Openings for Domestic PhD Students – Program Start – January, 2021

  • The Graduate Department of Forestry is now accepting applications for PhD positions starting in January, 2021.
  • Please indicate in your ‘letter of intent’ that you wish to start your program in January, 2021.
  • Deadline: November 19, 2020 (applicable only for domestic PhD positions starting in January, 2021)


Applied Behavioural and Chemical Ecology of Forest InsectsAssistant Professor – Jeremy Allison

Openings: MScF or PhD, preference for the latter

Description:  Most forest insects use chemical cues and signals to locate resources (e.g., host trees, mates).  As a result, these chemical cues and signals play critical roles mediating host and mate location and have immense potential for use in the development of management tactics for native and invasive forest pests.

I am currently seeking graduate students generally interested in chemically-mediated intra- and interspecific interactions, including interactions of forest insects and their hosts trees and/or natural enemies and pheromone-mediated mate and host location.

If you are interested in any of these research projects (or have a project of your own you would like to discuss), please email a copy of your curriculum vitae and a transcript of your grades to me (jeremy.allison@canada.ca).

Back to Top


Forest Ecosystems and Environmental Restoration – Professor Sean Thomas

Openings: 2-3 MScF or PhD, with a preference for the latter in the following project areas:

  • Biochar use in green infrastructure and environmental restoration.  Biochar (pyrolyzed organic material used as a soil amendment) has considerable promise for restoration of mine tailings, industrial brownfields, and green roof and urban forestry applications.  Ongoing and planned projects include work on enhancing biochars for use in these applications, including manipulations of particle size, microbial inoculation, and oxidation.
  • Greenhouse gas fluxes in heavily impacted forest systems, and remediation thereof.  Current research is quantifying greenhouse gas fluxes on log “landings” and skid trails in managed forests, and planned projects will be focused on analogous sites in urban areas, and on remediation and planning to mitigate greenhouse gas fluxes in highly impacted areas.
  • Methane flux patterns in live trees and coarse woody debris.  Ongoing and planned research is also examining methane flux patterns in live and dead trees, including methane balance of woody tissues, foliage, and woody debris.
  • Spatial ecology of temperate forest systems, and tropical-temperate comparative studies.  This work makes use of a temperate foret “mega-plot” encompassing a 13.5-ha area in old-growth forest along a lake margin at Haliburton Forest in central Ontario with ~50,000 trees mapped. The main motivations for the project are to understand the role of aquatic-terrestrial margins on forest diversity and dynamics, to examine relationships between soil factors and tree distributions and growth patterns, and as basis for parameterization and testing of individual-based forest simulation models.  We are also specifically examining spatial variation in soil greenhouse gas fluxes.  The plot has been established in collaboration with the Smithsonsian ForestGEO plot network and is being used in large-scale comparative studies of temperate vs. tropical forests.
  • Energy balance, albedo, and greenhouse gas flux patterns of urban “living infrastructure”.  Projects are being initiated on ecosystem processes in green roofs, bioswales, and similar projects with a focus on energy balance and greenhouse gas flux patterns.  Related work examines leaf- and canopy-level spectral reflectance and transmittance patterns, including analyses of UV radiation.  Experiments currently initiated include additions of biochar water recycling to “intensify” green roof installations.

Contact: Prof. Sean Thomas, sc.thomas@utoronto.ca.

Back to Top


Fire Management Systems Laboratory – Professors Dave Martell & Mike Wotton

Openings:  3-4 MScF and 1-2 PhD
Description: Fire and forest management related research topics in the Firelab, including:

Dave Martell and Mike Wotton are seeking graduate students to work on a number of fire related research topics in the Firelab (http://www.firelab.utoronto.ca). Dave Martell (david.martell@utoronto.ca) specializes in forest fire management systems and Mike Wotton (mike.wotton@utoronto.ca) in fire behaviour.  We are seeking graduate students and post doctoral researchers that are interested in becoming involved in the research projects described below.  If you are interested, please email a copy of your curriculum vitae and a transcript of your grades to one of us.

Back to Top


Forest fuels and fire behaviour – Professor Mike Wotton

Forest fire managers in Canada (and in numerous countries around the world) evaluate fire potential in their forest environment on a daily basis with outputs from the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System (CFFDRS).  This system includes weather-based models of forest fuel moisture, along with models for fuel type explicit elements of fire behaviour such as a fire’s spread rate and its intensity. Currently the Canadian Forest Service is developing a next generation of many of the models in this system.

