Tag Archives: McGill university

Three new positions in ecosystem services research at McGill University

We’re looking to hire three new people to join our team working on the role of landscape structure and biodiversity in the provision of ecosystem services. The new positions include a postdoc to work on developing models of ecosystem services, a PhD position in historical ecosystem ecology,  and a (part time) project manager. We’re working in the Montérégie, a lovely agricultural landscape just southeast of Montreal.

For more about the project, check out our website: http://www.monteregieconnection.com/

Here’s more detail on each of the three positions:

Postdoctoral researcher

We are seeking an outstanding postdoctoral researcher to be a part of a dynamic multi-lab team that is mapping and modeling past, present, and future provision of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the agricultural landscape around Montréal. The primary research project would involve synthesizing historical and current geospatial data to evaluate how landscape configuration effects the provision of ecosystem services in this region. This analysis will inform the development a spatial model of the provision of ecosystem services under different land use/land cover configurations in the greater Montreal region.

A successful candidate will have a PhD in a related field (e.g., Geography, Ecology); experience with ecosystem modeling techniques, including GIS and computer programming; and be familiar with the literature on ecosystem services. The applicant should have a good publication record and a demonstrated ability to work independently and as part of a large team. Capacity to read and speak French is a plus.

The successful applicant would be primarily based in the lab of Dr. Elena Bennett at McGill’s Macdonald Campus, but would also be supervised by the co-PIs on the project, including Dr. Jeanine Rhemtulla (Geography), Dr. Andrew Gonzalez (Biology), and Dr. Martin Lechowicz (Biology). An office on McGill’s downtown campus will also be provided. Salary will be $35,000 per annum plus standard McGill benefits. We encourage applicants of all nationalities to apply.

Applicants should submit a CV, a statement detailing how their research interests align with the focus of the project, and the names and contact information for three references. Start date is targeted for January 2012. Please submit applications by September 1, 2011 to: Elena Bennett (elena dot bennett at mcgill dot ca)

PhD Student in Historical Ecosystem Ecology

We are seeking a PhD student interested in historical ecology, landscape ecology, and ecosystem services to be a part of a dynamic multi-lab team that is mapping and modeling past, present, and future provision of ecosystem services in the agricultural landscape around Montreal. The student’s project would involve examining historical records to estimate past provision of ecosystem services, interpretation of historical air photos and other maps, and modeling relationships between land use, spatial configuration, and ecosystem services through time. There is considerable room for a student to develop their own project within these general parameters.

A successful candidate should have an MSc degree in a related field, experience with GIS, remote sensing, or other ecosystem modeling techniques, and an ability to work independently and as part of a large team. Ability to read and speak French is a plus.

The successful applicant could be a PhD student in either Geography or Natural Resource Sciences at McGill University and would be co-supervised by Dr. Elena Bennett and Dr. Jeanine Rhemtulla. McGill University, located in Montreal, QC, is one of Canada’s top universities and boasts a large international student population.

Applicants should submit a CV, a statement of research interests, a copy of their transcripts, and the names and contact information for two references. Start date is targeted for Fall 2012. Please submit applications to: Jeanine Rhemtulla and Elena Bennett (jeanine dot rhemtulla at mcgill dot ca) and (elena dot bennett at mcgill dot ca)

Project Manager (Part Time)

We are seeking an organized, energetic, and enthusiastic project manager for a new project about biodiversity, connectivity, and ecosystem services in the settled landscapes of the greater Montreal region. The project involves a large team of professors and their students (~30 people total) working on both the fundamental and applied aspects of this research. Our project seeks to understand how past and future land use change will affect habitat connectivity, biodiversity, and the provision of multiple ecosystem services. Policy makers and managers often must make decisions with limited rigorous information about how to manage for sustainable landscapes. In order to improve the link between science and decision making our project includes actively engaged partners from local cities, counties, NGOs, as well as regional and provincial government. Our research will improve both the science and decision-making required to manage for sustainable and resilient landscapes.

Project management would include:

  • Managing the activities and people associated with the project and ensure that we are meeting project goals
  • Ensure communication across the researchers involved with the project
  • Management of GIS data central to the project, creation of geodatabases
  • Coordinating and tracking the project budget
  • Maintaining communication with our project partners
  • Identify opportunities for improving and enhancing the project

We seek a project manager who is self-motivated, extremely organized, and has experience running a major research project or managing a research team. Because the project manager would also have a role in managing geodatabases for the project, experience with GIS and geodatabase management is also important. A graduate degree (M.Sc. or PhD) in environmental sciences would be an advantage. The position will involve considerable communication with our local management partners, so the successful applicant must be bilingual (French/English).

