Research & Job Openings

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Nutrient Management & Greenhouse Gases
Soil Ecology & Nematology
Undergraduate Summer / Co-Op Research

DEPARTMENTAL POSITIONS

Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Water Resource Management for Sustainable Agriculture

The Department of Soil Science is looking for a full-time, tenure-track position in Water Resource Management for Sustainable Agriculture at the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor.

The succesful candidate will join the Department of Soil Science of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS), which promotes a collaborative and supportive workplace and is committed to advancing the University of Manitoba as a leader in the use and management of land and water resources. The Chair will address many of the most critical issues limiting our understanding of how precipitation is partitioned and impacts agricultural lands across the Earth’s Critical Zone (the near-surface environment where rock, soil, water, air, and life interact). The Chair’s research program is expected to focus on the long-term impacts that agricultural water use has on the hydrological processes. Specific areas may include but are not limited to examining how land use affects soil water storage spatially and temporally, and what the implications are for runoff and erosion risk, snowmelt, water redistribution and infiltration, flood and drought hazards, and wetland services.

The successful candidate will be expected to develop an innovative and well-respected research program related to Water Resource Management. The potential areas of focus may include but are not limited to: (1) water flow mechanisms during snowmelt infiltration; 2) water management in marginal and degraded lands; 3) best management practices in arable lands; and/or 4) digital technologies to assess hydrological processes in soils. The Chair will maintain a primary focus on improving the sustainable management of water in agroecosystems to enhance adaptation to climate change and resulting extreme moisture conditions. The Chair will be expected to contribute to provincial and national strategies aimed at improving climate resilience in western Canadian agriculture. In addition to CRC funding, the Chair will be expected to secure funding from provincial and national sources. Although the Chair will have a reduced teaching load, they will contribute to both undergraduate and graduate teaching in their area of expertise. The Chair will also be expected to contribute to service activities within the department, the faculty and beyond.

READ MORE & APPLY
(Requisition No 25281)

GRADUATE STUDIES

The Applied Soil Ecology Lab at the University of Manitoba is seeking highly motivated and talented candidates for training leading to M.Sc. or Ph.D. degrees in nutrient management, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil ecology and nematology.

For more information on a specific project, e-mail Mario directly, using the subject indicated in the research project’s description. Include a detailed CV, statement of relevant experience, your availability, and contact information for three referees.

For more information on the application process, see the Department of Soil Science or Faculty of Graduate Studies Graduate Programs webpages.

Nutrient Management & Greenhouse Gases

Beyond Direct N2O Emissions: Reducing NH3 Emissions to Achieve Greenhouse Gas Reductions from Agricultural Soils

We are currently seeking several candidates for training leading to M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Indirect N2O Emissions, specifically ammonia (NH3) loss from agricultural soil. A major gap in Canada’s ability to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 is reducing emissions of ammonia losses from fertilizers. Hydrolysis of urea fertilizers at the soil surface results in NH3 emissions, a fraction of which is converted to N2O upon deposition to soil and is thus a major indirect N2O source. Subsurface placement of urea fertilizers can reduce NH3 emissions, but this application method may be prevented by soil conditions, high moisture, and established roots. Alternatively, urease inhibitors can reduce NH3 losses from surface-applied urea, but their effectiveness and the effect of soil type is unknown. There is also concern that urease inhibitors may cause “pollution swapping”, where reducing indirect N2O emissions by preventing hydrolysis of urea fertilizers keeps NH3 in the ground leading to increased nitrification and ultimately an increase in direct N2O emissions.

Successful applicants will undertake graduate research to address one or more of the following objectives: (1) develop an accurate and feasible micrometeorological method of estimating NH3 emissions, (2) develop and verify the suitability of a new quantitative dosimeter method for estimating NH3 emissions, (3) determine the benefit of urease inhibitors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (NH3, N2O, CO2), (4) establish the most effective urease inhibitors and concentrations and soils to use them in, and (5) investigate if pollution swapping is a real concern for the Prairies and if eligibility of single inhibitor products in cost-share programs can be removed and thus encourage adoption of the inhibitors and realize reduction in N2O emissions.

Read more about the Indirect N2O Emissions graduate studies opportunities here.

