Trace element cycling and removal in treatment wetlands

Grad Student Position Details

Project Title
Trace element cycling and removal in treatment wetlands

Degree Program

Dr. William Shotyk

Professorial Rank

Renewable Resources

Project Start Date

Project Description:

The SWAMP lab team is seeking highly motivated students with excellent communication skills to undertake research related to the properties, mobility and removal of trace elements in a constructed wetland treatment system. This research will occur in the context of an engineered landscape in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region that is designed to treat waste streams for return to natural waters.

The ideal candidates will have undergraduate training and graduate-level research experience in land reclamation with a sound understanding of environmental geochemistry and colloidal systems, as well as field experience. A strong background in analytical chemistry and experience with trace element analysis are assets.

The SWAMP (Soil, Water, Air, Manure, and Plants) lab facility is a world class, metal-free analytical facility in the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta, which is purpose-built to routinely conduct measurements at trace and ultra-trace concentration levels ( The SWAMP lab also performs the routine size-based separation of dissolved trace elements into distinct colloidal species using asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation (AF4), with online multi-element characterization using an iCAP-Qc quadrupole ICP-MS. A G-SPLITT fractionation system with optical size detector is available to isolate and characterize the size distribution of particles > 2 𝜇m. Ultracentrifugation is available for coarse separations and purification, and sequential extraction is routinely performed to assess the reactivity of trace elements on particle surfaces. Access to SEM and TEM imaging with EDS/X to characterize elemental composition at the micro/nanoscale is also available. Other key laboratory equipment includes a high-pressure microwave for digesting solid samples, and a sub-boiling acid still. Benefits of undertaking PhD research in the SWAMP lab include supervision and training by experts in the areas of ultraclean sampling and analysis, geochemistry, micro- and nanoscale size characterization, and AF4-ICP-MS.

To apply for one or more of these positions, please send a statement of interest, CV, transcripts, IELTS scores and the names of two references to Ms. Tracy Gartner (

Treatment wetland; Tailings; Trace elements; Geochemistry; Colloids; Oil sands; Waste water

Contact Email

Other Contact Information


Stipend Amount/year
$ 24,000.00