Interested in Working in the Food Systems PRISM Lab? Are you motivated, innately curious, and highly disciplined? Are you keen to hone your research skills and knowledge? Do you have a strong interest in food system sustainability issues? Are you willing and able to critically examine your own assumptions, and to challenge and be challenged in an environment of respect, collaboration, and exploration? Does the prospect of living, working and playing in the beautiful Okanagan Valley in western Canada match your lifestyle aspirations? If so, the Food Systems PRISM Lab might be a good match for you...
Research Opportunities I'm keen to work with high-caliber undergraduate, Masters, PhD and Post-doctoral researchers who have a strong interest in research and publication in the field of food system sustainability. Students may propose their own research questions, or apply to work in the context of my funded research projects (see below for descriptions of specific funded research projects for which I am currently recruiting students).
Interested students should e-mail me a description of research interests (referring, in particular, to how your interests and experience relate to the specific project you wish to work on), a CV (including two academic and/or professional references), and copies of unofficial transcripts. INCOMPLETE APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED. Please also indicate your interest in particular degree programs at UBCO, including in Biology or through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies Program. Visit the UBC Okanagan College of Graduate Studies website for more information about graduate studies at UBC Okanagan, including information on how to apply.
Prospective students satisfying all of the above stated criteria may be contacted to schedule a Skype interview.
Application deadline to the UBCO College of Graduate Studies is June 2 for January admission, October 1 for May admission and January 31 for September admission. Prospective students are advised to correspond with Dr. Pelletier well in advance of this date in order to discuss their candidacy.
Current Recruitment Calls
I am currently recruiting a post-doctoral fellow for the following funded project, to commence in January 2018 or as soon thereafter as the position is filled
Post-doctoral Project: Development of the Canadian Agri-food Life Cycle Data Centre (2 years @ $47,500 annually) The Canadian Agri-food Life Cycle Data Centre (CALDC) will create a hub for food system life cycle inventory data and life cycle assessment research in Canada. The successful applicant will work in the Food Systems PRISM lab at the University of British Columbia - Okanagan, contributing to the coordination and execution of several projects to support development of the CALDC. These include, for example:
design and development of the CALDC database and user interface (MSc project)
identification/development of agri-food life cycle inventory data quality/uncertainty management protocols for the CALCD (PhD project)
survey of Canadian food system LCI data and identification of data gaps
coordination of undergraduate research assistants in compilation, manipulation and entry of LCI datasets
identification and development of strategies and partnerships for long-term maintenance of the CALDC database
The successful candidate will also collaborate with a variety of MSc and PhD students applying LCA to study agri-food system processes at different scales and in different contexts. A strong interest in graduate student mentorship and training, collaboration and co-publication is essential.
I am currently recruiting MSc and PhD students for the following funded projects, to commence in September 2018
MSc Project: Life Cycle Assessment of Net Energy Requirements and GHG emissions for the Supply and Use of Irrigation Water in the Okanagan Valley, Canada (2 years @ $20,000 annually - note: funding for this project will be achieved through a combination of direct funding, Teaching Assistantship income, and other sources) Irrigation can contribute a significant share of the total life cycle (i.e. supply chain) greenhouse gas emissions associated with food products from irrigated production systems. Irrigation water in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada is predominately derived from either upland (gravity flow) or valley lake (pumped) sources. Delivery infrastructure varies with source and, depending on target crop and management strategy, irrigation water may ultimately be applied using a range of irrigation technologies (for example, drip line, rain gun, spray boom, etc.). Net energy requirements and greenhouse gas emissions will therefore vary with source and technology. This two year funded MSc research project will focus on characterizing the comparative life cycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with the predominant irrigation water delivery and application patterns in the Okanagan Valley. The outcomes will support future development of best management practice guidelines for reducing the carbon footprint of the Okanagan irrigation water systems.
Project outputs will include: (1) An MSc thesis; (2) life cycle inventories for predominant irrigation water delivery systems and application technologies in the Okanagan Valley (these inventories will be contributed to the forthcoming Canadian Agri-food Life Cycle Data Centre); (3) peer-reviewed journal articles describing the life cycle assessment study methods and results; and (4) presentation of findings at academic conferences and industry meetings.
This project will begin in September 2018.
