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Research opportunities for students

Projects and chairs funded by Sentinel North can provide opportunities for master's, doctoral and post-doctoral students to pursue their research projects in a dynamic and innovative transdisciplinary setting.

The list below is updated each new session based on the Sentinel North projects posted on Université Laval's Placement Site (SPLA). We also invite you to consult the Research Projects to identify which project(s) that interest you, and to contact the principal investigators for any information request.

 

Ph.D.

 

Terrestrial ecology, forestry
Impact of spruce budworm outbreaks on woodland caribou populations

Director : Daniel Fortin

The boreal populations of woodland caribou are threatened in Canada. Populations are particularly sensitive to habitat disturbances, such as by logging, fire and pest insects. Although insect outbreaks affect areas larger than those affected by fire and logging combined, their impact on the food web of boreal caribou remains poorly understood. Since 2006, an infestation of spruce budworms (Choristoneura fumiferana) is taking place in the Côte-Nord region of Québec, Canada. The PhD project will clarify how the outbreak influences caribou's food web, particularly how the insect can indirectly influence the distribution and demography of boreal caribou. The successful candidate will likely conduct a field season, in remote parts of the Côte-Nord region, to characterize caribou habitat. However, most of the data has already been acquired, and the student will have access to a database comprised of GPS locations from more than 100 caribou.

Poste offert dans le cadre du projet Interdisciplinary research to understand changing food-web dynamics and threats to food security in the northern boreal forest

Pour plus d'information

Machine learning, AI, climatology
QAUJIKKAUT: an on-line advanced foresight tool of extreme meteorological events and natural hazards in Nunavik

Director: Thierry Badard

Climate change can have serious consequences for the sustainable development of northern communities and for tourism, industrial and governmental activities in the North. Appropriate decision-making for mitigating and adapting to these impacts can be achieved by the collection and analysis of data related to these impacts and also by the study of the factors driving them.

The objective of the Qaujikkaut ("warning" in Inuktitut) project is to develop an online tool for early warning of extreme weather events and natural hazards in Nunavik. This tool will be based on real-time data from the SILA network of environmental monitoring stations operated by the Centre for Northern Studies (CEN) and the Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC – Department of Environment) in Nunavik.

The main objective of the successful candidate will be to perform predictive modelling and achieve advanced foresight of problematic environmental conditions in Nunavik. Using the Qaujikkaut database set up y other students, and machine learning and artificial intelligence approaches such as Decision Tree Learning (Rokach and Maimon, 2008), the Ph.D. student will develop algorithms for detecting beforehand extreme meteorological events and related natural hazards based on climate indicators and their thresholds. He/She will be supervised by Thierry Badard and co-supervised by François Laviolette and Richard Fortier.

Position offered as part of QAUJIKKAUT : outil en ligne d’anticipation hâtive des événements météorologiques extrêmes au Nunavik basé sur le réseau SILA de stations de suivi environnemental

For more information

Geology, civil engineering, climatology
QAUJIKKAUT: an on-line advanced foresight tool of extreme meteorological events and natural hazards in Nunavik

Director : Richard Fortier

Climate change can have serious consequences for the sustainable development of northern communities and for tourism, industrial and governmental activities in the North. Appropriate decision-making for mitigating and adapting to these impacts can be achieved by the collection and analysis of data related to these impacts and also by the study of the factors driving them.

The objective of the Qaujikkaut ("warning" in Inuktitut) project is to develop an online tool for early warning of extreme weather events and natural hazards in Nunavik. This tool will be based on real-time data from the SILA network of environmental monitoring stations operated by the Centre for Northern Studies (CEN) and the Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC – Department of Environment) in Nunavik.

The selected candidate will have as objective to evaluate the occurrence, trigger mechanisms and impacts of natural hazards related to extreme environmental conditions in Nunavik by conducting and analysing an inventory of historical data (PhD in cold regions engineering or climatology under the supervision of Richard Fortier, Jean-Michel Lemieux, and Daniel Nadeau).

Position offered as part of QAUJIKKAUT : outil en ligne d’anticipation hâtive des événements météorologiques extrêmes au Nunavik basé sur le réseau SILA de stations de suivi environnemental

For more information

Physics, chemistry, materials science
Développement et production de biomembranes fonctionnalisées pour la filtration de l'eau

Director : Younès Messaddeq

This project, funded by Sentinel North , focuses on the development of filtration biomembranes for integration into a membrane bioreactor module for wastewater treatment.