Micrometeorology and Net Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Two Long-Term Agricultural Study Sites

We are currently seeking a candidate for training leading to an M.Sc. or Ph.D. degree in Micrometeorology and Net Greenhouse Gas Emissions of long-term agricultural study sites. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural fields is an important step towards achieving 30% reductions below the 2005 level in Canada by the year 2030. Past research in Canada and globally have shown practices from the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework can reduce emissions. One of these practices is applying fertilizer amended with a nitrification inhibitor.

The successful applicant will undertake graduate research to determine the extent to which whole-year N2O and CO2 net emissions reductions from long-term field study sites can be achieved through applying nitrogen fertilizer with a nitrification inhibitor. N2O fluxes are determined using the flux-gradient method. The two study sites are located on heavy clay soil and lighter sandy soil; the project will focus on comparing emissions from two contrasting soil types of the Canadian Prairies.

Read more about the Micrometeorology and Net Greenhouse Gas Emissions graduate studies opportunity here.

Precision 4R Management: Improving Nitrogen Use Efficiency, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Prouduction Economics of Canola

We are currently seeking a candidate for training leading to an M.Sc. or Ph.D. degree in Precision 4R Management. Commercial fields are heterogeneous for soil properties in space and time. Consequently yield and N2O emissions from nitrogen (N) fertilizer additions are also variable in fields. To address this spatial and temporal variability, Precision Agriculture was developed to improve nutrient use efficiency by matching N addition-induced yield response to landscape position and soil properties within a field.

The successful applicant will undertake graduate research to determine the extent to which N2O emissions reductions and improved profitability of canola can be achieved by combining the Precision Agriculture practice of tailoring N rates with the 4R Management practice of using a nitrification inhibitor, which we call Precision 4R.

Read more about the Precision 4R Management graduate studies opportunity here.

Positioning Canada’s Potato Industry for Improved Sustainable Production

We are currently seeking a candidate for training leading to an M.Sc. or Ph.D. degree in Sustainable 4R Potato Production. The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture is great, but potato producers are rightly concerned that reducing N2O emissions may negatively impact yield, supply, quality, and profitability.

The successful applicant will undertake graduate research to quantify greenhouse gas emissions reductions achievable using 4R nitrogen (N) management practices and improved N use efficient potato varieties in Canada, without sacrificing the yield and quality of fresh and processing potatoes.

Read more about the Sustainable 4R Potato Production graduate studies opportunity here.

A Prairie Assessment of Nitrogen Stabilizers and Split Fertilizer Application in Sustaining Spring Wheat Yield, Protein, and Production Economics While Reducing N2O Emissions

We are currently seeking a candidate for training leading to an M.Sc. or Ph.D. degree in Sustainable 4R Wheat Production. Spring wheat is Canada’s second most valued export grain commodity and restrictions in nitrogen (N) fertilizer use to significantly reduce nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions would severely impact sustainability of farms across the Prairies. Past research in Canada and globally have shown practices from the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework can reduce emissions.

The successful applicant will undertake graduate research to determine the benefit of combinations of 4R practices including split application, inhibitor-treated urea, and reduced rate urea addition to agronomic performance of and reduced N2O emissions from Canadian Western Red Spring Wheat.

Read more about the Sustainable 4R Wheat Production graduate studies opporunity here.


UNDERGRAD SUMMER & CO-OP

The 2024 undergraduate summer research technician competition is now closed. Please check back in January 2025.

See below to learn more about the Plant Disease Lab Technician and Agronomy Field Technician positions and how to apply.

Plant Disease Lab Technician
The Soil Ecology & Plant Disease Research Program includes projects that examine yield loses from Potato Early Die Complex, a disease complex caused by the fungus Verticillium and root-lesion nematode Pratylenchus, identify host and environmental preferences, yield damage, and control strategies of plant-parasitic nematodes, including Pratylenchus and Ditylenchus, and surveys of the Canadian Prairie Provinces for the presence of the parasitic soybean cyst nematode. The program includes major field, pulse, and horticultural crops grown on the Canadian Prairies, and involves microscopic and molecular identification of pathogens and nematodes.

