Interested in research examining how permafrost and hydrologic changes influence the biogeochemistry of nutrients, carbon and mercury in High Arctic watersheds? Dr. Lafrenière’s lab at Queen’s University offers great collaborations and unique facilities for you to make your contribution!

  1. Terrain Specific modeling of runoff and water quality in the Niaqunguk watershed Iqaluit.  Looking for a student who is keen to engage in community partners, local knowledge holders, and academic partners to establish a terrain specific network of hydrometric stations, in the Niaqunguk watershed. The research also will involve water sampling to develop a high-resolution water chemistry data set that can be applied to develop empirical models of the how runoff and water quality responses vary across the dominant landscape types in the watershed. This project could be for an MSc or PhD, with a September 2022 start. The ideal candidate would be available to conduct preliminary field work over the summer of 2022. This research is funded by POLAR Knowledge Canada and NSERC.

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The Niaqunguk river in Iqaluit. Photos M. Lafreniere.

  1. Size and abundance of permafrost derived organic carbon (POC and DOC) as controls on mercury in High Arctic surface waters.  Seeking a student who is motivated to integrate hydrological and water quality field work at sites across the Canadian High Arctic with laboratory experiments and techniques to investigate how the abundance and forms of mercury in surface waters are regulated by size dependant abundance of permafrost derived organic matter. This exciting project involves collaborations with researchers at Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and is ideally suited for a PhD student aiming to start September 2022. There is also the opportunity for summer 2022 field work. This project is funded by ECCC, ArcticNet and NSERC.

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Contrasting sediment loads in surface waters affected by permafrost disturbances. Photos M. Lafreniere.

  1. Integrating Aquatic and Terrestrial process studies of N budgets in High Arctic wetland catchments.  This research seeks to quantify the total watershed N budgets in High Arctic wetland hillslope catchments, and to identify dominant processes controlling N inputs and losses in these watersheds. This research would combine field monitoring of terrestrial and hillslope catchment nitrogen budgets, with both field and laboratory-based investigations of N cycling processes. Research is supported by funding from NSERC, and facilities at the Cape Bounty Arctic Watershed Observatory on Melville, Island. Ideally suited for a PhD student starting September 2022. Co-Supervision with Dr. Neal Scott.

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Various instrumented wet sedge catchments at the Cape Bounty Arctic Watershed Observatory. Photos M. Lafreniere.

Dr. Lafrenière’s research program and facilities are particularly well suited for students seeking a highly collaborative research experience, combined with field and laboratory-based research. Interested students should have a background in environmental earth science or physical geography, strong quantitative skills, and an aptitude for field and biogeochemical research.  Graduates of our program obtain a broad range of research skills (including analytical, practical, and project management) that are highly valued by employers in the private and public sectors.

Candidates interested in these projects or other related research topics are encouraged to contact Dr. Melissa Lafrenière at, for more detailed information. For information about the facilities, and research group see Dr. Lafrenière’s web page  For information on the department, and application procedures please see the Department of Geography and Planning’s web site  and the School of Graduate Studies web sites.

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