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PhD, Geochemical tools to better understand historical boreal fire severity - Québec City, Canada

PhD, Geochemical tools to better understand historical boreal fire severity - Québec City, Canada


Québec City

Start date: January or spring 2025
PhD in Earth or Water sciences, INRS
Research supervision
Prof. Pierre Francus, Centre Eau Terre Environnement, INRS
Dr. Jason M. E. Ahad, Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canda (NRCan), GSC-Québec
A doctoral fellowship of $28,000 per year is available for 3 years from NRCan’s Research Affiliate Program. Candidates must apply separately for this scholarship following enrollment in the PhD program at INRS.
Higher severity forest fires lead to greater overall emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and have the potential to release “old” carbon previously buried in deeper layers of soil and permafrost. The ability to evaluate boreal fire severity over the recent geological past would provide a much-needed historical context that is currently lacking from modern estimates of burn depth. Through a series of experiments and application using dated lake sediment cores, this PhD project will work on developing and improving geochemical techniques to understand boreal fire severity over time. The results from this research will inform national policies that promote adaptation and resilience in boreal communities under a changing climate.
This research is part of the multidisciplinary project “Development of innovative geochemical tools for understanding historical boreal fire severity” funded by Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan’s) GEM-GeoNorth program. This project brings together a team of researchers from across the Geological Survey of Canada (NRCan) and INRS.
The student’s tasks will be to:
• Determine concentrations and compound-specific isotope values of fire biomarkers from previously collected lake sediment cores.
• Carry out controlled burn experiments to determine effect of different variables (e.g., temperature, vegetation type) on distributions and isotopic values of fire biomarkers.
• Integrate geochemical data with other tools used to examine historical boreal fires in lake sediments (e.g., charcoal counting).
• Assist with method development into isotopic analyses by Orbitrap mass spectrometry – a novel technique with the potential to provide estimates of burn temperature.
A master’s degree in geology, geochemistry, chemistry or environmental sciences from a recognized Canadian or foreign university, and:
• An excellent academic record.
• Ability to work in a research laboratory.
• Ability to work alone and in a team.
• Ability to communicate effectively within the team and with academic and governmental partners.
• Ability to communicate results effectively with the public.
Send your application including the following documents in PDF: 1) a resume; 2) a cover letter; 3) all university transcripts; 4) a list of practical and technical skills; 5) the names and contact details of two referees.
Application deadline
Further information
For more information, please see:
and/or contact dr. Jason M.E. Ahad at

The selection will begin upon receipt of applications and will continue until the candidate has been recruited.
Contact email