GC Jobs

M.Sc. and Ph.D. Students in Agro-ecology and Climate Change Mitigation - Research Affiliate Program

Reference number: AGR23J-059095-000145
Selection process number: 23-AGR-RAP-25
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada - Science and Technology Branch
Summerland Research and Development Centre (Su-RDC) - Summerland, BC
Agassiz Research and Development Centre (Ag-RDC) - Agassiz, BC
Beaverlodge Research Farm (BRF) - Beaverlodge, Alberta
The projected start date is January 2, 2024 with an end date of March 31, 2026 (or depending on the candidate's availability or needs). It is expected that the student will work 22 to 30 hours per week.
$22.71 to $34.59 per hour (Master: $22.71 to $28.57; Doctorate: $26.72 to $34.59 - Varies as per the level of education and experience.)

For further information on the organization, please visit Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

For further information on the Research Affiliate Program (RAP), please visit Research Affiliate Program (RAP)

Closing date: 2 October 2023 - 23:59, Pacific Time

Who can apply: Persons residing in Canada, Canadian citizens and Permanent residents abroad.

To be considered for Research Affiliate Program (RAP) work opportunities, all candidates must meet the following eligibility criteria by the date of appointment:

- Be recognized as having full-time student status at an accredited Canadian post-secondary academic institution (this includes students with a disability deemed to have full-time status). Individuals pending approval of acceptance, or in the process of submitting applications are encouraged to apply as proof of enrollment will only be required prior to the start date.

- Be enrolled in an academic program that requires research as part of the curriculum.

- Be the minimum age to work in the province or territory where the job is located.

Important messages

We are committed to providing an inclusive and barrier-free work environment, starting with the hiring process. If you need to be accommodated during any phase of the evaluation process, please use the Contact information below to request specialized accommodation. All information received in relation to accommodation will be kept confidential.

Assessment accommodation

AAFC is committed to diversity and inclusion and is proud to be recognized as one of Canada’s best diversity employers. We welcome all applicants and strongly encourage candidates to self-declare if they belong to an Employment Equity designated group (i.e. Aboriginal Peoples, Persons with Disabilities, Visible Minorities or Women).

Persons are entitled to participate in the appointment process in the official language of their choice. Applicants are asked to indicate their preferred official language in their application.

Communication for this process will be sent via email. It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure accurate contact information is provided and updated as required. Candidates who apply to this selection process should include an email address that accepts email from unknown users (some email systems block these types of email).


Are you interested in conducting advanced research to mitigate the climate effects of Canadian farming systems?
Would you like to be part of the new ‘Living Lab’ paradigm, working with farmers and farming communities to reach climate change solutions and to protect the resilience and sustainability of our agricultural sector?

We have initiated two agricultural Living Labs, funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Agricultural Climate Solutions (ACS) program. The Living Lab is a ‘transdisciplinary’ approach to complex problems that engages agricultural sciences, environmental sciences, geography, hydrology, system modelling, remote sensing, food science, animal science, engineering, socio-economics and other disciplines. There are several exciting research opportunities for motivated and qualified graduate candidates.

We are recruiting three talented, imaginative and enthusiastic M.Sc. or Ph.D. candidates who are motivated to improve farming sustainability and mitigating climate impact of agriculture. You can play an important role in ensuring safe and sustainable food systems into the future. Key words to look up prior to applying are: ‘climate mitigation’, ‘living lab’ and ‘transdisciplinary’; also nitrogen budgets, soil nitrogen dynamics and STELLA modelling.

The available projects are working on cover crops, landscape, and N dynamics and budgets. Please review the project descriptions below in the "Other Information" section and when completing your application and indicate all that you would be interested in.

Work environment

The Summerland Research and Development Centre (Su-RDC), Agassiz Research and Development Centre (ARDC) and Beaverlodge Research Farm (BRF) are part of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) national network of Research Facilities. AAFC provides information, research and technology, and policies and programs to achieve security of the food system, health of the environment and innovation for growth, to government, industry and the public. This work is supported by the AAFC transdisciplinary-style project on Living labs for Agricultural Climate Solutions Program (ACS) and other research funding.

Time will be divided between research work conducted in the field and laboratory. The research locations will be based at one of the AAFC research centers at Summerland BC, Agassiz BC or Beaverlodge, AB. Regardless of location, some prerequisite safety training will be required. Any of the described projects can be worked on at any of the facilities mentioned.

For more information about the Agricultural Climate Solutions (ACS) program and Living Labs, please visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/agriculture-agri-food/news/2021/03/accelerating-the-adoption-of-climate-smart-best-practices-in-agriculture.html.

AAFC is committed to diversity and inclusion. We have several networks dedicated to ensuring that the department continues to grow as an inclusive, accessible, respectful and diverse workplace. All employees are encouraged and welcomed to join the networks and participate in their activities and events.

• The Gender and Sexual Diversity Inclusiveness Network
• The Indigenous Network Circle
• The Managers' Community
• The Persons with Disabilities Network
• The Student Panel of Representatives for Orientation, Unity and Training
• The Visible Minorities Network
• The Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network
• The Young Professional's Network

Intent of the process

There will be three positions staffed from this process, one student for each project. The students can work from their chosen Research Institute or the appropriate AAFC Research Centre, but must be able to relocate to perform Field and Lab duties at the research location. Please indicate the project(s) of interest and preferred locations.
Note that the start date should be as soon as possible after admission to the university; funding is intended for 3 and 2 years for PhD and MSc candidates, respectively. All projects must be completed by end of Program date, March 31, 2027.

Positions to be filled: 3

Information you must provide

Your résumé.

Contact information for 2 references.

