Graduate opportunity in Freshwater Science at the University of Ottawa

We are currently seeking two motivated graduate students (MSc or PhD candidates) for a project at the University of Ottawa that is fully funded by NSERC Strategic Partnerships to study the impact of mink farms on downstream water quality in Nova Scotia. The ideal candidates will have experience or demonstrated strengths in environmental chemical analysis, statistical modeling, and/or scientific writing.

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. Our overall goal is to develop the field of “forensic paleolimnology” and integrate our novel, time-focused approaches with predictive lake modelling. Working with stakeholders and regulators, we aim 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. We 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.

If you are interested, please contact Prof. Jules Blais, University of Ottawa at

A resumé, a recent academic transcript, and the names and email addresses of two references will be an asset to your application.

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