PhD in Petroleum Geochemistry and Lipidomics

PhD candidate (m/f)

In 2019 Saint Mary's University in collaboration with the University of Calgary, the Nova Scotia Department of Energy, the Offshore Energy Research Association of Nova Scotia (OERA), and the University of Bremen in Germany will begin a second phase of research designed to develop and utilize bioassays of aerobic, anaerobic, and thermophilic hydrocarbon oxidizing bacteria as novel indirect hydrocarbon indicators for de-risking offshore petroleum exploration.

As a part of this, the Canadian Research Chair in Petroleum Geochemistry and Reservoir Characterization in the Department of Geology at Saint Mary's University is advertising for a PhD student (entry August 1st, 2019). We are seeking a highly motivated candidate who has an MSc in organic geochemistry (or related field), preferably with experience in analyzing intact/non-intact polar lipids (IPLs and PLs). The candidate will utilize samples deemed interesting because they contain genomic evidence of bacterial anaerobic oxidation of hydrocarbons and/or have detected seep oil within the sediments. The PhD candidate will conduct lipidomics studies of samples collected from surface and piston core sediments off the Scotian Shelf and Slope during cruises spanning from past 2015 to 2018 coring cruises as well as participate on coring cruises slated for 2019 and 2020.

Research tasks:

  • Participate in upcoming cruise(s) to collect and log piston cores.
  • Collect relevant sediment samples from the core library at Bedford Institute of Oceanography, the Canada Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board core library, and the University of Calgary.
  • Formalize wet chemistry procedures for the extraction and separation of bacterial and archaeal IPLs and PLs with authentic standards and matrix-matched reference materials.
  • Identify and quantify the various IPLs and PLs within collected sediment samples.
  • Relate these data to existing, geochemical, genomic assay and petroleum hydrocarbon data.
  • Assess whether distributions of IPLs and PLs provides evidence for the presence of seep oils and biodegraded petroleum products.

Applicants are required to have, or be about to obtain, a Master degree, or equivalent, in geological science, chemistry, environmental science, or related field areas. Candidates with the following qualifications are encouraged to apply:

  • Strong academic background;
  • Passionate research interest and a background in organic geochemistry or chemistry;
  • Proficient scientific writing skills and high motivation to produce publishable results;
  • Very good command of spoken and written English, i.e. TOEFL IBT (overall score of 88 or better, minimum score of 20 in each of the four components: listening, speaking, writing, reading) or TOEFL PBT (paper based test, minimum score of 570, minimum essay score of 5).

This degree offers:

  • A cutting-edge research project using state-of-the-art, modern analytical equipment;
  • A training program tailored to the needs of the student;
  • The ability to present research findings at national and international conferences;
  • A friendly and multi-disciplinary environment;
  • Attractive salary in accordance with Canadian University standards;
  • Excellent future career opportunities.

Expression of interest including CV, academic transcript and the names of three references should be sent to Prof. G. Todd Ventura (

Closing date: 30 April, 2019

Starting date: 1st August, 2019

Application review will begin mid-April, 2019 and continue until the position is filled. Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia offers a PhD in Applied Science. The successful candidate will join our growing SMU Organic Geochemistry Laboratory (SMU OGL) research group, which currently includes 1 Postdoc, 1 PhD student, 3 MSc students, and an intern. This position includes costs of tuition and a living stipend.

For informal enquiries and further information about this research project and the academic setting of SMU contact Dr. Todd Ventura, email:

For more information concerning the OGL research group please see:

For further details about studying at Saint Mary's University see: and

posted: 24 February 2019     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.