Research Scholarships at The University of Saskatchewan, Canada -2023

Opportunities

We are looking for one PhD student, two postdoctoral fellows, and one technician to join our diverse group (https://research-groups.usask.ca/bennett-lab/ ). Successful individuals will join a set of new, highly collaborative, and well-funded projects exploring multi-trophic interactions in grassland ecosystems and identifying management interventions that can enhance the associated ecosystem services. Our group’s focus in these projects will be on understanding how the species and genetic composition of plant assemblages influence soil microbial communities and the consequences of those relationships for multiple ecosystem services. We will explore these questions using observational studies, and field and greenhouse experiments. There will be considerable opportunity to collaborate with researchers across an array of fields (ecology, plant breeding, soil science, entomology, and artificial intelligence), and to integrate data generated by other groups into wholistic analyses. While there are defined deliverables for these projects, student and PDF positions can be shaped by the interests of the successful applicant. We are looking for individuals who work well in a team environment that can also function independently. Strong oral and written communication skills are essential.

Graduate students

This position will use existing and new field experiments manipulating the composition and diversity of plant species and genotypes to determine plant compositions that can optimize productivity, carbon sequestration, pollination services, and natural pest control in seeded grassland systems. The student will also have flexibility to develop their own ideas and many opportunities to collaborate with other people in the Bennett lab and across the larger projects.

Minimum qualifications: Must have received an MSc in a relevant discipline, or anticipated defense prior to November 2023. Must be willing to relocate to Saskatoon, SK as there will be significant field work.

Desired Experience: Experience publishing papers, ideally in ISI indexed journals. Experience generating and analyzing soil microbiome data.

A start date of September 2023 or January 2024 is requested, although May 2024 may be possible for exceptional candidates. Successful applicants will receive a minimum stipend of $25,000 for 4 years, although there are many available scholarships to which students can apply to top up that amount. The University of Saskatchewan Graduate Students Association offers an extended health and dental plan (https://gsa.usask.ca/services/health-and-dental-plan.php) that is covered through student fees.

To apply, send a cover letter including which position you are applying to as well as a description of how your interests and experience fit that position, and a CV to Jon Bennett ([email protected]). For PhD students, please also include a copy of your transcripts. Positions will remain open until suitable candidates are found.

 

Undergraduate students

Getting students involved in research early is important, and there are many opportunities for undergraduate students to join the lab. I am currently looking for 1-2 additional students to work in the lab this summer. Students will have to reside in or near Saskatoon to fill these positions. Interested students are encouraged to contact me with a CV and unofficial transcripts as soon as possible to discuss potential fits.

I take a number of thesis students each year. Students looking to do their thesis work within the lab are encouraged to contact me well in advance (Winter term the year before).

Postdoctoral fellows

We are looking for two postdocs. The successful candidates will primarily work on integrating existing and incoming data linking plant and soil microbial communities to plant productivity, soil carbon, and plant-insect interactions. We have multiple existing data sets including plant and soil data collected from natural and seeded grasslands across the Canadian prairies and will be collecting large volumes of similar data as part of our newly funded projects. The successful candidates will be expected to 1) help coordinate data collection and data management across all studies, 2) lead greenhouse experiments designed to test how natural variation in soil microbiomes affect plant growth, and 3) lead integrative data analysis in collaboration with more senior researchers. Planned research will be divided between the two positions based on the successful candidates’ interests; however, there will also be significant opportunity for independent research in both positions.

Minimum qualifications: Must have received a PhD in a relevant discipline within the last 5 years, or anticipated defense prior to November 2023. Must be the lead author on at least one paper published or in review at a peer reviewed venue, preferably an ISI indexed journal. Must be willing to relocate to Saskatoon, SK, as both positions involve significant on-site work.

Desired experience: Experience generating and analyzing soil microbiome data. Experience working with large datasets and complex analytical methods (e.g., random forests, structural equation models, etc.).

These positions can begin immediately but must start no later than January 2024. Initial appointment will be for one year with possibility for renewal for up to four years with acceptable performance. Salary for both positions start at $55,000 per year plus benefits.

To apply, send a cover letter including which position you are applying to as well as a description of how your interests and experience fit that position, and a CV to Jon Bennett ([email protected]).
 

Technical staff

We are looking for a technician with at least basic skills in molecular biology. The technician will be responsible for conducting sample processing, primarily for DNA extraction and sequencing library preparation of soil and insect samples, but also for other measurements on plant and soil samples (e.g., NIR spectroscopy, elemental analysis). The successful applicant will be expected to coordinate sample collection and pre-processing among multiple research groups. As such, strong interpersonal and organizational skills will be needed.

Minimum qualifications: An MSc in ecology, agriculture, microbiology, soil science, entomology, or another relevant field, OR an equivalent combination of education and experience. This experience must exclude DNA extraction, purification, and PCR.

Desired Experience: Experience with high throughput extraction protocols, sequencing library preparation, long-read sequencing, and bioinformatics. Experience with NIR spectroscopy. Experience with elemental analysis.

This position can begin as early as July 2023 or as late as January 2024, although a September start would be considered ideal. It is a term position with an initial appointment of one year, renewable for four years with good performance. The salary ranges from $53,000 to $71,700 (USask non-union band 6) plus health, dental, life, and disability benefits (https://wellness.usask.ca/benefits/plans.php). Starting salary will depend on education and experience.

To apply, send a cover letter including which position you are applying to as well as a description of how your interests and experience fit that position, and a CV to Jon Bennett ([email protected]).

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