The biomembranes, developed from nanocellulosic fibers, will be functionalized and characterized to meet performance targets in terms of filtration capacity, permeability, mechanical strength and pore clogging tendency. After that, they will be integrated into the laboratory-scale membrane bioreactor module that will be validated using synthetic water. Finally, the biomembranes will be mass-produced in an optimal design for assembly into the pilot-scale module that will be evaluated in real time in a northern village.

Position offered as part of Développement d’une infrastructure municipale résiliente de traitement des eaux usées visant la réutilisation de l’eau au Nunavik

For more information

Population health, medical science
Mobilizing and transferring knowledge between northern communities and Sentinel North

Director : Holly Witteman

For knowledge transfer and mobilization to be effective between research teams and the community, community knowledge must be integrated into research projects and the knowledge generated from the research must be returned to the community in an understandable and useful way. To achieve this, in addition to having commitment from the research team and granting agencies, it is also important to have expertise in community engagement and knowledge transfer and mobilization. In this project, researchers, designers, and students from Université Laval will work with northern communities to optimize the transfer and mobilization of research knowledge in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.

First, we will identify representative ongoing and recent research projects as case studies. We will then conduct interviews with community members and researchers to identify which approaches contribute to the success or failure of research knowledge transfer and mobilization. Based on what we have learned, we will then conduct co-design workshops that will allow community members and researchers to collaborate to create useful and usable knowledge transfer tools and strategies for all involved.

Finally, with the help of North Sentinel project leaders and community partners, we will optimize the tools and strategies developed. Our project will provide a clear direction on how to ensure knowledge transfer and mobilization in northern regions and will also build a solid foundation for communication and community-based research.

Position offered as part of Mobilisation et transfert de connaissances entre les communautés nordiques et Sentinelle Nord

For more information

Geomatics, computer science, AI
New Data Mining Methods for Geospatial Big Data

Director : Thierry Badard

A PhD position is available at the Department of Geomatics Sciences of Laval University. During his project, the student will design and develop new software solutions to process and analyse big geospatial data. These solutions will be based on the most recent innovations in big data, artificial intelligence (i.e. machine learning) and data mining techniques.

This PhD project is part of a larger research project funded by the Sentinel North Strategy, itself supported by the federal government's Canada First Research Excellence Fund. The main objective of this research project is to understand how the disruption of ecosystems affects microorganisms in Arctic soils. The project will use a microbial in situ culture system, called Ecochip, for measuring the growth of microorganisms in their natural environment that also enables acquiring and transmitting real-time environmental metadata. The PhD candidate will join the research team responsible for the development of innovative approaches to analyse the huge amount of data stemming from EcoChips, but also from other data sources (winds, temperatures, pollutions, humidity, imagery, etc.). These tools will enable the research team to evaluate the impact of environmental changes in the North and effectively add value to the microorganisms found in these environments, which will greatly improve our understanding of the changes occurring in the Northern environments and their impact on human health.

Position offered as part of QAUJIKKAUT : outil en ligne d’anticipation hâtive des événements météorologiques extrêmes au Nunavik basé sur le réseau SILA de stations de suivi environnemental

For more information

Anthropology
Saimastianiq : Documenter, mobiliser et valoriser les pratiques juridiques inuit pour préserver l’harmonie sociale au Nunavik

Director : Caroline Hervé

The student will have to develop a research project that will serve to document Inuit legal practices and knowledge through an ethnographic approach, and may also participate in the mobilization and dissemination of the knowledge acquired, among other things, through colloquia and the writing of a book on Nunavimmiut legal practices.

Position offered as part of Chaire de recherche sur les relations avec le sociétés inuit

For more information

Oceanography, ecology, modelization
Modelling the ecology of Arctic char populations from Nunavik

Director : Frédéric Maps

The impacts of climate change are the fastest and strongest on Earth in the Arctic regions. They create in their wake major, yet poorly understood changes in the marine ecosystems sustaining in large parts the food security of Inuit communities around Nunavik. Added to ongoing socio-economic changes, this challenging situation led Inuit to ask: "In Nunavik, will the quantity and nutritious quality of country food remain sufficient to support our food security and health?” In collaboration with our Inuit partners in Nunavik, we are starting an ambitious project weaving together ecological and public health approaches to address the complex issue of food security.

