MSc or PhD positions – SOCIAL AND SPATIAL BEHAVIOUR AS DRIVERS OF PATHOGEN DYNAMICS

I am establishing a new research lab at the University of Guelph in the Department of Integrative Biology and recruiting multiple new students (MSc or PhD) to be part of a collaborative and inclusive research community. These positions are fully funded, but I will support successful applicants to compete for internal and external funding (NSERC). Preference is for a May or September 2023 start date and the competition will remain open through September 6th, 2022.

Projects: As a new faculty member, I am recruiting students to work in two systems to test hypotheses about the social and spatial drivers of parasite and pathogen dynamics in caribou and bats.

  1. Fogo Island Caribou: We have been studying social, spatial, and movement behaviour of caribou on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, since 2016. Students will focus on testing hypotheses about how social behaviour, movement, and habitat selection affect infection with Elaphostrongylus rangiferi, a parasitic nematode. Students will have access to long-term data and will have the opportunity to spend time in the field in Newfoundland to collect data for their project and contribute to data collection goals of the project.
  2. Ontario Bats: This system will be local to Southern Ontario and focus on measuring parasite and pathogen loads for individual bats and linking these measures to behavioural, social, spatial, and life-history traits for individual bats. We are currently working to establish the system and students will have an exciting opportunity to help shape the future of our work in collaboration with other institutional partners.

Training Opportunity: Both projects will provide excellent opportunities for training and skill development for employment or further graduate studies. For example, (1) Fundamentals: critical thinking, experimental design, practicing and communicating science; (2) Field skills: capturing, tagging, and tracking bats, biotelemetry of caribou, sampling for parasites, and behavioural observation of caribou or bats; (3) Analytical skills such as programming statistical models, geospatial analyses, and social network analyses; (4) Contributing to the lab and departmental culture through inclusive and equitable learning, teaching, and collaboration.

Qualifications:

(1) A passion for, and curiosity about, the natural world and the things that live in it.

(2) An interest and commitment to fieldwork. Given that fieldwork is expensive and can be a barrier to entry for students in ecology and evolution, I will work with students on an individual basis to ensure all needs are met. I will also provide additional “gear stipends” to students to cover costs of specialized fieldwork gear (e.g., hiking boots). While my preference is for field-based projects, if fieldwork isn’t for you, that’s okay! Just let me know and we can discuss lab or computer-based alternatives.

(3) Quantitative experiences, including programing in R, geospatial analyses, and social network analyses are an asset. Given these skills can take years to develop, there will be opportunities to learn.

The University of Guelph and The Department of Integrative Biology are committed to diversity and inclusivity. As a person at the intersection of multiple privileged groups, it is my responsibility to actively leverage this privilege to advocate for my peers and work towards sharing undue burdens placed on members of equity-seeking groups, lifting them when possible, and creating space that does not exist for these groups. Together with students, it is my hope that we will foster equity in the lab and department.

To apply, please email your application as a single pdf document to Dr. Quinn Webber (qwebber@uoguelph.ca), including a cover letter outlining the project you are interested in (bats or caribou), your background, goals, and interests and a current CV with the names of two references.

Thank you for your interest!

Quinn

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