The Friesen Lab Queens The Friesen Lab
Oceanodroma castro

Prospective Students

I am looking for a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant to fill PhD position to study population genomics of arctic seabirds (abstract below). The student will be part of an NSERC Strategic project to aid conservation and management of several species. Applicants must have a background in evolutionary genetics. Practical experience with genomics and bioinformatics is an asset. Field work in remote arctic camps will be required. The successful applicant will join a dynamic group of faculty and students studying ecology and evolution at Queen’s University. Please send a resume or curriculum vitae, informal transcript, and contact information for two academic references to Dr. Vicki Friesen (vlf at queensu.ca). Applications will be reviewed until the position is filled.


As numerically dominant apex predators, seabirds are key components of Canada's arctic marine ecosystem. Seabirds and their eggs also are important to the culture and diet of indigenous Arctic peoples. However, Arctic seabird populations are facing multiple simultaneous direct and indirect threats from climate change, shipping and industrial development. Unsurprisingly, many populations are showing signs of stress such as reduced reproductive success or declining numbers. To avoid extinction, wildlife populations must adapt through (1) changes in behaviour or physiology, (2) dispersal, or (3) genetic changes. The capacity for seabirds to adapt through these three avenues is virtually unknown, but it is critical to maintenance of healthy populations. New genomic methods, especially when combined with on-going studies of behaviour and physiology, provide powerful opportunities to determine the long-term sensitivities of Arctic seabirds to climate change and industrial development. We will use genomic, behavioural and ecological data in a landscape context to estimate levels of phenotypic plasticity, dispersal, and genomic variation for seven seabird species that Canada has a global responsibility to protect. Results will help  Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) develop science-based policies for Arctic stewardship. The students will be responsible for analysis of one species, and will gain training in population and landscape genomics, bioinformatics, population modeling and arctic ecology.