Graduate Student Research Opportunities

Graduate students in the OAC have a unique opportunity to work alongside faculty to tackle some of the world's greatest challenges.

Discover the current research opportunities available to graduate students within the OAC.

Other opportunities are available beyond this list; please do not hesitate to reach out to key contacts such as individual faculty members, graduate coordinators or graduate program assistants within OAC if you are interested in learning more about graduate opportunities. Note: this is not a comprehensive list.

Student Research Opportunities

Position:  M.Sc. (Thesis) - Management of true armyworm (TAW) in Ontario Cereals.

Description: We are currently seeking an enthusiastic, committed, and hard-working graduate student (M.Sc.) interested in studying the management of true armyworm (TAW) Mythimna unipuncta (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in Ontario cereals. This project will provide better understanding of TAW biology and management under modern cereal production practices and climate conditions. The current state and impact of biological control of TAW will also be studied. The M.Sc. student will be primarily located at the Ridgetown Campus of the University of Guelph; although course work may occur on the Guelph campus.

OAC Academic Unit: Department of Plant Agriculture

Advisor Name: Dr. David Hooker; Dr. Jocelyn Smith

Start Date: January 2022

Stipend: $22,000/year

Pre-requisites: The preferred candidate will hold a BSc degree with at least some specialization in entomology, agronomy or a related discipline. The successful candidate must have a keen interest in entomology, agriculture, pest management, ecology and insect-plant interactions. Candidates must be able to work independently and as part of a collaborative team. Candidate must have a valid "G" Ontario driver's license. Applicants must meet the admission requirements for the Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph.

Application Instructions: Applicants should send a cover letter outlining your research interests, a current CV, unofficial transcripts and contact information for 2 academic references, as soon as possible, by email to: Dr. David Hooker ( or Dr. Jocelyn Smith (

Position: M.Sc. or PhD - Cultivating high-value plants in controlled environments

OAC Academic Unit: School of Environmental Sciences

Start date: Please contact Dr. Youbin Zheng

Advisor NameDr Youbin Zheng

Location: University of Guelph

Funding: Minimum stipend of $17,000 per year for MSc and $20,000 per year for PhD

Project Description:

Climate change, urbanization, population growth, pandemics, wars, land degradation, limited arable land, food insecurity, and lack of fresh food in remote areas pose significant challenges for society.

Controlled environment (CE) plant production technologies like greenhouses and vertical farms offer innovative and integrated solutions.

CE enables optimal growing conditions regardless of extreme weather caused by climate change, making it difficult to cultivate high-value crops in open fields. By using soilless media, CE eliminates the need for fertile soil and produces top-quality plant-based food and medicines. CE systems are highly resource-efficient, using less water and nutrients than traditional field production. They also address localized shortages of fresh produce during pandemics, conflicts, or natural disasters, directly providing consistent, high-quality plant products to consumers. This reduces the environmental impact of long-distance transportation, benefiting large cities and remote regions, such as Canada's far north.

It's an exciting time for CE plant production research, with rapid industry growth and demand for talented, well-trained individuals.

The School of Environmental Sciences has a graduate student position open to domestic applicants (i.e., Canadian citizens or permanent residents) to join a team of scientists working on cultivating high-value plants in controlled environments. This position is available for both M.Sc. and/or Ph.D. programs.

Qualified candidates will have:

  • An outstanding academic record;
  • a background in plant/soil science;
  • strong academic writing skills;
  • the motivation to secure a promising career right after graduation

Application Instructions:

Please get in touch with Dr Youbin Zheng at  for more details regarding the research and application process to join his lab as a graduate student.  

Applicants are required to include their CV, unofficial transcript and writing examples. 


The Raine lab at the University of Guelph has an exciting opportunity for a dynamic graduate student interested in PhD research on the value of wild pollinators to crop pollination. 

We depend on wild pollinators to support production of many of the foods we eat, particularly for fruit and vegetable crops. Demand for crop pollinators is increasing rapidly leading to real risks of reduced yields or crop quality if these ecosystem services are insufficient to meet demand. Managed honeybee stocks cannot keep pace with increasing pollinator demands, so we must find ways to sustain and enhance the free services provided by wild pollinators in our agricultural landscapes to support crop production. This project will assess the current status of pollination services for several economically important crops in Ontario (e.g. apple, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and cucurbits). The graduate student will determine which flower visiting insect species are consistently the most important pollinators of each crop, and assess the potential for pollination deficits both now and into the future. We will work to develop a toolkit to support farmers and producers in assessing their pollination needs within their farm landscape. This will involve identifying key landscape features and habitat types important to support wild pollinator biodiversity to restore, sustain or enhance sustainable pollination services on these farms. 

