PhD Position - Varroa mite chemical ecology

Acadia University and Dalhousie University
Wolfville, Nova Scotia

We are currently seeking a motivated graduate student to investigate physiological and behavioural effects of a range of volatile compounds on Varroa destructor mites, a key pest of honey bees.  In commercial operations, Varroa mites are typically controlled through application of chemical miticides, but this contaminates in-hive products and moreover has led to development of resistance. Thus, alternative methods of mite control are highly desirable.

The candidate will test key odorants for their ability to attract or repel V. destructor at different life history stages and for electrophysiological sensitivity of mites and honey bees to odorants.  Indirect effects of such putative attractants or repellents on honey bee behaviour and in-hive activities will also be quantified.  Overall, the goal will be to develop tools to augment management of mites using non-toxic olfactory stimuli to attract and trap, or reduce infestations of, V. destructor.

Research will be conducted in collaboration between the Shutler and Hillier labs at Acadia University (Wolfville, NS), and the Cutler lab at Dalhousie University (Truro, NS).  Options may exist for conducting portions of research at both venues.

Qualifications: Successful candidates should be highly motivated, and have a keen interest in chemical ecology, entomology, and integrated pest management.  Must be able to work well independently and with a team, and have a good suite of communication and interpersonal skills.  Applicants must hold a MSc in biology or a related discipline and meet PhD admission requirements through Dalhousie University.  Experience in entomology, chemistry, or neuroscience an asset but not required.

Applications will be accepted until January 15, 2016.

Start date and funding support: Start date will be May 2015.  Funding is available for 3 years and includes money to cover research costs and a stipend that may be supplemented with scholarships.  Students are encouraged to apply for additional funding.

Dr. N. Kirk Hillier
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