A list of the courses you have taken as well as any courses that you are taking now, or that you will be taking this academic year

In order to be considered, your application must clearly explain how you meet the following (essential qualifications)

Currently enrolled or will be enrolled by the date of appointment in a Master’s or Ph.D. program at an accredited post-secondary university in one of the following specializations: biology, plant science/ agronomy, environmental science, climate change science, soil science, geography, system modeling or other related area of study.

Note: Must be currently recognized as having full-time student status in the academic institution in which you are presently enrolled, pending approval of acceptance or in the process of submitting your application. (Proof of enrollment will be required prior to start date) and must be returning to full-time studies for your next academic term.

Degree equivalency

Experience* working in the field, collecting soil, water or plant tissue samples.
Experience* conducting basic analyses of soil, water or plant tissue samples.
Experience* conducting basic statistical analysis using tools such as Excel, R , SAS, SPSS or Sigmaplot.

*In the context of student recruitment in the Federal Public Service, the experience can be acquired through the studies, work experience, or volunteer activities.

The following will be applied / assessed at a later date (essential for the job)

English essential

Information on language requirements

Knowledge of science around climate change and climate change mitigation.
Knowledge of greenhouse gas dynamics in agricultural production systems.

Interactive Communication
Planning and Organizing

Ability to communicate comfortably (orally and written).
Ability to present and interpret results in graphical format (e.g., Excel, Sigmaplot).

The following may be applied / assessed at a later date (may be needed for the job)

Agriculture and Agri-food Canada recognizes that the diversity of its employee population contributes to its strength and integrity. We are committed to achieving employment equity and developing a highly capable workforce that is representative of Canadian Society. We encourage women (especially in non-traditional occupations), Indigenous peoples (Aboriginal peoples), persons with disabilities, and members of visible minority groups to apply and declare themselves as part of one or more of the Employment Equity groups as selection may be limited to candidates belonging to one or more of the groups.

Information on employment equity

Operational Requirements:
Possession of a valid, class 5 unrestricted Driver’s license (or equivalent).
Ability to relocate to the appropriate research location.
Ability to walk on uneven land and carry loads up to 20 kg.
Ability to collect samples at ground level and to work outdoors for several hours each day, in a range of weather conditions.

Conditions of employment

Reliability Status security clearance - Each student hired through the Research Affiliate Program (RAP) must meet the security requirements of the position as a condition of employment, and therefore will be asked by the hiring organization to complete security-relevant documents.

Other information

The Public Service of Canada is committed to building a skilled and diverse workforce that reflects the Canadians we serve. We promote employment equity and encourage you to indicate if you belong to one of the designated groups when you apply.

Information on employment equity

Cover crops
This project will explore how cover crops are conceived and used by different commodities, their different goals across sectors and conditions, and how the effects of cover cropping are shaped by climate, resource availability and farmer practices. Cover crop types to be explored include: winter covers, intercrops, rotation annual crop, green manure crop, catch crop, double crop, drive-row vegetation in woody perennial crops, and others. The project could explore how cover crops influence a whole host of factors, such as: soil cover, C storage, soil health including compaction and erosion; N fixation, fertilizer inputs and N2O emissions; nutrient leaching and runoff; pest pressure and pollinators; livestock feed quality; crop quality and yield, etc. The constraints and limitations of cover crops are part of the study, such as potential invasiveness, pest hosts, wildlife damage, need for tillage, competition for water and other resources. It is likely that perspectives of cover crops across Canada will be much altered by a changing climate and shifting croplands. Data and samples will be collected from BC Living Lab sites (and possibly others) and may also include some remote sensing work and a meta analysis of data from previously published studies. Field work, lab work and computational work will be required.

Biodiversity is a critical environmental goal as formalized in the recent Montreal Biodiversity Protocol and has importance implications for food security and food system resiliency. Agriculture is know for reducing biodiversity due to monocropping and short rotations. Practices to increase biodiversity, such as longer rotations, reduced pesticides, organic amendments, and the use of more complex crop mixtures like double cropping and cover cropping, are being promoted. The effects of landscape and field edges, which can offer diversity challenges (fragmentation) and opportunities, (spatial transitions), are also being explored. This project will combine landscape analysis using remote sensing, censuses, and field measurements to examine the effect of landscape and crop diversity on landscape-scale agro-ecosystem biodiversity. The living labs in BC and the Peace Region will serve as contrasting models.

N Dynamics and budgets
This project has two parts. The first part is adapting a real-time dynamic model of soil nitrogen processes to enable farmers to customize their fertilizer practices. This model uses the STELLA visual platform so only modest modelling skills are needed and training will be provided. The second part is to assess N budgets (and P budgets) as a tool for improving nitrogen use efficiency and mitigate surplus N inputs. Both approaches reduce surplus N which in turn reduces N2O emissions with other economic and environmental benefits. The project requires direct field measurement on farms including, soil, crop and possibly greenhouse gas emissions (chamber system) for calibration and validation.


Applications submitted by email will not be accepted. You must apply on-line through https://www.canada.ca/en/services/jobs/opportunities/government.html.

Persons with disabilities preventing them from applying on-line are asked to contact the email referenced below under “Contact Information”.

Candidates will be required to pay for their own travel related to assessment and successful candidates will be responsible for obtaining their own living accommodations.

Successful completion of both a RAP work assignment and your educational program may lead to a temporary or permanent federal public service position for which you meet the merit criteria and conditions of employment.


Preference will be given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents, with the exception of a job located in Nunavut, where Nunavut Inuit will be appointed first.

We thank all those who apply. Only those selected for further consideration will be contacted.

Contact information

RAP Team – Research Affiliate Program
Date modified: