PhD and MSc graduate positions in Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology

Our lab is focused on understanding how terrestrial ecosystems function and why they are structured the way they are (http://post.queensu.ca/~groganp/).  We investigate biogeochemical interactions between plants, herbivores, soil microbes, and soils that significantly affect ecosystem functioning.  Right now, we are interested in gaining a better understanding of the controls on carbon and nutrient cycling and their interactions in arctic tundra, temperate grassland and forest ecosystems, and have experiments and collaborations across Canada as well as in Alaska and Scandinavia.  The underlying rationale for our research is that an improved understanding of biogeochemical interactions is essential to predicting the impacts of perturbations such as changes in climate and land-use management, and therefore to developing appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies.  Here are just four of many questions that I would be interesting in developing with new graduate students:

How do the differences between nitrogen and phosphorus biogeochemistry influence the functioning of low arctic tundra ecosystems, and our understanding of how they will be affected by climate change? 

How will thawing permafrost alter vegetation structure, biogeochemical cycling, and methane production in low arctic tundra ecosystems?

What is the relative importance of bottom up controls (water and/or nutrient availability) compared to top-down controls (deer herbivory) on plant community structure and productivity in old field meadow grasslands of E. Ontario?

What are the likely impacts of decreased summer precipitation on these grasslands as climate changes over the next 100 years?

Applicants should e-mail me, Dr Paul Grogan (groganp@queensu.ca), with a short CV and an insightful paragraph outlining specifics of how your interests and experience would contribute to our lab research, and the kinds of questions you would like to address.


I've spent more time than many will believe [making microscopic observations], but I've done them with joy, and I've taken no notice those who have said why take so much trouble and what good is it?

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

It's a parts list... If I gave you the parts list for the Boeing 777 and it had 100,000 parts, I don't think you could screw it together and you certainly wouldn't understand why it flew

Eric Lander

What is true for E. coli is also true for the elephant

Jacques Monod

The world becomes full of organisms that have what it takes to become ancestors. That, in a sentence, is Darwinism

Richard Dawkins

Shall we conjecture that one and the same kind of living filaments is and has been the cause of all organic life?

Erasmus Darwin

Nature proceeds little by little from things lifeless to animal life in such a way that it's impossible to determine the line of demarcation


Cells let us walk, talk, think, make love, and realize the bath water is cold

Lorraine Lee Cudmore

In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history

Charles Darwin

It is my belief that the basic knowledge that we're providing to the world will have a profound impact on the human condition and the treatments for disease and our view of our place on the biological continuum

J. Craig Venter

Imagine a house coming together spontaneously from all the information contained in the bricks: that is how animal bodies are made

Neil Shubin

A grain in the balance will determine which individual shall live and which shall die - which variety or species shall increase in number, and which shall decrease, or finally become extinct

Charles Darwin

The stuff of life turned out to be not a quivering, glowing, wondrous gel but a contraption of tiny jigs, springs, hinges, rods, sheets, magnets, zippers, and trapdoors, assembled by a data tape whose information is copied, downloaded and scanned

Steven Pinker

We wish to discuss a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid. (D.N.A.). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biologic interest

Rosalind Franklin

We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget

Mary Roach

The systems approach to biology will be the dominant theme in medicine

Leroy Hood

I've always been interested in animal behavior, and I keep reading about it because it's so surprising all the time - so many things are happening around us that we neglect to look at. Part of the passion I have for biology is based on this wonderment"

Isabella Rossellini

Because all of biology is connected, one can often make a breakthrough with an organism that exaggerates a particular phenomenon, and later explore the generality

Thomas Cech

Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of evolution

Theodosius Dobzhansky

Biology is now bigger than physics, as measured by the size of budgets, by the size of the workforce, or by the output of major discoveries; and biology is likely to remain the biggest part of science through the twenty-first century

- Freeman Dyson

Nothing can be more incorrect than the assumption one sometimes meets with, that physics has one method, chemistry another, and biology a third

- Thomas Huxley