The specific objective of this Ph.D. project is to develop a model of Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) population dynamics including both phases of its life-cycle, i.e. in the ocean and in the waterways of Nunavik where they reproduce.

Position offered as part of Des systèmes alimentaires ruraux durables et résistants pour les générations futures de Nunavimmiut : promouvoir la sécurité alimentaire tout en s’adaptant aux environnements nordiques en changement

For more information

Oceanography, ecology, modelization
Modeling trophic transfer of essential fatty acids in Nunavik marine ecosystems

Director : Frédéric Maps

The impacts of climate change are the fastest and strongest on Earth in the Arctic regions. They create in their wake major, yet poorly understood changes in the marine ecosystems sustaining in large parts the food security of Inuit communities around Nunavik. Added to ongoing socio-economic changes, this challenging situation led Inuit to ask: "In Nunavik, will the quantity and nutritious quality of country food remain sufficient to support our food security and health?” In collaboration with our Inuit partners in Nunavik, we are starting an ambitious project weaving together ecological and public health approaches to address the complex issue of food security.

The specific objective of this Masters project is to model the trophic transfer of essential fatty acids (omega-3) within marine food webs, with special emphasis on species harvested by Nunavimmiut.

Position offered as part of Des systèmes alimentaires ruraux durables et résistants pour les générations futures de Nunavimmiut : promouvoir la sécurité alimentaire tout en s’adaptant aux environnements nordiques en changement

For more information

Oceanography, ecology, modelization
Species Distribution Modelling for understanding North Atlantic right whales' habitat dynamics

Director : Frédéric Maps

Climate change's impacts on the hydrological and temperature regimes over the Northwest Atlantic shelf have been faster and much larger than almost anywhere else on the world's Ocean. These changes led to a shift towards a new oceanographic state with important impacts on the marine ecosystem, and in particular the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis). In the 2010s, right whales have shifted their historical summer foraging habitat from the New England and Canadian Atlantic waters to explore new habitats further north, in particular within the Gulf of St. Lawrence, leading to a significant increase in mortality events.

The specific objective of this Ph.D. project is to develop and validate a species distribution modelling (SDM) ensemble framework that makes use of cutting-edge satellite remote sensing data and Calanus preyscape models' output.

Position offered as part of Des systèmes alimentaires ruraux durables et résistants pour les générations futures de Nunavimmiut : promouvoir la sécurité alimentaire tout en s’adaptant aux environnements nordiques en changement

For more information

Oceanography, ecology, modelization
Modelling of Nunavik marine trophic networks

Director : Frédéric Maps

The impacts of climate change are the fastest and strongest on Earth in the Arctic regions. They create in their wake major, yet poorly understood changes in the marine ecosystems sustaining in large parts the food security of Inuit communities around Nunavik. Added to ongoing socio-economic changes, this challenging situation led Inuit to ask: "In Nunavik, will the quantity and nutritious quality of country food remain sufficient to support our food security and health?” In collaboration with our Inuit partners in Nunavik, we are starting an ambitious project weaving together ecological and public health approaches to address the complex issue of food security.

The specific objective of this Ph.D. project is to improve an existing Arctic marine ecosystem model with updated and extended dataset using the Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) modelling framework. The candidate will be involved in developing strategies for participatory research with Nunavik community members to co-create possible future ecosystem scenarios with community members, taking into account their concerns regarding their food security.

Position offered as part of Des systèmes alimentaires ruraux durables et résistants pour les générations futures de Nunavimmiut : promouvoir la sécurité alimentaire tout en s’adaptant aux environnements nordiques en changement

For more information

 

Master's

 

Wood engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry
Development of a bioproduct for the recovery of mining sites

Director : Véronic Landry

This project, funded by Sentinel North, involves the development of a bioproduct that will be used for the restoration of mining soils.

The technology that will be developed aims to trap seeds and micro-cuttings at the heart of a biocompatible and biodegradable polymer matrix (eg: film composed of polysaccharides, alginate, chitosan, etc.). This matrix should contain an organic medium suitable for the growth of seeds and micro-cuttings. To do this, various by-products of the wood industry (shavings, stationery sludge, recycled paper, biochar, etc.) can be added to the polymer matrix.

