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Graduate Student thesis projects: Assessing and Restoring the Resilience of Urban Stream Networks, Canada

Funded by an inter-disciplinary NSERC Strategic Grant project

Opportunities:

Three MSc or PhD students

Two postdoctoral fellows or research associates

Background: hydrology, geomorphology, river mechanics, environmental science, physical geography, environmental earth science with interest in both field and laboratory investigations. Some combination of field, laboratory, GIS and numerical modeling experience.

Location: University of Waterloo (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and University of Western Ontario (Geography)

Research Partners: Toronto Region Conservation Authority, City of Toronto, Parish Geomorphic

The research will focus on the sedimentary response in small urban rivers to hydrologic changes that are characteristic of “urban stream syndrome”, especially increases in peak flows and seasonal shifts in flood occurrence from snowmelt driven spring runoff to rain-driven storm events.  Contrasting field sites have been selected in the Toronto area, in consultation with partners based on extent of urbanization effects, stormwater management strategy, and the presence of in-stream channel restoration features such as pools and riffles.

Field work will involve monitoring of hydrology and sediment transport in order to characterize and contrast the response in the different watersheds using distributed monitoring equipment and high temporal-resolution sampling of stream-flow and other attributes. 

Laboratory work is focussed on physical modelling of semi-alluvial streams under various urbanization, climate change, and sediment supply scenarios.  The laboratory work will occur at Western University in London Ontario in a 3 x 20 m tilting river tray designed for reduced-scale physical models of entire river systems.  Additional experimentation at the University of Waterloo in a 1.2 x 18 m facility purpose-built to study gravel transport over bedforms. 

Results will ultimately feed into a GIS based decision-support tool that will be used to predict ‘hotspots’ within urban river systems and model alternative scenarios for end-of-pipe and low-impact-development stormwater management, stream restoration, and sediment supply management.  

Masters and PhD level students are needed for the field and laboratory components of the research.  All students will be expected to contribute to both the field and the laboratory research.

Field component: students will be responsible for completing desktop GIS analyses, developing the details of the sampling strategies, instrumenting the sites, gathering the data and analysing the results. 

Laboratory component:  students will be responsible for determining the testing strategies, completing the background calculations for their tests, performing the experiments, and analysing the results. 

Students will also be expected to contribute to project workshops and to work with other members of the project team to help feed their results into the GIS-based decision support tool.  Successful applicants will have some demonstrated aptitude for research and understanding of river processes and fluid mechanics.  Demonstrated ability to program with Matlab and/or Python is an asset as is experience managing spatial information in ARC-GIS and/or Q-GIS. Students will all have opportunities to work alongside the project partners and personnel, and will participate in project meetings with the partners.

Students can apply and enroll at either Department of Geography at Western University or in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Waterloo.  The positions are open to all candidates although priority will be given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.  The start date for all positions is any time in 2015.  The positions are fully funded.

Post-doctoral fellow or research associate

PDF1 is needed for a one-year position as a manager of the field component of the project. They will be responsible for creating a database of available information for the field sites, performing a historical analysis of the sites using available information including air photos, managing the instrumentation phase at two of the field sites (the first is already instrumented), and managing the monitoring program for the first year of the study.  The candidate will be expected to synthesize the first year results from the entire project in a year-end report. 

Successful applicants will have a Ph.D. in a related field or a Masters degree with demonstrated aptitude for managing field research project.  The candidate should have a deep understanding of river processes and fluid mechanics.  Demonstrated ability to program with Matlab and/or Python is an asset, as is experience managing spatial information in ARC-GIS and/or Q-GIS.  The position will be located at the University of Waterloo.  The salary for the position is $3333 CDN per month plus benefits.  The positions are open to all candidates although priority will be given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.  The start date for the position is Jan 1 2015.

PDF2 is needed for a two-year position to serve as the project manager and develop the GIS-based decision support tool that will serve as the primary outcome from the project. The candidate will also undergo two phases of embedded research with the partner organizations to test and implement the tool, making them a key link in the dissemination of the results to the partners.  They will be expected to synthesize results from the student projects, maintain the database of field site information, prepare annual progress reports, and organize milestone workshops every six months. 

Successful candidates must have a Ph.D. in a related field.  Significant experience with GIS, the Python programming language, Matlab, and sediment transport research are requirements.  The position will be located at the University of Waterloo.  The salary for the position is $3333 CDN per month plus benefits.  The positions are open to all candidates although priority will be given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.  The start date for the position is anywhere between May 1 and September 1, 2015.
Please contact either Bruce MacVicar or Peter Ashmore  if interested in any of the available positions.

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