New Collaborative Project on Legacies of Agricultural Pollutants (LEAP):
Three PhD students and one postdoc at the University of Waterloo

Human activities have greatly accelerated the nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) cycles, with excess N and P leaching into surface and groundwaters, causing problems of eutrophication, aquatic toxicity and drinking water contamination. To counter these effects, agricultural best management practices (BMPs) have been widely implemented to minimize impacts on water quality, but such practices have often achieved limited success, with significant lag times between the implementation of BMPs and measurable improvements in water quality. Recent research indicates that these time lags may arise due to legacy stores of nutrients that have accumulated in rural landscapes over decades of fertilizer application and agricultural intensification. The goal of the LEAP project is to develop a unified framework that incorporates agricultural legacies and time lags into adaptive management strategies to protect water resources under changing climate and land use.

LEAP project researchers will be key members of an international EU-Canada team working to:

  • Identify key controls on the accumulation and mobilization of agricultural N and P legacies, and predict time lags between implementation of BMPs and water quality improvements, as a function of climate, land cover, land use, and land management;
  • Assess the outcomes of alternative management strategies by performing cost-benefit analyses within a hydro-economic modelling framework that explicitly represents nutrient legacies;
  • Develop a Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) framework to evaluate uncertainties in both biophysical and hydroeconomic modelling of nutrient legacies, and their implications for nutrient risk management;
  • Create an agroecosystem typology based on the individual EU and Canadian exemplar sites that links the biophysical and socioeconomic drivers of non-point source pollution to water quality impacts;
  • Inform adaptive agro-environmental water management practices that target mitigation of water quality impacts of N and P legacies by assessing trade-offs between short and long-term costs, benefits and risks.

The PhD students and postdoc at the University of Waterloo will focus primarily on the Great Lakes watersheds, and work with PhD students and postdocs in Sweden (Stockholm University), Denmark (University of Copenhagen) and Portugal (University of Coimbra) who will explore similar questions in their countries. The collaborative work environment at the University of Waterloo will be mentored by:

  • Dr. Philippe Van Cappellen Canada Excellence Research Chair, Ecohydrology; Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Dr. Nandita Basu Assistant Professor, Water Sustainability and Ecohydrology; Civil and Environmental Engineering/Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Dr. Roy Brouwer Executive Director, Water Institute; Professor, Economics
  • Dr. Kimberly Van Meter Postdoctoral Fellow, Earth and Environmental Sciences

For further information regarding these positions or to submit an application, please contact Tatjana. Applicants must have a specialization in biogeochemistry, hydrology, earth sciences, environmental engineering, economics or a related field.

In your application email, please include:

  • Your motivation for the position and research interests
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Copy of transcript(s)
  • Contact information for 3 references


Tatjana Milojevic
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Waterloo

Closing date: Applications will be reviewed as they are received. The positions will remain open until filled.

We thank all applicants for their interest; however, only those individuals selected for an interview will be contacted.

The University of Waterloo encourages applications from all qualified individuals, members of visible minorities, native peoples, and people with disabilities.


published: 24 January 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.