Author Archives: smurphcare

SERS is hiring a Lecturer – field ecology skills a must

The ad is here!

LECTURER POSITION – School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability

University of Waterloo. School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability (SERS: invites applications for a three-year definite-term appointment as Lecturer, with the possibility of renewal. Applicants must be able to teach undergraduate courses in the School’s core areas of resource and environmental sustainability. These include field ecology, resource management, and environmental policy, politics and governance.  Lecturer duties are primarily in teaching and service, and are assigned in all three terms, though lecturers shall have the option to have at least one term in six be a non-teaching term. The successful candidate will be expected to teach up to six courses annually.

The School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability has been devoted to the pursuit of sustainability in a complex world since 1971. We use transdisciplinary approaches in our teaching and research to help protect, restore, reform and transform social and ecological systems. In practical terms, this means:

  • We use diverse perspectives to address important ecological and social sustainability problems and take advantage of opportunities for lasting gains.
  • We work within, between and across disciplines and ways of knowing. The knowledge we draw on comes from many sources, perspectives, fields and disciplines rather than just one.
  • We work closely with individuals, communities and organizations affected by or responsible for these issues to make sure our work is relevant and effective.

In addition to an undergraduate program that admits 80-100 students annually, the School offers both a Master’s degree program and a doctoral degree program with a combined admission of about 24 students annually.

The candidate should expect to teach some intensive block courses during Spring terms (May – August); these are field ecology skills and research-based courses focused on ecological monitoring, conservation and restoration ecology techniques and concepts.

The candidate may also be asked to teach large, didactic courses and an online course in environmental sustainability.

SERS is part of the Faculty of Environment (, which also includes the Department of Geography and Environmental Management; School of Planning; School of Environment, Enterprise, and Development; and the Department of Knowledge Integration. Strong interrelationships exist among the Faculty’s five units. The Faculty is distinguished by interdisciplinarity in its commitment to undergraduate and graduate education, advanced research activity and community outreach. SERS leads the Centre for Ecosystem Resilience and Adaptation and Centre for Applied Sciences in Ontario Protected Areas. SERS is also linked with the Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change, the Centre for Complexity and Innovation, the Water Institute, the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Canadian Water Network.

Kitchener-Waterloo, population 320,000, is a diverse community surrounded by picturesque farmland. The region has a vibrant local food scene, a thriving tech community, family-friendly amenities, an extensive network of bike trails, and a nearly completed light rail train that will connect Kitchener and Waterloo by 2018.

Applicants should have a Ph.D. or equivalent, as well as a clear commitment to, and demonstrated track record of, very high quality teaching. The successful candidate may participate in the supervision of undergraduate and graduate students.  While this is predominantly a teaching position, applicants would be expected to have a research background relevant to the transdisciplinary, social-ecological focus of the School.

Applicants should submit a letter of application stating career objectives with an emphasis on approach to learning and teaching, and related research goals. Accompanying that letter, applicants must include a current curriculum vitae, and the names and contact information of four people who may be contacted for references.

The closing date for applications is April 30, 2017. The application should be sent to Mrs. Jennifer Nicholson, Administrative Manager, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, University of Waterloo, via e-mail

Salary range is $70,000 – $85,000; actual salary will be dependent upon qualifications and experience. The appointment will be effective September 1, 2017.

The University of Waterloo respects, appreciates and encourages diversity. We welcome applications from all qualified individuals including women, members of visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities and diverse political perspectives. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority. See also ­Three reasons to apply:

Update on new course on ReWilding and Ecological Restoration (ERS 375-001)

In winter 2017, I am launching a new course on ReWilding & Ecological Restoration.

The UPDATED syllabus is attached:  ers-375-001-syllabus-jan-3Note that this is even more current that what is on the SERS website (I made some changes after we closed for xmas; I’ll ask Patti to post the new version as soon as possible after we open again on Jan 3)

Like the syllabus draft says:

“ReWilding is the macro-scale approach to conserving and restoring the socioecological resilience of ecosystems.   It can be spatially explicit and quite dependent on large scale modelling and landscape ecology but it can also take a more integrative approach that is more geared towards ecological planning, management, and monitoring of the whole socioecological system. Core to the mission of the School of Environment, Resources & Sustainability, this course will explore the full range of facets that ReWilding involves.  Specifically, the course will focus on restoration and conservation at landscape scale, including an emphasis on connectivity, reintroduction of keystone species, novel ecosystems, re-introduction of apex predators, herbivores, and omnivores.  Because ReWilding can be infused with various political agenda and ideologies, technocratic issues, policy ambitions, and governance issues, students can expect to experience a course focused on ecology and technical skills but contextualized and connected to the larger concepts of socioecological change and resilience.  There will be at least one applied project that partners with a multi-sectoral group focused on ReWilding the Lake Simcoe ecosystem; in this manner, students will have an experiential application of the principles in the course.”

