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 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 a degree program (MSc or PhD) 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 MSc and PhD students as well as Post-doctoral Fellows for the following funded projects
Characterizing the carbon footprint of organic crop production in Western Canada (Funding: $20,000 annually for two years (plus possible paid internship for summer 2020)
Organic agriculture continues to be among the fastest growing sub-sectors of the agri-food industry in Canada and around the world. Currently occupying over 300,000 ha, the production of organic field crops is of central importance in the context of Canadian organic agriculture as well as the production of a wide-range of secondary organic products (e.g. breakfast cereal, bread, animal feeds, etc) derived from field crops.
Organic agriculture is often perceived to be, and promoted as, a climate-friendly alternative to conventional agriculture. However, farm size, production practices, yields and efficiencies can be much more heterogeneous than in conventional agriculture in Canada and while some specific organic practices may be relatively climate friendly, others may not be. The implications of this heterogeneity for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of Canadian organic field crops are not well understood. Moreover, a robust comparison of the GHG emissions from organic products to those from conventional, non-organic field crop production systems in Canada, taking into account regionally-specific production conditions and efficiencies, has not been possible.
The goal of this MSc project is to use a modelling framework called Life Cycle Assessment to evaluate the net GHG emissions of major Canadian organic field crops in Western Canada, taking into account all sources of GHG emissions resulting from both on farm and all associated upstream activities (e.g. equipment and fuel production and delivery, nutrient procurement strategies, management of crop residues, etc.), and potential sinks of carbon on farms.
The analysis will contribute to a multi-institutional project aiming to assess GHG emissions for organic field crops Canada-wide. The student will collaborate directly with two other MSc students located at the University of Waterloo and Dalhousie University who will evaluate GHG emissions for organic field crops in central and eastern Canada, respectively. Using a common approach to characterize farming activities and estimate emissions in each region for each of six major field crops, our study will provide the first, nation-wide profile of greenhouse gas emissions across the organic field crop sector.
The successful candidate for this fully-funded MSc project will ideally have a background in agriculture and/or agricultural engineering, industrial ecology, or environmental studies, and a strong interest in sustainable food systems research.
This project will commence in September, 2020. The successful candidate may also be eligible for a paid internship during summer of 2020 to begin data collection.
Implications of Supply Management for Food Security, Food Sovereignty and Environmental Sustainability in the Canadian Egg Industry (Funding: $20,000 annually for 2 years) Commodity egg production in Canada is subject to "supply management." A central marketing agency (Egg Farmers of Canada) oversees quota-based production and marketing of eggs from over 1000 farms distributed across ten Canadian provinces and one territory. Supply management was implemented to prevent "boom/bust" cycles in egg production, and hence promote fair prices and income stability for farmers, and price predictability for consumers. It also has the effect of ensuring geographically distributed rather than concentrated production.
In non-supply management egg industries in other countries, production of eggs and other livestock products are often concentrated in regions where feed inputs are grown. This has the benefit of shortening transportation distances for feed inputs. However, it also implies longer transport distances for livestock products to consumer markets (often involving use of smaller, refrigerated vehicles), as well as, potentially, higher rates of food loss to spoilage. Centralized compared to distributed production may also present different food security and food sovereignty outcomes.
This interdisciplinary MSc project will investigate potential food security, food sovereignty, and environmental benefits and impacts of the supply managed Canadian egg industry relative to a hypothetical non-supply managed production scenario. An ISO-14044 compliant life cycle assessment study will be undertaken to evaluate the life cycle resource use and emissions implications.
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.
PHD POSITIONS: I AM NOT CURRENTLY RECRUITING ADDITIONAL PHD STUDENTS
POST-DOCTORAL POSITIONS: I AM NOT CURRENTLY RECRUITING ADDITIONAL POST-DOCTORAL FELLOWS
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.