Mike Wotton is seeking graduate students to be part of this major effort to develop a new generation of the CFFDRS for both field-based and modelling research projects. Ongoing research projects are related to forest fire behaviour and fire danger rating in general and include fuel moisture prediction, fire ignition and occurrence probability modelling, fuels characterization and rate prediction. Ideal students would have good quantitative skills (e.g., some ability with statistics, computer programming) and some experience working either in the wildfire management community or on field-based research projects.

Back to Top


Statistical analysis of forest fire processes – Professors Dave Martell & Mike Wotton

We have collaborated with several Canadian forest fire management agencies to acquire and refine several large fire, weather and forest composition datasets and we have developed collaborative relationships with statisticians and others to develop and use new statistical methods to model many important fire processes (e.g., daily fire occurrence prediction, spatial and temporal variation in fire activity, the impact of climate change on fire processes).  We are seeking graduate students that wish to become involved in those projects, either in the Firelab at Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto or one of the other universities with whom we collaborate.  Practical fire experience would be a definite asset.


Mathematical modelling of forest fire initial attack systems – Professor Dave Martell

Most forest fires are contained at very small sizes but during some days, particularly hot, dry windy days when many fires are reported, the initial attack system can become congested, initial attack can be delayed, and some fires may escape initial attack and become large destructive project fires.  Congested initial attack systems can be modelled as queueing systems with fires as “customers” that wait in the queue until they are “served” by airtankers.  The longer the fires wait the larger and potentially more destructive they become.  Fire mangers need to balance the cost of airtankers with the benefits of shorter response times.  Dave Martell is looking for Masters students with quantitative expertise (e.g., undergraduate courses in mathematics, statistics, geographic information systems and computer programming) and post doctoral researchers (in operations research) that are interested in participating in statistical analysis of initial attack system data and the development and field testing of computer-based queueing models of initial attack systems.  Practical fire fighting or urban emergency response systems experience would be a definite asset.


Fire suppression resource sharing models – Professor Dave Martell

Forest fire management agencies reduce their costs by participating in mutual aid agreements that facilitate the transfer of aircraft, fire fighters and other suppression resources from those that are experiencing low hazard conditions to those that are confronted with large numbers of fires that are being driven by extreme burning conditions.  Dave Martell is seeking Masters students with quantitative expertise (e.g., undergraduate courses in mathematics, statistics, geographic information systems and computer programming) that are interested in participating in the development of strategic planning models that fire managers can use to help determine how they can achieve an appropriate balance between large investments in aircraft and fire fighter hiring and sharing their fire suppression resources with other agencies.


Forest management planning under uncertainty – Professor Dave Martell

Forest managers evaluate strategies and develop plans for planning horizons that span more than 100 years and when they do so, they must account for the possibility that parts of the forests they are managing may be “disturbed” by fire, insects or disease.  Dave Martell is seeking graduate students with quantitative expertise (e.g., undergraduate courses in mathematics, statistics and computer programming) and post doctoral researchers (in forest management or operations research) that wish to develop statistical models of such disturbance process and/or incorporate such models in mathematical programming models of managed forest landscapes. Practical forest management experience would be a definite asset.  For further information contact Dave Martell.


Number of Positions Available in the Firelab:  2-3 MScF’s and 1-2 PhD’s

Details (PDF)

Back to Top


Forest Ecology – Professor Jay R. Malcolm

Research Possibilities (M.Sc. and Ph.D.), Malcolm lab, Graduate Department of Forestry, University of Toronto

1) Small mammals as seed predators and dispersers

Small mammals have the potential to rearrange the seed shadows of trees through their actions as seed predators and dispersers.  This study will examine variation in small mammal seed predation and caching as a function of seasonal variation in seed supply.  Study will take place on a large forest plot that has been the focus of long-term small mammal trapping and where the tree community has been mapped in unprecedented detail (all stems ≥ 1 cm DBH).

2) Northern flying squirrels as indicators of sustainable forest management practices

Northern flying squirrels are potentially vulnerable to forest management in northern hardwood forests because of their coniferous habitat use and their use of tree cavities as nests.  This study will contrast the behaviour of squirrels in logged and unlogged forests, with a focus on seasonal cavity use.

3) Insect communities of downed wood: thresholds and indicator species

A large proportion of insect species in the boreal forest are saproxylic (i.e., either rely upon dead wood as a habitat resource or rely upon other species that themselves require dead wood).  This research will use an island biogeography framework to investigate the role of dispersal capabilities in structuring the communities of insular communities.  Insects with poor dispersal capabilities and those at high trophic levels (such as parasitoids) are expected to be especially sensitive to reductions of downed wood supplies.  Research will focus upon a series of plots in which dead wood supply was experimentally manipulated to investigate the implications of variation in downed wood supply for species richness and community composition.