The Raine lab is a dynamic and collegiate team of motivated scientists studying diverse research questions relating to the behaviour, ecology and conservation of insect pollinators ( as part of the School of Environmental Sciences. Successful candidates will have a chance to interact with other research groups (including the Honeybee Research Centre) and diverse faculty across campus. The University of Guelph was recently ranked in the top 50 institutions in the world for ecology, and has very strong links to agricultural and food research.

OAC Academic Unit: School of Environmental Sciences

Advisor Name: Dr. Nigel Raine

Number of positions available

1 PhD position

Desired background

The successful candidate will have:

  • A master’s degree in a relevant field (e.g. behavioural or evolutionary ecology)
  • Excellent written skills evidenced by scientific journal papers, conference papers or technical reports
  • Willingness to work with bees and other insects
  • Strong interpersonal and communication (oral and written) skills
  • Valid driver’s licence (the project involves a significant field work component)

Desirable skills and experience:

  • Previous research experience of collecting ecological or behavioural data (particularly in the field) would be an asset. 
  • Demonstrable interest in science communication and/or extension.
  • Ideally the candidate would be able to start as soon as possible. 

Application Process 

Qualified candidates are encouraged to submit a (a) cover letter outlining their expertise, (b) a CV, (c) a copy of your academic transcript, (d) reprints of relevant papers, and (e) contact information for 3 referees to Dr. Nigel Raine ( with the subject line “PhD position in crop pollination by wild pollinators”. Applications will be reviewed as they are received and will continue until the position is filled.

Position: PhD - Investigating the Soil Microbiome

Understanding soil biogeochemistry is essential to the stewardship of ecosystem services provided by soils, such as soil fertility (for food, fibre and fuel production), water quality, resistance to erosion and climate mitigation through reduced feedbacks to climate change. Microbial communities play a central role in virtually every biogeochemical cycle on earth. While soil microbial diversity and activity can be characterized using molecular tools, quantitative linkages to ecosystem function are often difficult. We need a better understanding of how extrinsic state factors or edaphic soil conditions (physical and chemical factors intrinsic to the soil) drive microbial activity and ultimately, biogeochemical cycling, in order to predict soil ecosystem responses to changes in climate, vegetation or land management.

An array of scientific approaches, including short term field studies, and long term field experiments will be used to investigate microbial drivers of biogeochemical cycling at the plant soil microbiome interface.

This research will contribute to our understanding of the ecosystem tradeoffs required to maximize productivity in agroecosystems in order to meet the demands of a global population while minimizing impacts on soil, air, and water quality.

OAC Academic Unit: School of Environmental Science

Advisor: Kari Dunfield (

Start Date: September 2022 or later

Stipend: Minimum $20,000 per year

Pre-requisites: Master of Science in a related discipline. Soil microbiology, microbial ecology, or soil scientists preferred.

Application Instructions: Please send a statement of interest, CV and unofficial transcripts to Dr. Kari Dunfield (

Learn more:

Postdoctoral Positions

New postdoctoral opportunities are added on an ongoing basis. Please check back often for future opportunities.

student holding a testing device, analyzing a specimen, wearing a labcoat

Connect with OAC

Wondering what other opportunities are available? Looking for a faculty advisor for your graduate degree? Reach out to one of the contacts below specifying your area of interest.

General Program Inquiries

Manager, Graduate Recruitment and Programs: 
Leigh West (
519-824-4120, Ext. 52101

Graduate Coordinator: Dr. Wendy Pearson (
Graduate Program Assistant: Jacob Harwood (

Graduate Coordinator: Dr. Helen Hambly Odame (
Graduate Program Assistant: Lorena Barker (

Graduate Coordinators: Dr Asim Biswas and Dr Marc Habash (
MES Program Advisor: Dr Kimberley Bolton (
Graduate Program Assistant: (

Graduate Coordinator - M.Sc.: Prof. Alfons Weersink (
Graduate Coordinator -  MFARE and MDTM: Dr Spencer Henson (
Graduate Program Assistant: Jennifer LaPorte (

Food Safety and Quality Assurance:

Graduate Program Coordinator: Dr. Don Mercer (
Graduate Program Assistant: Robin Verrall (

Food Science:

Graduate Coordinators: Dr. Mike Rogers (
Graduate Program Assistant: Jon Abram (

MLA Graduate Coordinator: Dr. Steven Clarke (
Graduate Program Assistant: Diana Foolen (

Graduate Coordinator: Dr. Istvan Rajcan (
Associate Graduate Program Coordinator: Dr Max Jones (
Graduate Program Assistant: Tara Israel (

Rural Planning and Development

Graduate Coordinator: Dr. Ryan Gibson (
Graduate Program Assistant: Lorena Barker (

Rural Studies

Graduate Coordinator: Dr. Leith Deacon (
Graduate Program Assistant: Lorena Barker (