 2-4 weeks of field work per year in the Canadian Arctic to conduct aerial surveys. The following experience will also be considered an asset: conducting aerial surveys; working in remote locations; and working with or communicating research to Indigenous individuals and communities. The successful candidate must hold a PhD by the start date of this fellowship, should have a strong record of scholarly publications, and should meet eligibility criteria for the Mitacs Elevate fellowship. Interested candidates should send a cover letter, CV, and names and email addresses of two references as a single PDF to Dr. William Halliday (, and can apply officially through BambooHR: This application will remain open until the right candidate is found for the position, with review of applications starting 22 January 2024.

Position Objectives:

  • Quantify the distribution and abundance of bowhead whales and ringed seals in the western Canadian Arctic
  • Ground-truth ringed seal aerial survey data
  • Quantify the diet of ringed and bearded seals
  • Help design, implement, and manage data from aerial surveys
  • Help to build and maintain relationships with Inuvialuit partners

Principal Responsibilities:

  • Process and manage aerial survey data
  • Statistical analyses
  • Writing manuscripts and reports
  • Giving presentations on results to Inuvialuit partners and at scientific conferences
  • Grant reporting and management
  • Field work to conduct aerial surveys in the Canadian Arctic
  • Support WCS Canada’s goal of transforming WCS Canada’s conservation practice through reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

  • Contribute to creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace that promotes engagement and belonging.

Required Qualifications/Skills/Experience

  • PhD in biology, oceanography, or a related field with a strong computational/analytical background.
  • Experience with analyses of aerial survey data.
  • Statistical analyses of large datasets.
  • Strong record of scholarly publications.
  • Ability to work both independently and within a team on multiple projects concurrently.
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Excellent communication skills, both oral and written, and an ability to share complex science in way that connects with Indigenous people, the public, and decision-makers.
  • Strong problem-solving skills, detail oriented, and resourceful.
  • A passion for the conservation of nature and wildlife.

About WCS Canada

WCS Canada ( was established as a Canadian conservation organization in July 2004. We are committed to championing accessibility, diversity, and equal opportunity. Our mission is to save wildlife and wild places by improving our understanding of and seeking solutions to critical problems that threaten key species and large wild ecosystems throughout Canada. We implement and support comprehensive field studies that gather information on wildlife needs and then seek to resolve key conservation problems by working with a broad array of actors. WCS Canada has a track record of our science being recognized as relevant, credible and legitimate by researchers, NGOs and agencies. WCS Canada is independently registered and managed, while retaining a strong collaborative working relationship with sister Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) programs in more than 60 countries.

Diversity and inclusion are core WCS Canada values. We value the diversity of the people we employ and work with and we strive to provide an inclusive and equitable workplace in which we recognize the unique characteristics, skills and experiences of all employees. We are committed to engaging our employees in our diversity, equity and inclusion work and together we aim to create a workplace where all staff feel they belong and can grow.

WCS Canada’s programs occur on the homelands of Indigenous Peoples whose relationships various governments are described in historic (numbered) Treaties, modern land claim agreements, and negotiations around unceded lands. We recognize and support the international ecological and social commitments and responsibilities to Indigenous Peoples that Canada has signed, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Our commitment to engagement with Indigenous Peoples ranges from notification of research to the provision of scientific advice, to co-creation of research. We respect Indigenous knowledge systems and include this knowledge in our research and conservation programs where possible. We engage in land use planning and impact assessment processes that affect Indigenous Peoples, seeking ways to advance conservation as well as opportunities to sustain the livelihoods and cultures of Indigenous communities. We seek to motivate positive conservation outcomes by supporting effective governance and decision-making processes by Indigenous communities, particularly by supporting Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas.

WCS Canada is committed to contributing to the field of conservation science and the professional development of its employees. Employees are encouraged to participate in professional societies and present their research at conferences and meetings, as well as participate in relevant workshops and training opportunities. Employees are likewise encouraged to mentor graduate students, participate in relevant graduate student committees, and pursue adjunct status with universities as appropriate.