PhD Student Position: Breeding for Nitrogen Use Efficiency in the Context of Crop Rotation – University of Saskatchewan

PhD Student Position: Breeding for Nitrogen Use Efficiency in the Context of Crop Rotation

PhD Student Position: Breeding for Nitrogen Use Efficiency in the Context of Crop Rotation – University of Saskatchewan

We are seeking candidates for a PhD project aimed at improving the nitrogen-use efficiency of two crop species in a model rotation (lentil-wheat) through a multi-species breeding strategy designed to encourage genotypic complementarities and nitrogen uptake. We will use 1) genomic sequencing and targeted incorporation of new genes and 2) development of genomic strategies to assist breeding for climate-smart crop rotations, to reduce GHG emissions derived from synthetic fertilizer use. Work will be carried out through the Department of Plant Sciences/Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan (USask). 

PhD Student Position: Breeding for Nitrogen Use Efficiency in the Context of Crop Rotation – University of Saskatchewan

The student will be co-supervised by Dr. Kate Congreves and Dr. Kirstin Bett (Department Plant Sciences, University of Saskatchewan). The successful candidate will pursue research focused on tracing nitrogen contributions from lentil to wheat in a crop rotation, and understanding the genomic controls for improved nitrogen transfer. They will work closely with co-supervisors to plan, design, and carry smallplot multi-year experiments the field. The candidate will work closely with other members on the research team to develop suitable data analysis strategies.

The candidate will prepare scientific manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals, assist with report writing and help in the supervision of research activities associated with the project. The project is a part of a larger Genome Canada project called ACTIVATE (led by Dr. Kirstin Bett and Dr. Curtis Pozniak).

This project aims to instigate an innovative, technology-driven, multi-species breeding strategy to maximize interspecific interactions across time and space to improve performance across the cropping system as opposed to the traditional approach of improving performance of individual crops in isolation. This approach is aimed at increasing plant biomass and harvest index (thus capturing more CO2) and reducing synthetic N use (a major contributor to agriculture GHG emissions) while increasing grain yield per unit area.

Applicants are expected to hold a MSc or equivalent degree in a related field from a recognized university, but exceptional undergraduate students may be considered. Candidates must exceed the minimum grade and English language requirements to enter the graduate program in the Department of Plant Sciences (visit

Previous experience in nitrogen cycling, soil science, and/or plant breeding is preferred. Skills in data visualization and coding are considered as an asset, but not necessarily required at the application stage. The position is fully funded for a four-year term and based at USask. The successful candidate will have opportunities to apply for supplemental scholarships and teaching-assistant positions. 

We embrace equity, diversity and inclusion and seek lab members who can contribute to a welcoming, engaging environment for students and researchers of all genders, races, abilities, and backgrounds. Ideally, the candidate will start in Sept 2023. 

For further information and to apply, please send the following material to 

  • Statement of interest (1 page max)
  • Academic CV 
  • Copy of academic transcripts and an example of your own writing (e.g., a publication or thesis) 
  • Contact information for three referees We thank all applicants in advance and will respond to successful candidates.

Department: Plant Sciences
Status: Permanent
Employment Group: Graduate Students – PSAC
Rate of Pay: Current rates of pay
Posted Date: 6/20/2023
Closing Date: 7/31/2023
Number of Openings: 1
Work Location: May be eligible for hybrid work under the terms of USask’s Alternative Workspace Guidelines


The University is committed to employment equity, diversity, and inclusion, and are proud to support career opportunities for Indigenous peoples to reflect the community we serve. We are dedicated to recruiting individuals who will enrich our work and learning environments. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, in accordance with Canadian immigration requirements, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority.

We are committed to providing accommodations to those with a disability or medical necessity. If you require an accommodation to participate in the recruitment process, please notify us and we will work together on the accommodation request. We continue to grow our partnerships with Indigenous communities across the province, nationally, and internationally and value the unique perspective that Indigenous employees provide to strengthen these relationships.

Verification of Indigenous Membership/Citizenship at the University of Saskatchewan is led and determined by the deybwewin | taapwaywin | tapwewin: Indigenous Truth policy and Standing Committee in accordance with the processes developed to enact the policy. Successful candidates that assert Indigenous membership/citizenship will be asked to complete the verification process of Indigenous membership/citizenship with documentation.

The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respects to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another. Together, we are uplifting Indigenization to a place of prominence at the University of Saskatchewan.



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