We envision a part-time (up to 3 days/week) position with a salary of approximately $20,000 per annum.

Applicants should submit a CV, a statement of interests and experience, and contact information for three references. Start date is targeted for Fall 2011. Please submit applications by July 1, 2011 to: Elena Bennett (elena dot bennett at mcgill dot ca)

Campus Sustainability Resources

Universities are important testbeds for the development of a sustainable civilization, as sustainability requires learning and innovation, and campuses are societal centers of learning. Many projects have attempted to assess sustainability at universities.

2008 College Sustainability Report Card graded the sustainability of the 200 North American universities with the largest endowments. Schools were graded (from “A” to “F”) in seven categories. McGill improved from last year when in got a C+. This year it got a B- coming 3rd in the Canadian universities evaluated, behind UBC and U of Toronto, but beating U of Alberta. McGill’s grade puts it in the top 1/3 of North American universities.

The Sierra Youth Coalition has a Sustainable Campus Project, part of which has been focussed on developing a Campus Sustainability Assessment Framework. A number of different Canadian universities have conducted CSAF assessments. The Concordia Campus Sustainability Assessment at Concordia is an active and ongoing project. In many ways they are ahead of McGill, however they have been using the CSAF, hopefully we can learn from what they have been doing and build upon it. While CSAF is a start, the framework lacks a conceptual foundation, which makes, prioritizing, interpreting and identifying opportunities for improvement among its many (~170) indicators difficult. Also the CSAF was not developed in collaboration with university decision-makers, consquently it doesn’t have much credibility to them.

Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education is also developing a system Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) which is a: voluntary, self-reporting framework for gauging relative progress toward sustainability for colleges and universities.

The AASHE and it has also identified an number of other campus sustainability assessments:

Auditing Instrument for Sustainability in Higher Education (AISHE)
Dutch Committee for Sustainable Higher Education (DHO)
An assessment process in which a campus team rates the department/campus on a scale of 1-5 (1 is lowest, 5 highest) for 20 indicators, mostly related to educational goals, process and outcome.

Campus Sustainability Selected Indicators Snapshot
New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (NJHEPS)
A tool for rating a campus’s performance from 1 to 7 (1 being the least sustainable, 7 being the most) for a range of environmental indicators. A series of questions to accompany each assessment category is also provided.

CSA Guidelines and Suggested Indicators
Campus Sustainability Assessment Project (CSAP)
Proposes 38 snapshot indicators in 14 categories; including metrics for assessing each indicator.

Draft List of Environmental Performance Indicators
Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence (C2E2)
Listing of mostly quantitative environmental performance indicators.

Environmental Management System Self-Assessment Checklist
Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence (C2E2)
A series of 33 questions in 5 categories for quantitatively evaluating an environmental management system.

Sustainability Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ)
University Leaders For A Sustainable Future (ULSF)
Assessment process in which a campus team rates their institution�s accomplishments on seven dimensions of sustainability in higher education.

McGill Campus Sustainability Report Card

This spring I am working with a student to extend a project from Environmental Research (ENVR 401) project that created a campus sustainability report card for McGill. While universities are important testbeds for the development of a sustainable civilization, too often science is not used to monitor and evaluate what is actually been accomplished. The report card project is meant to address this gap. It is designed to be used to help guide McGill’s sustainability policies by identifying how McGill’s sustainability efforts have been performing. The client for this project is University Services at McGill, whose new sustainability director is Dennis Fortune.

There has been quite a bit of work done on sustainability at McGill. The Sustainable McGill Project conducted a the McGill Sustainability Assessment.

Rethink has a list of the many McGill student groups working on environmental issues. Environmental Officer Kathleen Ng has a good understanding of past and present initiatives, and she has helped organize the ReThink events at McGill – including this years event March 28, and the website hosts lots of documents, and presentations from past years.

Some of various efforts on sustainability at McGill have been reported in the McGill Daily articles Wild students, old monster and Stepping up, and last year, former MSE students made a documentary on recycling at McGill, In the Quiet and Still Air of Delightful Studies, which captures some of the issues and conflicts circulating around sustainability on campus. And the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education recently had an article on a recent visit one of their staff made to McGill.