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We are seeking a PhD student interested in studying agricultural systems, environmental quality, climate change impacts, and agroecosystem modelling within the Bioresource Engineering Department of McGill University (Macdonald Campus) in close affiliation with Science of Technology Branch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).   An academic background in Agricultural Science, Environmental Science or Engineering, Bioresource Engineering, Ecosystem Modelling, or similar disciplines is ideal.

Canada has committed to reaching a 40% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 and net-zero by 2050. The demand for increased and sustainable agricultural production requires science-based farm management solutions that minimize GHG emissions. Reduction in GHG emissions and increased soil carbon sequestration in agroecosystems can help meet this commitment. The candidate will have the opportunity to study how basic principles of livestock science, biochemistry, microbiology and soil science impact GHG emissions from livestock farms and to learn basic principles of model development and application, providing the necessary skills for assessing a wider range of environmental issues.

The dairy and swine sectors have largely adopted intensive barn-based production systems, with liquid manure management. Liquid manure is a key source of methane, nitrous oxide, and ammonia emissions, both while stored and when applied to  land. Extensive measurements were recently carried out by AAFC researchers to assess the performance of new technologies and practices for mitigating GHG emissions from livestock manure. The successful candidate will assist to analyze and integrate this new research into a farm systems model, manure-DNDC, which links livestock, manure, and cropping systems to estimate flows of water, carbon, nitrogen at the farm scale. The candidate would have the opportunity to develop model components in C++, R, etc., with assistance from AAFC modellers.  The model will then be used to estimate GHG mitigation potentials and soil carbon sequestration across Canada for manure management technologies & strategies for both dairy and swine farms, including croplands applied with manure, livestock and farm facilities nationwide, considering spatial and climatic variability, as well as climate change impacts. Upon completion of the degree, the candidate will have gained enough expertise in model development and application to apply the skills to other topics.

The student will be supervised by Associate Professor Zhiming Qi and will work in collaboration with university and AAFC scientists and modellers.  Applications are currently being accepted to begin in either September, 2021 or January 2022.  There is an opportunity to initially work remotely on contract in the fall of 2021 prior to starting the PhD program in January 2022. Please contact Dr. Zhiming Qi (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Dr. Ward Smith (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Research Team:

Associate Professor Zhiming Qi (McGill)
Dr. Andrew VanderZaag (AAFC)
Dr. Ward Smith (AAFC)
Brian Grant (AAFC)