MSc Project: Life Cycle Assessment of Net Zero Energy Housing Technology for the Canadian Egg Industry (2 years @ $20,000 annually) As much as 30% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are attributable to the building sector, largely due to energy use over the lifespan of buildings (UNEP 2009). Net zero energy building technologies aim to create buildings that produce at least as much renewable energy on site as they consume on an annual basis. Little work has been advanced to date to evaluate the feasibility and mitigation potential of net zero energy building technologies in the intensive animal agriculture sector (also a key GHG emitter), where housing is typically employed for confined poultry, pork and dairy production. A net zero energy layer (egg) barn pilot project - the first of its kind in Canada - is currently underway in Alberta. This MSc project will quantify the life cycle resource use and emissions reduction benefits associated with application of net zero energy technologies in this context, as well as undertake scenario modelling to evaluate potential technology optimization strategies. This project will commence in January, May, or September, 2018. Interested students should e-mail a description of research interests (referring, in particular, to how your interests and experience relate to this project), a CV (including two academic and/or professional references), and copies of unofficial transcripts to Dr. Nathan Pelletier (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please also indicate your interest in particular degree programs at UBCO, including in Biology, or through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies Program. This project will be co-supervised with Dr. Rehan Sadiq and Dr. Kasun Hewage (UBCO School of Engineering).
This project will begin in September 2018.
PhD Project: Data uncertainty and quality management protocols for agri-food life cycle assessment research (4 years @ $25,000 annually) Life cycle inventory (LCI) databases provide valuable resources for life cycle assessment (LCA) researchers undertaking to model specific supply chain activities, as the availability of “background system” data for processes that are common across many supply chains obviates the need for every researcher to create full supply chain models from scratch. However, poor quality data and inconsistent data uncertainty reporting for such processes greatly undermines the predictive power of life cycle models. For this reason, data contributions to a common pool LCI data repository must necessarily be subject to strict data uncertainty management and quality protocols. Data uncertainty management for life cycle inventory modelling and impact assessment is a rapidly evolving research area. Broad consensus as to best practices in the field has not yet coalesced. Guidance and protocols specific to food system life cycle modelling are underdeveloped to date. A PhD project focused on advancing statistical methods and best practices for data uncertainty and quality management in life cycle inventory and impact assessment research for food systems will be undertaken. This project will provide the core data uncertainty and quality management protocols for the Canadian Agri-food Life Cycle Data Centre. This project will begin in September 2018.
PhD Project: Life Cycle Sustainability Measurement and Management Program for Canadian Egg Producers (4 years @ $25,000 annually) Evolving marketplace expectations – in particular from food processors and retailers – are placing increasing pressure on agricultural producers to measure, report, and demonstrate continuous improvement with respect to sustainability indicators. Current and emerging programs and requirements are heterogeneous in terms of specific indicators employed, associated methods and data requirements, and rigor. A common approach based on best-available life cycle sustainability measurement science and data is lacking.
This four year, funded PhD project will answer this challenge by developing and implementing a rigorous, life cycle sustainability assessment platform (SAP) for the Canadian egg industry. The platform will integrate other research outputs in the Food Systems PRISM Lab, including: (1) a full egg industry supply chain LCA model based on a 2012 baseline model; (2) research regarding sustainability best management practices; (3) research regarding green technology options for Canadian egg farms; and (3) a sustainable feed formulation decision support tool. The platform will enable individual egg farmers to evaluate, monitor, and report the supply chain resource requirements and waste emissions attributable to their products relative to regional, national and housing system average benchmarks across a range of relevant resource and environmental impact domains. The calculator will also provide for assessment of the mitigation potential associated with farm-level achievement of industry best practice benchmarks or implementation of specific green technology options. This will allow farmers to set individual goals and define strategies for goal achievement.
The student will subsequently work with Egg Farmers of Canada to develop programing to incentivize implementation of the tool industry-wide, and to develop industry-level targets and milestones.
Project outputs will include a PhD dissertation, presentation of results at egg industry association professional meetings, conference presentations, submission of study results for publication in peer-reviewed venues, and a ready-to-use sustainably assessment tool for egg farmers. This project will begin in September 2018.
External Funding Regardless of availability of dedicated project funding in the Food Systems PRISM Lab, all prospective students are strongly encouraged to explore and apply for relevant external funding as well as teaching assistantships. Students who are awarded a funded project position in the Food Systems PRISM Lab and who also successfully procure additional funding for the project through scholarships, teaching assistantships, and other awards will be "topped up" (i.e. external + project funding) to a maximum of $30,000 annually (over two years) for MSc projects, $35,000 annually (over four years) for PhD projects, and $60,000 annually (over two years) for post-doctoral projects.