Training Structure

As their central international mobility experience, we will require all MSc students to work together on IMAE courses for 6 months in Portugal (Coimbra Université) followed by an intensive 1-month field-training program in Ecuador or Brazil (Universidad San Francisco de Quito), followed by an additional 5 months of classroom & field work in Germany (Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu Kiel). Upon their return to Canada from Portugal, MSc students will be required to take a 1-credit indigenous studies field course (“Knowledge exchange in indigenous resource management”), a 2-credit field course (“Field studies of soils”), 3-credit experiential chemistry course (“Fertilizer speciation and transformations in soils”), plus a 3-credit communication course (“Experimental design and technical communication”). During this time, students will begin their research, which they will complete over the next two years. They will also attend the annual Scaling Science to Solutions workshops each of these two years. As a result of this international and experiential coursework, we anticipate that MSc programs will take one year longer than typical, i.e., 3 years. However, students will graduate with an enhanced level of employability in the private sector.

International mobility will be facilitated by the proposed UofS Cotutelle Program, which will allow joint supervision between two universities. A Cotutelle program is a type of dual degree program, where a doctoral student is jointly supervised by two supervisors, each from a different university, and, the student alternates time between the two universities. The student writes one thesis, under the supervision of an advisory committee comprised of members from both universities, and, if successful, the student receives two degrees, each recognized by both universities. However, while the dual degree program is an agreement between two programs at two institutions, a Cotutelle program is an agreement tailored to an individual student studying at two institutions.

PhD students have the option to complete the first year of the IMAE program for their international mobility experience. Students who already have an IMAE degree, and those who opt out of attending IMAE, may choose to experience other off-campus opportunities, either internationally (Canadian students) or within Canada (international students).

Beginning in Year 2, PhD students will complete their first of two 4-month internships with our industrial partners to become familiar with environmental management challenges in the industrial sector. Following this, students continue their thesis research over the next two years, annually attending the Scaling Science to Solutions workshops. In the final year of the program, students will present their results at RemTech (a western Canadian remediation technologies conference), as well as participate in a final 4-month internship. This last year will provide SAFER PhD students with exceptional opportunities to secure employment upon graduation.

The SAFER Program consists of five pillars:

i) Core courses: 

MSc: All MSc students will take IMAE courses for 6 months in Portugal (Coimbra Université) followed by an intensive 1-month field-training program in Ecuador or Brazil, followed by an additional 5 months of classroom & field work in Germany (Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu Kiel). Upon their return to Canada from Portugal, MSc students will be required to take a 1-credit indigenous studies field course (“Knowledge exchange in indigenous resource management”), a 2-credit field course (“Field studies of soils”), 3-credit experiential chemistry course (“Fertilizer speciation and transformations in soils”), plus a 3-credit communication course (“Experimental design and technical communication”). They will also attend the annual Scaling Science to Solutions workshops each of these two years. 

PhD: PhD students have the option to complete the first year of the IMAE program. Students who already have an IMAE degree, and those who opt out of attending IMAE, may choose to experience other off-campus opportunities, either internationally or within Canada. International mobility will be facilitated by the proposed UofS Cotutelle Program, which will allow joint supervision between two universities. Lab exchanges will be organized between Canada and international sites. During this first year, PhD students will also take core SAFER courses. In Year 2, PhD students will complete their first of two 4-month internships with industrial partners. Following this, students continue their thesis research over the next two years, annually attending the Scaling Science to Solutions workshops. In the final year of the program, students will present their results at RemTech, and complete their final 4-month internship.