4) Tree migration under climate change in Ontario: increasing the potential for migration through strategic increases in habitat connectivity

We have recently undertaken a project modelling the current and future distributions of tree species in Ontario under global warming (134 species, including native species and potential new arrivals from the United States).  Our calculations suggest that the tree migration will greatly influence future forest composition.  This project will examine the potential of land-use conversion to improve upon migration possibilities.  Of particular interest are areas that might be disproportionately important in facilitating such migration (including corridors such as the Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Morraine).

5) On the sustainability of boreal clearcut logging

This project will make use of high resolution LiDAR and habitat structural information to test the hypothesis that, from a structural habitat perspective, clearcut logging is sustainable in the long term.  Many biological communities are responsive to structural habitat variation; indeed, such variation is a main axis along which one observes niche differentiation.  With the advent of LiDAR technology, which provides detailed information on forest 3-dimensional structure via remote sensing, we are now in a position to evaluate to what extent the habitat structural variation evident in unmanaged forests is emulated by clear cut logging.

Back to Top


Invasive Species LabProfessor Sandy Smith

Openings and Description: Please contact Prof. Smith directly:  (http://www.smithlab.ca/)

Back to Top


Forest Resource Economics and Management – Professor Shashi Kant

Openings: 2 PhD

Description: Various forest economics and management projects including:

  • Spatial and Non-spatial Market Models of Forest Goods and Services
  • Environmental preferences and sustainable forest management
  • Behavioral Games and Sustainable Forest Management
  • Forest tenure and timber pricing
  • Valuation and Markets for Ecosystem Services
  • Global Sustainability

Suitable candidates have strong backgrounds in resource economics, mathematical modeling, engineering, and/or management.

Back to Top


Forest Biomaterials Science – Professor Sally Krigstin

Openings: 1 M.Sc.F  and /or Ph.D.– Special opportunity to develop research skills, build your network and work with a diverse group of stakeholders from NRCan, FPInnovations, and industry on a bioenergy project. Students with engineering undergraduate degree or strong science background are encouraged to apply.

Description: Projects  related to phytosanitation of woody materials, invasive insects, thermal heat transfer in wood, wood drying technology.

Project may include: field trials, lab work, dry kiln trials and modelling.

Please send CV to sally.krigstin@utoronto.ca

Back to Top


Forest Biomaterials Science and Engineering Lab – Professor Ning Yan

Openings: Multiple, please contact Research Administrator Professor Ning Yanfor details
Description: Various projects related to:

  • Nanocellulose based advanced materials, sensors, and devices
  • Biomass conversion to green chemicals
  • Development of novel green bio-based composites from forestry resources

These projects deal with developing environmental friendly technologies that can transform renewable biomass materials to novel green products and chemicals either as substitutes for or replacements of petroleum derived plastic and chemical products. The students involved in the projects will be exposed to interdisciplinary scientific methods and approaches, and will also be actively engaged with networks of other leading scientists, researchers and industry members in Canada in the related research areas.

Suitable candidates have strong backgrounds in materials, chemistry, engineering and/or wood science.

Back to Top


Nano-Structured Industrial Biomaterials Group; Centre for Biocomposites and Biomaterials Processing – Professor Mohini Sain

Openings: 2 PhD
Description: Development of industrially significant green products through novel green technologies

Exciting opportunities to learn and sharpen your research skills in a fast-paced but congenial environment. We are a group of results-oriented researchers and students equipped with state-of art facilities. Current projects include organic light emitting device (OLED) development, process development for preparing natural oil-derived polyols for use in automotive and furniture polyurethane industry,  and investigating efficient biomass conversion routes to bioplastics using fungal treatment.

Back to Top


Population dynamics and management of forest insect pests – Professor Chris MacQuarrieProfessor Sandy Smith

Openings: MScF or PhD

We are seeking graduate students interested in the population dynamics and management of insect pests of trees. Specific opportunities are available to study the impacts of biological control on the emerald ash borer and management tools for the hemlock woolly adelgid in Ontario. Students are also welcome to propose their own projects on native and invasive insect pest management, population dynamics or related topics.

Please contact Chris MacQuarrie (Christian.MacQuarrie@Canada.ca) or Sandy Smith (s.smith.a@utoronto.ca) with a curriculum vitae and a transcript of your grades.

Back to Top

Leave a Reply