PhD opportunity: Multiple benefits of urban greening across socio-economically and ecologically diverse urban areas: integrating effective guidance to municipalities on Nature-Based Solutions

Dr. Lorien Nesbitt and Dr. Elizabeth Gow are seeking a PhD student to join their research teams at the University of British Columbia.

The Urban Natures Lab aims to understand and support people and nature, living together in cities. We are a collaborative research group led by Dr. Nesbitt at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Forestry. Our work is guided by a focus supporting equity and justice through urban greening, and a desire to integrate urban nature into our everyday lives. We conduct community- and practice-engaged research on urban systems using a social-ecological lens. Our approach to research is explicitly collaborative and inter-/trans-disciplinary. We are on the lookout for new and inclusive approaches to doing research and creating liveable cities. Along the way, we’re actively creating a fresh academic culture: one that is non-hierarchical, inclusive, collaborative and welcoming of diverse worldviews. We strongly encourage applications from members of traditionally under-represented groups. For more information, see:

Project description:

Metro Vancouver is undergoing considerable development to meet housing targets, while striving to meet increased tree canopy, green space connectivity and green equity targets. Working closely with Environment and Climate Change Canada, and NGOs, the student will conduct collaborative transdisciplinary research to (1) quantify the effects of urban greening onbirds, (2) quantify the effects of urban greening and potential independent effects of bird community composition on human well-being, (3) assess the distributional equity of urban greening and bird community richness in Metro Vancouver. Key outcomes include development of integrated science-based advice to municipalities to support biodiversity, human well-being and equitable implementation of Nature-Based Climate Solutions.

Necessary qualifications:

  • Completion of a BSc and MSc in Biology, Ecology, Environmental Science, Wildlife Management, or other relevant field or equivalent degree;
  • Valid Driver’s Licence;
  • Must meet the criteria for admission to graduate studies in the UBC Faculty of Forestry (;
  • Proficient at identifying Western North American terrestrial birds by sight and sound (including songs and calls);
  • Willingness to work and live Metro Vancouver and conduct fieldwork across all seasons.
  • Eagerness to engage and work alongside members of the public.

Beneficial qualifications:

  • Experience using GIS and R;
  • Experience conducting avian point count or transect surveys;
  • Experience working with teams and with people from diverse backgrounds.

Location: The student will be based at the University of British Columbia and live in the Metro Vancouver area. Fieldwork will be conducted across all seasons. Accommodations are not provided. The student will be co-supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Gow ( and Dr. Lorien Nesbitt (Nesbitt, Lorien | Faculty Profile | UBC Forestry), and will be a part of the Urban Natures Lab (Urban Natures Lab).

Timeline: Ideally, the candidate would start by Jan 1, 2025, or sooner, but the start date is flexible. Please submit your unofficial transcript, CV, cover letter, a 1-page personal statement describing your accomplishments, challenges, and background, and contact information for three references to, and by 18 July 2024. Preference will be given to Canadian citizens or permanent residents, but all applicants that meet the necessary qualifications are encouraged to apply.