About the Positions
One funded MSc studentship or one funded PhD studentship in the area of UAV remote sensing, field monitoring of crops and soil, and analysis of root-soil-microbial interactions are available under the supervision of Dr. Cameron Proctor at the University of Windsor. These students will support a multi-year UAV monitoring program paired with low-cost automatic minirhizotrons and field campaigns to monitor photosynthesis, root exudation, and aboveground plant traits in support of the development of new precision farming tools. Field experiments will be paired with a novel rhizobox/greenhouse that permits precise environmental control to simulate and study the effects of climate change upon crops. Above and belowground vegetation are equal components controlling crop growth, yet this is a rare opportunity to study them together. By studying the how plant shoots and roots respond to environmental conditions we will investigate how to reduce fertilizer usage and secure food production to meet the 70% increase necessary for the 2050 population while decreasing agricultural impacts on natural ecosystems.
Start Date: September 2023 (January 2024 start will be considered)
Application Deadline: All applicants should contact Dr. Proctor directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss program and start options, and possible summer work. For a fall 2023 start, applicants are encouraged to submit a complete application package by May 1st, 2023 to be eligible for the Graduate Entrance Scholarship. The final deadline to have your application and all fees submitted is July 1st, 2023, so interested candidates should contact Dr. Proctor ASAP.
Research Project: Precision Farming of the Hidden Half: Integrating Roots into Agriculture using Remote Sensing
The boundary between plant roots and soil is one of the most important as it controls the flow of nutrients into our food chain. However, there are few tools for farmers to manage plant roots despite their considerable importance in nutrient use efficiency, water uptake, and formation of stable soil carbon. New generation tools such as UAV and minirhizotrons (e.g., buried cameras) offer new possibilities to monitor root biomass and activity in order to understand how farming management practices, the environment, and climate change affect crop yields and agriculture sustainability. Using a variety of field observations and laboratory experiments directly manipulating the growth environment, students will conduct high-resolution monitoring of above and belowground crop biomass, root-borne carbon, and responses of the soil and microbial system to differing environmental conditions.
This project will develop connections between above and belowground morphological traits and physiology and determine the dynamics of root sink strength (biomass and activity) and its role in the downregulation of photosynthesis. Knowledge obtained will aid the development of precision farming practices under drought stress, and help the agricultural community make science-based management decisions.
The position involves considerable field work and will offer students the opportunity to learn about agricultural practices, deep learning for image classification, and build productive research partnerships with local farmers and private agribusiness.
• BSc in Biology, Chemistry, Earth or Environmental Science (or similar for MSc applicants)
• MSc in Biology, Chemistry, Earth or Environmental Science (or similar for PhD applicants)
• Experience working with quantitative data and strong quantitative skills
• Laboratory or field data collection experience
• Experience with UAV piloting and image processing, or willingness to learn
• Excellent written and oral communication skills
• Strong organization skills
• Attention to detail
• Demonstrated ability to work independently
How to apply
Please send the following to email@example.com
• A cover letter explaining why you would like the position and how you meet the search criteria
• A current curriculum vitae (CV)
• An unofficial copy of your academic transcripts (if available)