Duties and Responsibilities: Indoor: assist graduate students and senior technicians in laboratory studies; count and identify soil organisms using compound / dissecting microscopes; make culture media and reagent solutions; extract pathogens and nematodes from soils; potentially basic molecular biology analyses such as PCR, qPCR, and gel electrophoresis. Outdoor: soil and plant sampling, visual plant disease ratings. Other duties as required. Successful applicant reports daily to the Soil Ecology & Plant Disease Lab Director.

Skills and benefits you may gain from this position: Microscopic and molecular pathogen and pest evaluation, extraction and isolation methods, conventional and real-time PCR, culturing, disease rating, field sampling

Qualifications: Enrolled in an undergraduate Agroecology, Agronomy, Biology, Microbiology, Environment, or Soil Science program, or a related field (preference given to those in senior years with excellent academic achievement); highly motivated; organized; able to follow complex instructions and pay attention to detail; good critical thinking skills; can work independently and in a group; excellent verbal and written communication skills; good manual dexterity; able to sit or stand for long periods; prepared for occasional manual labour and strenuous outdoor activity over rough terrain; able to lift and carry 20kg. A valid Manitoba Driver’s licenseand previous lab experience are assets.

Number of Jobs: TBD
Job dates: May through August
Hours per week: 35
Salary: Faculty pay scale dependent on program year
Location: Ellis Bldg, UM and occasional day trips to rural field sites
Other info: Transportation vehicle provided

How to Apply: Please send the following application materials to Soil.Ecology@umanitoba.ca using the subject line “summer lab tech”: (1) Cover letter including a statement indicating the school, program, and year you are currently enrolled in, (2) resume, (3) academic transcript, and (4) the names and contact info of three references whom have agreed to be contacted.

Click here to see the Undergraduate Plant Disease Lab Technician advertisement for job terms and how to apply.

Agronomy Field Technician
The Greenhouse Gas Research Program studies the relationship between nutrient management and greenhouse gas emissions, with the goal of improving fertilizer use best management practices to reduce emissions from soil and animal manures. Projects include studying the effect of cover crops on emissions, cattle diet on manure properties and emissions, and fertilizer placement, timing of application, and/or fertilizer type on emissions.

Duties and responsibilities: Outdoor duties: assist graduate students and Senior Technicians in small scale research field plot maintenance; collect soil, manure, plant and greenhouse gas samples; measure spectral reflectance from crops; adhere to biosecurity protocols. Indoor duties: preparation of gas storage vials; soil grinding and extraction; plant threshing and grinding; proper documentation of soil, plant, and greenhouse gas samples; maintaining field equipment. Other duties as required. Successful applicant reports daily to the Gas or General Lab Director.

Skills and benefits you may gain from this position: Methods for analysis of various greenhouse gases; determination of greenhouse gas fluxes using chambers; soil sampling, plant sampling / preparation for analysis; trouble shooting techniques and working in teams; introduction to the set up and maintenance of small-scale agricultural research plots.

Qualifications: Enrolled in an undergraduate Agroecology, Agronomy, Biology, Engineering, Environment, Physical Geography, or Soil Science program, or a related field (preference given to those in senior years with excellent academic achievement); highly motivated; organized; able to follow complex instructions and pay attention to detail; good critical thinking skills; can work independently and in a group; excellent verbal and written communication skills; prepared for manual labour and strenuous outdoor activity over rough terrain; able to lift and carry 20kg; able to sit or stand for long periods; good manual dexterity; valid Manitoba Driver’s license. Enjoys working outdoors and previous farm/field experience is an asset.

Number of Jobs: TBD
Job dates: May through August
Hours per week: 35
Salary: Faculty pay scale dependent on program year
Location: Ellis Bldg, UM and frequent day trips to rural field sites
Other info: Transportation vehicle provided

How to Apply: Please send the following application materials to Soil.Ecology@umanitoba.ca using the subject line “field lab tech”: (1) Cover letter including a statement indicating the school, program, and year you are currently enrolled in, (2) resume, (3) academic transcript, and (4) the names and contact info of three references whom have agreed to be contacted.

Click here to see the Undergraduate Agronomy Field Technician advertisement for job terms and how to apply.


Last Updated: December 14, 2022

Welcome to the Applied Soil Ecology Lab at the University of Manitoba