Student Opportunities

Wilfrid Laurier University

Professors Robert McLeman and Colin Robertson of Laurier have secured funding to conduct a large scale, multi-year study of environmental drivers of human population change on the North American Great Plains. Currently, we are seeking qualified applicants for 1 MSc Geography and 1 MA Geography position to work closely with us on this project beginning September 2017. The MSc position requires a student with strong skills in GIS and interest in quantitative methods (e.g. data processing, statistical modelling, exploratory data analysis, etc). Familiarity using R and working with census data would be assets, but not essential. The MA position requires a student with the ability to carry out interviews and lead focus groups discussions, necessitating strong interpersonal and communication skills (written and verbal), and the ability to transcribe and code qualitative data. Experience with qualitative data-coding software would be an asset, but not essential. For both positions, past experience living/working/studying or travelling on the Canadian Prairies would be advantageous. Given the technical and demanding nature of work on this project, prospective applicants should have a 4-year undergraduate GPA equivalent to 80% or better.

Anyone potentially interested in these positions should contact Dr. McLeman directly at before applying formally for graduate admission to Laurier. Students accepted to work on this project can expect a funding package consisting of teaching assistantships, internal scholarships, and faculty-funded research assistantships worth approximately $17,000 annually, plus research-related travel expenses. Successful applicants will be required to submit a formal application for graduate studies at Laurier and meet all institutional and departmental requirements for admission (click on the following links for more graduate program details):

Master of Arts in Geography (MA)  

Master of Science in Geography (MSc)

Wilfrid Laurier University

Form Bloom


FORMBLOOM (Forecasting Tools and Mitigation Options for Diverse Bloom-Affected Lakes) seeks 2–4 graduate students (MSc and/or PhD) to research the drivers of freshwater cyanobacterial blooms and develop tools for bloom prediction and mitigation.

Successful applicants will work in a co-supervised environment with Prof. Helen Baulch (School of Environment and Sustainability and Global Institute for Water Security, University of Saskatchewan), Prof. Sherry Schiff (Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Waterloo), and Prof. Jason Venkiteswaran (Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University) and will enroll in the MSc or PhD program at one of those universities. Opportunities to work at multiple universities are available.

Start dates: September 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018.

Project Summary

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) in lakes and reservoirs constitute a major threat to human health and, by extension, to the Canadian economy. HABs, especially those associated with cyanobacteria (cyano-HABs), have direct impacts on the safety of drinking water supplies by producing a variety of liver and nerve toxins in addition to causing taste and odour problems. Cyano-HABs have been increasing in recent years across Canada from Newfoundland to British Columbia. There is an urgent need to improve the science and to develop risk management tools for cyano-HABs.

Field campaigns in Buffalo Pound, Saskatchewan, Lake 227, Ontario, and Conestogo Lake, Ontario combined with laboratory experiments and modelling exercises will evaluate the contributions of nutrients, metals, and lake structure to the timing and severity of cyano-HABs. Carefully selected samples and datasets from other lakes and reservoirs across Canada (including the 47-year dataset from IISD–ELA) will be incorporated into cyano-HAB forecasting and mitigation efforts.

Graduate student research projects will (1) examine nutrient and trace metal dynamics through bloom progression; (2) assess links between physical conditions, sediment-surface redox and cyano-HAB development; and (3) perform long-term data analysis with a focus on winter conditions and bloom severity.

Graduate students will benefit from working with a multi-university and multidisciplinary research team and will interact with partner organizations and ecosystem managers. Students will have opportunities to participate in enhanced training opportunities associated with the NSERC CREATE in Water Security, and the Global Water Futures program.


Students will perform applied lab and field research, and require quantitative abilities, a
hearty appetite for boat-based field work, and possess strong verbal and writing skills.
Students with experience with sensor-based instrumentation are particularly welcomed.

Applicants should send their areas of research interest in a cover letter, with CV,
unofficial transcripts, and contact information of three references as a single PDF file to
Prof Jason Venkiteswaran,

FORMBLOOM is funded by the Global Water Futures program,