Graduate Student Position Available

M.Sc. Position in Toxicology of Lobster Behaviour


Interested in aquatic animal behaviour or applied research in toxicology or estuarine restoration?  Interested in building expertise in a range of techniques, including field work with SCUBA, semi-automated video analysis of behavioural experiments, and contaminant tissue analyses?

Dr. Russell Wyeth and Dr. Jim Williams in Biology at St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) are accepting applications for an MSc student position to start Jan 1, 2018.  This position is fully funded ($18,000 x 2 years), and tuition support is also possible.

Our research is focused on understanding how lobster behaviour is affected by industrial pollution and to what degree lobster behaviour returns to normal following remediation work to remove pollutants from the environment.

Context: Boat Harbour, Nova Scotia, located in Pictou Co. Nova Scotia, has been receiving effluent from pulp and paper mills as well as Canso Chemicals Chlor Alkali Plant over 50 years.  Boat Harbour has also been impacted by other air borne industrial emissions.  As part of an agreement with Pictou Landing First Nation, the provincial government has committed to close the effluent inflow into Boat Harbour.  The remediation project for this contaminated environment is underway, with the eventual goal of re-opening Boat Harbour as tidal waters with a restored estuarine ecosystem.  Lobster are common in the area and an important fisheries resource that may be affected by contaminants in the Boat Harbour sediment.  It is important to establish whether or not the contaminants accumulate in lobster and whether they affect their behaviour.

Project: Using both trapped adults and juveniles caught by SCUBA, the MSc candidate will use laboratory experiments to explore uptake of contaminants from Boat Harbour sediment and its effects on key behaviours.  Contaminant analysis will be completed in collaboration with researchers at Dalhousie University and Cape Breton University.  Behavioural analyses will test effects of contaminants on predator escape responses, feeding activities, and shelter construction behaviours.

Applicants with prior experience with SCUBA, toxicology, or behavioural research are encouraged to apply, but these skills are not prerequisites for the position.

For further information or to apply, contact Dr. Russell Wyeth ( or Dr. Jim Williams (

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