NSERC CREATE SAFER core courses
Course Title Description
Knowledge exchange in indigenous resource management (1 credit unit) An experiential field course that examines basic environmental, legal, and economic aspects of land and resource management in indigenous communities. This course, led by Dr. Arcand, is part of the Kanawayihetaytan Askiy (KA) or “Let us take care of the land” in Plains Cree program in which Indigenous resource managers receive advanced training in land management.  CREATE SAFER students will work with KA students as well as Indigenous land managers to explore factors affecting productivity and land values in an indigenous context.  It is open to non-resident SAFER students.
Field studies of soils (2 credit units) Provides training in the classification and interpretation of the major soils of the agricultural zones of western Canada. Involves extensive fieldwork, lectures, and seminars. Dr. Bedard-Haughn will lead this course at sites across Saskatchewan. Students will learn soil classification and recognition of major landforms and parent material associated with prairie and boreal forest soils. It is open to non-resident SAFER students.
Fertilizer speciation and transformations in soils (3 credit units) A hands-on graduate-level course in the use of x-ray fluorescence and absorption spectroscopic techniques to study soil chemical processes. Led by Dr. Peak, students will design a synchrotron-based fertilizer speciation experiment for the Canadian Light Source, analyze their results, and present their findings. It is open to non-resident SAFER students.
Experimental design, analysis, and technical communication (3 credit units) This course is broken into three short-format sections: 1) Experimental design: covers practical aspects of research design commonly used in soil science. Upon completion, students will be able to evaluate various research and sampling designs and justify their choice of sampling designs and statistical approaches. 2) Multivariate statisticsprovides training in multivariate approaches used in microbial and soil science experiments. Topics include metric and non-metric ordination analysis, techniques used to assess environmental gradients or treatment effects, and non-ordination approaches. Upon completion, students will be able to perform and interpret a range of multivariate analyses using R. 3) Effective communication: covers principles of using story structure in science writing to make objective conclusions that are meaningful, clear, and compelling. Discussing research limitations, writing for the public / stakeholders, and how to prepare assessment and remediation reports will also be addressed. We may coordinate short-format courses via the U of S’s WestGrid Collaboration and Visualization Facility so that students outside Saskatoon can join via webinar. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

ii) Off-campus opportunities:

MSc students will spend Year 1 of their program abroad, immersed in the IMAE core curriculum and field school. PhD students will choose one program enrichment activity: IMAE or lab rotation. 

iii) "Scaling Science to Solutions" annual workshop:

Each year during the Canadian Society of Soil Science (CSSS) annual meeting, a 1-day workshop is hosted wherein all SAFER members will meet. Students will present research and receive feedback from both scholars and industrial practitioners. Practitioners and supervisors present two real world case studies to inspire problem-solving group discussions related to fertilizer contamination and remediation. Following the presentations, practitioner-led groups of participants will brainstorm: 1) the challenges presented in the case study, 2) solutions or best practices to address the challenges, and 3) real-world examples of those solutions in practice and the resources available to recreate that success. Student responses will be collected, organized, and shared with participants at the end of each case study to serve as the foundation for discussion on strategic planning and solution implementation. 

iv) Internships and professional development:

MSc students are encouraged to spend two weeks with an employer in Year 2 of their program, dependent on class schedules and travel requirements. Near the end of an MSc student’s program, a 4-month internship with an employer will give students experience in applying their skills in the real world. PhD students will also have the option to spend two weeks with the employer early in their program (Year 1 or 2, dependent on IMAE participation) and complete either two, 4-month internships, or one 8-month internship (Year 3 and/or 4). Employers will supplement student pay during the internship, and students are encouraged to apply for the EcoCanada Environmental Youth Corps (EYC) program, which will provide up to 50% of an intern’s salary.

v) Interdisciplinary research:

All SAFER students will undertake interdisciplinary research either as an experiential learning module at one of the high-throughput fertilizer terminals currently under construction in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, or more formally as part of their thesis research. 

Timeline elements

MSc students will be encouraged to spend two weeks with an employer in Year 2 of their program, dependent on class schedules and travel requirements. Near the end of an MSc student’s program, a 4-month internship with an employer will give students experience in applying their skills in the real world.

PhD students will also have the option to spend two weeks with the employer early in their program (Year 1 or 2, dependent on IMAE participation) and complete either two, 4-month internships, or one 8-month internship (Year 3 and/or 4).

Sustainable In-Situ Remediation Allianca (SIRCA) members, FCL, AMEC/FW, and CHS Inc. have all agreed to host internships if this proposal is funded. Employers will supplement student pay during the internship, and students will be encouraged to apply for the EcoCanada Environmental Youth Corps (EYC) program, which will provide up to 50% of an intern’s salary. In combination with our IMAE opportunities, our MScs will spend 16.5, and PhDs 20.5 months in experiential education environments.  

To help coordinate and canvass the internship opportunities, we have partnered with the International Minerals Innovation Institute (IMII), an industry-government-post-secondary partnership, co-located at the University of Saskatchewan. IMII has extensive experience managing internships across western Canada and is closely partnered with the national, non-profit organization Mitacs, insuring that internships are meaningful for interns and companies alike.