Postdocs, MSc, and PhDs, paleolimnology - Ottawa, Canada

New positions for Postdoctoral, MSc, and PhD candidates are available at the University of Ottawa, Canada, for research in Paleolimnology and Environmental Forensics.


The starting date for these positions is September 2019, with some flexibility, and an earlier start may be negotiated.


Applications are invited for Postdoctoral, MSc, and PhD candidates to work within the dynamic paleolimnology/environmental forensics program. Training in one or more of the following is an asset: quantitative analysis, environmental chemistry, toxicology, and/or geochemistry.

Applicants should be highly motivated and able to work independently. Preference will be given to those who are competitive and have applied for postgraduate scholarships, and applicants with an MSc degree are especially encouraged to apply to do a PhD in environmental toxicology and chemistry.

The university is looking to fill several projects. These projects will provide many opportunities to interact with federal and provincial government agencies.

Program overview

New Forensic Tools Combining Forensic Paleolimnology, Biotransport, and Predictive Modeling to Determine Potential Impacts of Mink Farming in Rural Nova Scotia:

Mink farming has become an important industry in rural Nova Scotia (NS), which now produces about half of Canada's mink. Mink pelts are reported to be NS's greatest agricultural export and are comparable only to dairy products in terms of revenues. However, many residents associate the expansion of mink farming with recurring algal blooms, taste and odour problems, and declining fish habitat within regional freshwaters. Regulators are hampered by the lack of long-term water quality data.

The overall goal is to develop the field of "forensic paleolimnology" and integrate novel, time-focused approaches with predictive lake modelling. Working with stakeholders and regulators, the aim is to determine the relative contributions from mink farms (as opposed to other sources of agricultural runoff and land-use changes) of nutrients, metals, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that may lead to algal blooms and overall deterioration of water quality, including potential loss of fish habitat and alteration of aquatic food webs.

This project will link university researchers and partners with diverse expertise (e.g. modellers, engineers, biologists, chemists, paleolimnologists) and local knowledge to develop distinct, yet complementary, techniques to reconstruct the past, study the present, and model future water quality trajectories in lakes potentially affected by mink farming, historic agriculture/land-use shifts, and climatic change.

The program will provide regulators and stakeholders with the biotic and geochemical data, at the required temporal and spatial scales, needed to help resolve the polarized debate on the environmental impacts of mink farms.

Developing markers in sediments for tracing migratory seabird histories in the Great Lakes and the Arctic:

This program is applying paleolimnological reconstructions in lake sediments with biomarkers from seabird colonies to reconstruct seabird population fluctuations over several centuries in strategic locations. Recently, the lab of Jules Blais has advanced the use of sterols and stanols (including 5β-coprostanol 5β-epicoprostanol, total fecal 5b-stanols, 5 b -stigmastanol, cholesterol, and 5 b-cholestanol) to reconstruct nutrient additions to lake sediments from seabird colonies.

Sediment deposits for C, N, stable isotopes (d13C, d15N), will be analyzed, as well as a series of sterols and bile acids using techniques now established in the laboratory. This research has high potential for new discovery and will improve our understanding of how seabird populations fluctuated in relation to past climatic anomalies, allowing better predictions of how stable these populations are, and how they may respond to future climate change.


The closing date for applications is 30 April 2019. A resumé, a recent academic transcript, and the names and email addresses of two references will be an asset to your application.

Applications must consist of the following: (1) a letter expressing your interest; (2) an unofficial transcript; (3) names of at least two references; and (4) an example of your scientific writing.

Email Prof. Jules M. Blais, 30 Marie Curie, Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.