PhD Fellowship in Arctic Plant Systematics

We are seeking a highly motivated PhD student to conduct research in the field of plant systematics, with an Arctic geographical focus. 

The candidate will be enrolled at the University of Ottawa in the joint graduate program in biology (Ottawa Carleton Institute for Biology). 

Research will be conducted at the Canadian Museum of Nature’s Natural Heritage Campus (1740 Pink Road, Gatineau, Quebec) in the National Capital Region. The successful candidate will have access to the Museum’s excellent facilities designed to support projects in taxonomy, systematics, evolution and ecology, including the world’s most comprehensive collection of Canadian Arctic plants in the National Herbarium of Canada.

Research Project Description

The successful candidate will develop a project focused on a circumpolar and/or Arctic-alpine vascular plant species complex (or multiple congeneric species complexes) in which species boundaries are poorly understood, with an aim to make progress in resolving the evolutionary history of the complex from multiple perspectives (e.g., phylogenetic, phylogeographic, taxonomic). Examples of complicated Arctic genera in particular need of further study include but are not limited to Draba (Brassicaceae), Taraxacum (Asteraceae), Potentilla (Rosaceae), Papaver (Papaveraceae), and Calamagrostis (Poaceae). 

The project will be multi-faceted and will combine herbarium-based study of morphological variation in the National Herbarium of Canada, molecular study in the museum’s Laboratory of Molecular Biodiversity, and field work in the Arctic and possibly other ecozones. It may also be necessary to visit other museums and herbaria in Canada and abroad to study type and other material. 


  • An ideal candidate will have previous training and experience in botany or plant biology and a strong interest in plant biodiversity, evolution, phylogeny and taxonomy. 
  • The candidate must meet the University of Ottawa’s eligibility criteria, as described on this web page
  • The fellowship is available to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
  • Funding
  • The position is fully funded by the Canadian Museum of Nature’s Scientific Training Program for three years ($25,000/year), plus $5,000/year in funds to support research costs. 

Deadlines:  The University of Ottawa application deadline for Canadian students to begin the doctorate program in Fall 2018, is 1 June 2018. See the link for a full description of specific requirements :

Interested students should contact Drs. Lynn Gillespie ( and Jeff Saarela ( by email ASAP (before 15 May 2018) to discuss this opportunity, prior to submitting an application to the University. In your initial message, please include a description of your research interests and motivation, your CV and contact information for two references.

Dr. Lynn Gillespie, Research Scientist, Canadian Museum of Nature, and Adjunct Professor, University of Ottawa

Dr. Jeff Saarela, Research Scientist and Director, Centre for Arctic Knowledge and Exploration, Canadian Museum of Nature

21 March 2018