Project Description: The pELAstic Study is an ecosystem-scale experiment that will help us better understand the effects of microplastic pollution on boreal lakes and their wildlife. This ambitious study is led by a highly collaborative, interdisciplinary team of academics, government scientists, and NGO partners from across North America. Based at the world-renowned IISD-Experimental Lakes Area, the pELAstic Study will experimentally add microplastics to a whole-lake ecosystem and monitor the environmental fate and ecological effects of these emerging contaminants. The PhD student will join the pELAstic research team to assess the potential adverse effects of microplastics on amphibians in the wholeecosystem experiment. The student will be responsible for characterizing the amphibian communities in the study lakes, as well as measuring a comprehensive suite of ecologically relevant toxicity endpoints in amphibians.

Academic Environment. The successful applicants will join the QE3 Research Group directed by Dr. Diane Orihel, Assistant Professor and Queen’s National Scholar in Aquatic Ecotoxicology. Applicants can be affiliated with the Department of Biology at Queen’s University, one of Canada’s top universities.

Funding. This research project is funded by an NSERC Plastic Science for a Cleaner Future Grant. Guaranteed stipend for PhD students is at least $24,800 CAD per year. Preferred start date is September 1, 2021.

Desired Qualifications & Eligibility:

Research-based MSc degree in Biological Sciences
Interest and knowledge in herpetology
Experience in the field, preferably with herpetofauna
Strong writing and interpersonal skills  

Unfortunately, due to the COVID19 pandemic, this opportunity is only open to domestic students.

Application Process. To apply, please send the following by email (with the exact subject line “QE3PhD21”)  to Dr. Diane Orihel (diane.orihel@queensu.ca) by April 15, 2021:  

Cover letter (1 pg.): stating the position you are applying for, explaining why you are interested in this project and in my research lab, and providing evidence of how you meet the desired qualifications.
Curriculum vitae
Transcript (most advanced university degree only)
Contact information for three references (must include affiliations with official work email addresses)
PDFs of your journal publications, if applicable (or MSc thesis, if you have not yet published your work)

Incomplete applications will not be considered, and only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

The QE3 Research Group strives to be an equitable, diverse, and inclusive research community where everyone is welcomed, supported, and empowered to grow to their fullest potential. We encourage applications from Indigenous, Black, and other equity-seeking persons.  


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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