Available MSc / PhD positions in plant ecology and plant-microbe interactions at the University of Saskatchewan

I am looking for up to two MSc and/or PhD student(s) to join my lab at the University of Saskatchewan to work on the ecology of plant interactions with soil microbes and the consequences of these interactions for plant survival and growth in natural and tame grassland systems.

The specific projects are as follows:

1) Mycorrhizal fungi and plant stress tolerance: This first project will use a series of greenhouse and field experiments to identify plant traits that determine plant responses to mycorrhizal fungi and whether these traits differ among environments and with the composition of mycorrhizal fungi. Further, this project will test whether these traits are heritable, with the goal of using these traits to select for mycorrhiza-responsive plant varieties and improve the productivity and sustainability of forage systems.

2) Temporal development of plant-soil feedbacks: This project will take advantage of a field experiment that manipulates the origin and diversity of plant species to investigate how plant-microbe interactions change over time. Additionally, this project will quantify how these interactions affect the growth of different plant species and multiple related ecosystem functions.

Both projects will require collaboration with a diverse team of academic and government researchers. Although there are set experiments as part of both projects, there is flexibility to develop aspects of these projects in areas where the interests of successful applicants and the lab align, particularly at the PhD level. More information on research in the lab can be found on the lab website (https://research-groups.usask.ca/bennett-lab/).

MSc applicants must have a BSc with a minimum 75% average and should demonstrate a strong interest in plant ecology and/or plant-microbe interactions. PhD applicants must have an MSc in ecology, microbiology, or a related field with a minimum 75% average, with preference given to applicants with experience working on the ecology of plant-microbe interactions and data analysis using R.

Students at both levels will be expected to publish their work in academic journals and present the results at relevant conferences. Both domestic and international applicants will be considered; however, international applicants should note the language proficiency requirements if applicable (https://grad.usask.ca/programs/plant-sciences.php#Admissionrequirements).

Positions are expected to begin in either September 2021 or January 2022; however, a May 2022 start date may be considered. Successful applicants will receive a minimum stipend of $22,000 for MSc students (2 years) or $24,000 for PhD students (4 years).

To apply, please send a letter of motivation (maximum one-page), an up-to-date CV, and unofficial transcripts to jon.bennett@usask.ca by June 7, 2021. The letter of motivation should describe why you are interested in the research conducted in the lab, with particular attention to mycorrhizas and plant-soil feedbacks, and a description of relevant research experiences.

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