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...
The decision to apply for graduate studies opportunities should not be taken lightly. Graduate school is a lot of work. It can also be very rewarding, provided that you are genuinely interested in the research you are undertaking, and committed to success. In my experience, the following attributes are reliable predictors of success as a graduate student.
Cleverness - as evidenced by a strong academic track record
Curiousity - a genuine interest in research and exploration
Creativity - the ability to identify interesting/important research questions, formulate innovative and rigorous research methods, and synthesize and build upon theory, methods, concepts, and information from across relevant disciplinary and interdisciplinary domains
Criticality - the capacity to apply logic and rigour in discriminating among sources of information, arguments, methods, etc.
Communication skills - the ability to communicate clearly and succinctly (in particular, in written form)
Commitment - a combination of personal attributes and soft skills including ambition, self-motivation, discipline, and professionalism
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 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). Students who secure independent funding (for example, through scholarships or awards) may propose research projects that fall within my area of research interest.
Interested students should e-mail me the following documents:
a description of research interests (referring, in particular, to how your interests and experience relate to the specific project you wish to work on, and why the PRISM Lab is a good fit for you)
a CV (including two academic and/or professional references)
copies of unofficial transcripts (please self-assess your transcripts against the published requirements for admission to the UBC College of Graduate Studies - only students achieving first class standing will be considered)
a writing sample
your IELTS or TOEFL test scores (strong English language skills are essential, with a minimum of 8.0 IELTS score in each category)
indication of your interest in a degree program (MSc or PhD) in Biology or through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies Program Sustainability theme.
INCOMPLETE APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED.
Prospective students satisfying all of the above stated criteria may be contacted to schedule a Skype interview. Only those students who receive an invitation to apply following an interview should consider submitting a formal application (visit the UBC Okanagan College of Graduate Studies website for more information about graduate studies at UBC Okanagan, including information on how to apply).
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 MSc and PhD students as well as Post-doctoral Fellows for the following funded projects
MSc POSITIONS :
Insect Meal from Food Waste for Poultry Feeds – A Sustainable Circular Economy Solution? (Funding: $20,000 annually for 2 years) Global food systems, while critical to meeting basic human needs, are a major driver of many sustainability challenges. The livestock sector, through demand for feed resources and mobilization of nitrogen and phosphorus flows, plays a central role in such challenges and may hence also afford key mitigation opportunities. According to the United Nations, over 30% of food that is produced is lost or wasted. In Canada, total food loss/waste is estimated to be 40%. Food loss/waste exacerbates competition for agricultural land, water, and other limited resources, and contributes to a range of issues including climate change, biodiversity loss, nutrient pollution, food insecurity, and conflict. Increasing the circularity of nutrient flows in food systems by utilizing food otherwise destined for disposal as a substrate for producing insect meal for livestock feed has been proposed as a potential mitigation pathway. This two-year, funded MSc research project will evaluate a food waste-to-poultry feed pathway and its use as an input to egg production based on a case study in Western Canada. Life cycle modelling and assessment will be used to explore potential sustainability benefits, impacts and trade-offs across a range of relevant indicators. Life Cycle Assessment of LED Lighting for Pullet and Layer Barns (Funding: $20,000 annually for 2 years) Lighting systems for livestock production, in particular for poultry, are influential for animal health and productivity (Er et al. 2007; Hassan et al. 2014). Diverse lighting systems have been used in the poultry industry. Most recently, light emitting diode (LED) lighting systems have been developed for poultry housing. These systems are primarily marketed based on their energy efficiency compared to competing lighting systems, which can effect significant cost savings for producers. Several researchers have reported differences in egg weight, shell strength, rate of lay, bird behaviour and feed conversion efficiency under different single and combined monochromatic LED light regimes (Karakaya et al. 2009; Huber-Eicher et al. 2013; Mendes et al. 2013). Carefully selected LED lighting regimes may therefore have important implications for sustainability performance which go far beyond direct, farm-level energy savings. This is particularly true with respect to changes in feed use efficiency, since feed inputs are the largest contributor to supply chain resource use and emissions for egg production (Pelletier et al. 2014), as well as rate-of-lay and mortality rates, both of which influence feed use efficiency. An ISO-14044 compliant life cycle assessment study will be undertaken to evaluate the life cycle resource use and emissions implications of the use of LED lighting in egg production facilities. The student will collaborate with Egg Farmers of Canada staff to identify study sites, liase with farmers, and collect data for key production performance parameters including on-farm energy use, feed conversion efficiency, rate-of-lay and mortality rates on Canadian farms currently implementing a combination of LED and non-LED lighting in parallel layer barn systems. These data will be used to produce life cycle inventory models for egg production using LED lighting for comparison against the national average benchmark model (Pelletier 2017). Scenario models will also be developed based on literature reporting layer hen performance under alternative LED lighting regimes and in consultation with research and technical experts in this domain. The student will then collaborate with EFC staff to develop knowledge transfer materials for educating Canadian egg farmers about potential sustainability costs and benefits associated with use of LED lighting systems.
Life Cycle Assessment, Life Cycle Costing, and Techno-economic Assessment of Pulse Processing Technologies (Funding: $25,000 annually for 4 years) Among agri-food products, pulse-based proteins – in particular, pea-based protein - have attracted strong interest recently, leading to major investments to build fractionation plants in the Canadian prairies. There is growing expectation that new plant-based protein products will feature environmental labels and that their manufacturing will become more sustainable by reducing resource utilization and improving the efficiency of the value chain. Such efforts must necessarily be supported by credible, transparent, and publicly available data sets and models. The successful candidate, under the co-supervision of Dr. Nathan Pelletier (UBC) and Dr. Farid Bensebaa (NRC) will collaborate with pulse industry stakeholders to develop detail life cycle inventory and costing models for key pulse processing pathways. These will subsequently be utilized to undertake life cycle assessment, life cycle costing, and techno-economic studies of each pathway. The candidate will be based at UBC (Okanagan Campus), but will also travel to collaborate with pulse industry participants and NRC researchers. The models will be made publicly available through the Canadian Agri-food Life Cycle Data Centre (www.caldc.ca).
LCA of Sustainable Agri-food Technology and Management Alternatives (Funding: $70,000 annually, renewable for a second year)
The Food Systems PRISM Lab is seeking a highly qualified and highly motivated post-doctoral fellow to contribute to research and research management in the field of agri-food life cycle assessment. In light of the current COVID situation, a remote appointment may be considered.
The successful candidate for this position MUST possess:
a mature foundation in life cycle assessment theory and practice, including data quality and uncertainty assessment
a strong publication record and interest in further research in the field of agri-food life cycle sustainability modelling, in particular with respect to the current PRISM Lab areas of research
a keen interest in contributing to mentoring and co-publishing with a large cohort of research assistants and graduate students (MSc and PhD) while developing extensive lab management, research supervision, grant writing, and industry engagement credentials
Interested candidates should send ALL of the following materials to Dr. Nathan Pelletier (firstname.lastname@example.org). Incomplete applications will not be considered.
a cover letter summarizing the applicants qualifications with respect to the above specified requirements
a complete scholarly curriculum vitae, including contact information for at least two references
up to three relevant peer-reviewed publications
Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for an interview and letters of reference. The position is available immediately until filled.
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.