Heather Vanderlip works in the laboratory at Queen's University.

Heather Vanderlip Defends Thesis

Congratulations to Heather Vanderlip, who recently defended her thesis titled, “Trends of halogenated flame retardants in herring gull eggs across Canada from 2008–2019.” Using data from Environment and Climate Change Canada, Heather investigated trends of three halogenated flame retardants in herring gull eggs between 2008 and 2019. Despite international regulation on these chemicals, there was little evidence for changes in their concentrations in herring gull eggs during this period. This is likely due to the persistent nature of these chemicals and warrants future research to determine when changes in concentrations may be seen following international regulations.

Recruitment for Laboratory Assistant

The Queen’s Experimental Ecology and Ecotoxicology (QE3) research group is looking for two eager and detail-oriented undergraduate students to assist with quantifying microplastics in amphibians.

Project Description: Plastic pollution has become a global issue as more plastic waste has been found in oceans, on land, and in every continent of the world. Plastics are often classified by size as mega-(>1 m), macro-(2.5-100 cm), meso-(0.05-2.5 cm), and micro-(<0.05 cm) plastics. Studies looking at ingestion have found microplastics are present not only in natural ecosystems, but also in the digestive tracts of many species. However, the majority of studies have focused on the exposure and dispersal of microplastics, especially in marine environments. Few studies have examined the toxicity of microplastics to freshwater species, and fewer have looked at the toxicity to amphibians. Amphibians are highly sensitive and globally declining.There are susceptible to climate change, habitat destruction, and many types of pollution, yet we do not fully understand how they may interact with and be affected by widespread plastic pollution. The QE3 lab is interested in addressing the question of risk of microplastics to amphibians. We conducted two outdoor experiments that examined the route of microplastic uptake and developmental effects to tadpoles. Our next steps include laboratory and photo analysis to examine microplastic content in tissues, growth, and developmental rate. We are looking for two students who would be interested in helping with these exciting next steps.

Roles and Responsibilities: Successful applicants will help process samples in the QE3 clean lab to answer questions concerning the fate and effects of microplastics in tadpoles. Students will be trained to characterize microplastics using a microscope and ImageJ, and may participate in tissue digestions and density separations as required. Students will need to complete WHIMIS safety training. Students will work a total of 135hours (9 hr/week, on average) between November 15th and February 28st at a rate of $16.00 per hour.

• Must be a Queen’s undergraduate student
• Detail-oriented and organized
• Immediate availability
• Prior laboratory experience is an asset
• Interested in biology, toxicology, environmental sciences, and/or related fields
• Eager to learn and willing to ask questions.

To Apply
Interested students should email their cover letter, resume, and contact information for 3 references to Sam Gene (s.gene@queensu.ca). We recognize the diverse backgrounds and circumstances of the Queen’s student body. If you require accommodations please let us know. The QE3 Lab is committed to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). Those who wish to include anEDI/values statement are encouraged to do so. Applications will be reviewed as they are received.

Sam Gene holds a net beside a canoe near the shore of Warner Lake.

Poster Presentation at the Canadian Ecotoxicity Workshop

Sam Gene presented a poster at the Canadian Ecotoxicity Workshop.
Sam says, “I was extremely fortunate to have the support and feedback from my lab as I prepared to attend my first conference as a graduate student. This was my first opportunity to share my work with an audience since the beginning of the pandemic. I was able to connect with many ecotoxicology professionals and I found it extremely rewarding.”

Recruitment for PhD Student for 2022

Drs. Orihel (Queen’s) and Provencher (ECCC) jointly welcome applications for a PhD Student to study: “Biological Fate and Effects of Microplastics on Amphibians in a Whole-Lake Experiment at the IISD-Experimental Lakes Area”

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 bioaccumulation and adverse effects of microplastics on amphibians in the whole-ecosystem 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. The student also will have the freedom to develop their own mesocosm-scale experiments to answer mechanistic questions at a new outdoor ecotoxicological facility at at the Queen’s University Biological Station.

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, and will be co-supervised by Dr. Jennifer Provencher, Research Scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada with strong expertise in plastic pollution. Applicants will 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. At Queen’s, international PhD students can pay same tuition fees as domestic students. Preferred start date is May 1, 2022 or September 1, 2022.

Desired Qualifications & Eligibility
1. Research-based MSc degree in Biological Sciences
2. Interest and knowledge in herpetology and/or amphibian ecotoxicology
3. Experience in the field, preferably with herpetofauna and/or in aquatic ecosystems
4. Strong communication and interpersonal skills
This opportunity is open to domestic or international students.

Application Process
To apply, please send the following by email (with the exact subject line “PhD-2022-Herp”) to Dr. Diane Orihel (diane.orihel@queensu.ca) by December 10, 2021:
(a) Cover letter (1 pg.): stating the position you are applying for, explaining why you are interested in this project and in joining the Orihel and Provencher labs, and providing evidence of how you meet the desired qualifications.
(b) Curriculum vitae
(c) Transcript (most advanced university degree only; unofficial version is acceptable)
(d) Contact information for three references (include affiliations, with official work email addresses)
(e) One writing sample (e.g., thesis, technical report, and/or journal article)
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 especially encourage applications from members of under-represented groups.

You are welcome to download our poster and share it on your networks: qe3peccrecruitment2022