Position offered as part of L’écogénomique des zones minières pour un Nord canadien durable (GENOSCAN)

For more information

Population health, medical sciences
Mobilizing and transferring knowledge between northern communities and Sentinel North

Director : Holly Witteman

For knowledge transfer and mobilization to be effective between research teams and the community, community knowledge must be integrated into research projects and the knowledge generated from the research must be returned to the community in an understandable and useful way. To achieve this, in addition to having commitment from the research team and granting agencies, it is also important to have expertise in community engagement and knowledge transfer and mobilization. In this project, researchers, designers, and students from Université Laval will work with northern communities to optimize the transfer and mobilization of research knowledge in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.

First, we will identify representative ongoing and recent research projects as case studies. We will then conduct interviews with community members and researchers to identify which approaches contribute to the success or failure of research knowledge transfer and mobilization. Based on what we have learned, we will then conduct co-design workshops that will allow community members and researchers to collaborate to create useful and usable knowledge transfer tools and strategies for all involved.

Finally, with the help of North Sentinel project leaders and community partners, we will optimize the tools and strategies developed. Our project will provide a clear direction on how to ensure knowledge transfer and mobilization in northern regions and will also build a solid foundation for communication and community-based research.

Position offered as part of Mobilisation et transfert de connaissances entre les communautés nordiques et Sentinelle Nord

For more information

Food sciences, nutrition, biochemistry, toxicology
Évaluer la qualité alimentaire et les saveurs distinctives d’algues marines et de mollusques du Nunavik

Director : Lucie Beaulieu

The general objective of our project is to evaluate the aroma and quality of tininnimiutait and examine their distinctive flavors, nutritional potential, and food safety. It is broken down into three specific objectives: 1) Evaluate the nutritional composition of seaweeds and shellfish. 2) Identify and quantify the compounds associated with the distinctive flavor of seaweed and shellfish. 3) Assess potential environmental chemical and microbiological contaminants.

Position offered as part of Tininnimiutait : Évaluer le potentiel des aliments marins locaux accessibles depuis le littoral pour accroître la sécurité alimentaire et la souveraineté au Nunavik

For more information

Population health
Value chain modeling of Nunavimmiut country food

Director : Frédéric Maps

The impacts of climate change are the fastest and strongest on Earth in the Arctic regions. They create in their wake major, yet poorly understood changes in the marine ecosystems sustaining in large parts the food security of Inuit communities around Nunavik. Added to ongoing socio-economic changes, this challenging situation led Inuit to ask: "In Nunavik, will the quantity and nutritious quality of country food remain sufficient to support our food security and health?”

In collaboration with our Inuit partners in Nunavik, we are starting an ambitious project weaving together ecological and public health approaches to address the complex issue of food security.

The specific objective of this M.Sc. project is to model the value chain for marine country food items of Nunavik communities. That is, to track the amount and cost of marine harvest and fisheries from the ocean to the plate, and understand how these may change with changes in the food web.

Position offered as part of Des systèmes alimentaires ruraux durables et résistants pour les générations futures de Nunavimmiut : promouvoir la sécurité alimentaire tout en s’adaptant aux environnements nordiques en changement

For more information

Microfluidics
Development of an optofluidic microdevice and a portable system for the study of Arctic aquatic microbiomes

Director : Denis Boudreau

As a graduate student, you will have the opportunity, throughout this project financed by Sentinelle Nord, to pursue the development of a portable flow cytometry platform optimized for the study of phytoplankton, eukaryote and viral populations in Arctic aquatic environments, using various optical measurements (fluorescence, scattering). First, you will be tasked to develop novel microsystems integrating microfluidic and optical components to automate cell marking, detection and separation. This device will be interfaced with a portable system that you will be responsible for adapting and improving. Finally, an important part of this project will be to demonstrate the instrument's viability for in-the-field in situ measurements. You will be part of Professor Denis Boudreau's laboratory, a dynamic research team that is committed to teamwork and cooperation. The team is composed of scientists with backgrounds in chemistry and engineering (physics, electrical, mechanical) and is focussed on a multidisciplinary approach that combines expertise in the synthesis of nanomaterials and molecular sensors with the development of instrumentation based on optical and microfluidic techniques, with the goal of providing innovative analytical tools to address current and future issues in the life sciences. As part of your studies, you will work at the Centre d'optique, photonique et laser (COPL), an institution recognized worldwide with access to state-of-the-art infrastructure, and in close collaboration with researchers in Arctic limnology.

For more information

Questions?