Looking to enrol in winter 2017? The first offering has the usual experimental number – ERS 375.  My section is 001; class number 5089.  The permission number can be obtained through Patti Bester – again, once we open for business Jan 3 (bear in mind Patti will have a zillion emails so be patient – you can show up for class Jan 4, regardless). Class is Monday and Wednesday 1300-1420 in EV1 350.

For those interested in future offerings: Pending final approval, the permanent number will be ERS 337 as of winter 2018.  For example, I’ll make make a few more changes – Jim Harris of Cranfield U and SER fame made some great additional suggestions for assigned readings that will be added for 2018.

We went to ESA 2016. Boy, did we ever

I’ll post the scientific stuff soon enough.  Below are some pics of the crew and friends. We know how to do conferences right. Patricia Huynh, Heather Cray, and Michael McTavish rocked the conference.  The usual suspects included Richard Hobbs, Eric Higgs, Bryan Norton, Steve Jackson, Allen Thompson, Edie Allen, George Gann, Brandon Bestelmeyer below – not too shabby a group.  It was great to hang out with Lars Brudvig and lab.  And catching up with Carolina Murcia was a real bonus on the last day of the conference.

smurphcare students busy as bees…literally

The wacky 2016 weather meant a slow start but then a sudden plunge into field season – the phenology is running 2-3 weeks ahead.  We’ll need to catch up with posting in the fall.  For now, here’s some shots of what Tomm Mandryk (using burn boxes to simulate prescribed burns for restoration), Heather Cray (assessing prairie restoration), Michael McTavish (earthworm impacts), Patricia Huynh (urban impacts on conservation and restoration), Jonas Hamberg (assessing success of ecological restoration) and others have been up to:

2016-04-30 04.11.24

2016-07-26 13.31.50





2015-2016: Undergraduate Research Projects/Theses


This was taken December 2015 at our xmas celebration.  These are actually CaRE undergraduate students, co-op student alumni, & special guest star.

Heather Short, Julie Galloway (c0-advised by Brad Fedy), Brian Studer, Jessica Williamson (alum), Timmy Nassar (alum), Nick Allen (special guest star), Jacob Orlandi (alum & has an IMDB credit – as a baby!), Melody Fraser, Kathryn Russell, Karissa Finlayson, Cameron Curran

Absent: Rachel Hodgson, Ben North, Cooper Sheridan, Jon Jorna


Heather worked on a wetland characterization and ecological restoration plan with the City of Kitchener using the Novel Ecosystems framework



Jon worked on assessing success of ecological restoration in Pioneer Tower Natural Area

Monarda fistulosa 3


Brian examined effectiveness at necessity of control of mosquitoes in Waterloo Region



Karissa monitored the ecological integrity and potential need for ecological restoration in urban woodlands



Rachel worked on how populations of amphibians respond to urbanization



Melody worked with me and Jonathan Price on management and restoration potential for peat bogs that have been harvested for commercial use



Cameron worked on best practices for ecological restoration of quarries



Kathryn worked with the Long Point Biosphere Reserve on how effective policies for protection have been and how these have changed in the last 30+ years


Leigh-Anne Bower (formerly of LPBB – now with a CA) & Brian Craig


Ben examined best practices for conservation management of large mammals

One of the challenges for conservation managers is to determine how large mammals like bears will respond to habitat fragmentation, human caused climate change, and other factors.  Ben is seeking to determine strategic approaches to tackling this problem.

valemount bc13


Cooper’s research was focused on whether tree planting (mass commercial, nursery-style reclamation) has net carbon benefits or deficits.

While tree planting (nursery-style) is not restoration ecology, it can offer some reclamation benefits to land that would otherwise be degraded.  While there may be better approaches, the mass tree-planting strategy is not likely to end anytime soon.  One interesting question is whether a life cycle analysis will reveal that the energy inputs needs to replant are lower, about equal, or greater than biomass that is the output and how this might affect the carbon source-sink relations, at least at a regional scale.  We do know that forest differ in their carbon relations depending on the species composition, successional stage, overall ‘health’, and local environmental context and conditions.  Cooper aims to examine the tree planting industry as a whole.


 This is a local reforested (mass cathedral planting) site
St. Williams Ontario – now undergoing a more ambitious ecological restoration