PEARL  Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory

  Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston ON, Canada, K7L 3N6

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Graduate Opportunities at PEARL

When positions are available, John Smol and Brian Cumming both accept graduate students into their respective programs in the Department of Biology at Queen's University at the Paleoecological Environmental Research and Assessment Laboratory (PEARL, Financial support is guaranteed for a period of 2 years for a M.Sc. and 4 years for a Ph.D. All applicants require a 4-year B.Sc. degree with a minimum of an upper 'B' average. Applicant should have: i) a minimum of an upper 'B' average in an Honours (i.e., 4-year) undergraduate B.Sc. program; ii) an intense interest in aquatic ecology, water resources and environmental change; iii) the ability to work both independently and as part of a team; and iv) good interpersonal and writing skills. Skills related to outdoor activities and water safety would also be considered favourably.If you are interested, please contact John Smol or Brian Cumming and visit for the application procedure.

For the upcoming year (2014), Professor Cumming has two graduate opportunities, which are highlighted below. If you have any questions considering these projects, me at

Ideally, start dates for both projects can be as early as May 2014, as this will allow the students to be involved in fieldwork.  Successful applicants will be guaranteed a minimum stipend of $22,650/year over the two years of their M.Sc. program.  

The goal of one project is to assess if boreal lakes in Saskatchewan that are within and outside the emissions plume from the Oil Sands region can be used to distinguish point-source effects of oil sands emissions from effects of recent climate warming on lake production in northern Saskatchewan.   This study is also designed to detect if lakes with different concentrations of nitrogen to phosphorus exhibit differences in recent lake production.  Partners in this study include the: the Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment, the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency, and Environment Canada.  This study will contribute to the importance of recent climate change on boreal lakes as well as determining the need to develop base-loading limits from industrial emissions on northern boreal lakes. 

The other project for which we are seeking a motivated student is an investigation of the long-term influence of the Bridge-River Diversion on ecosystem productivity in Seton Lake. The Bridge River Power Project (B.C., Canada) resulted in the diversion of the Bridge River (a tributary of the Fraser) through a mountainside and into Seton Lake.    This project will be based at Queen’s, but will be co-supervised by Dr. Dan Selbie (Head, Lakes Research Program Science Branch, Salmon and Freshwater Ecosystems Division, Department of Fisheries and Oceans).  Sediment cores from Seton Lake, and nearby Anderson Lake will be used to reconstruct the ecological context for both lake ecosystems, thereby establishing a continuous time series of physical, chemical and biological lake changes associated with Bridge River diversion, in comparison to the nearby Anderson Lake, which will serve as a reference site. Information from this project will increase our understanding of the impacts of large-scale hydroelectric diversion on productivity, food webs and ecosystem structure, but will also yield information on the importance of recent climate change in this region.