Position profile: Wetland Scientist

Learn more about the position in the job posting.

  • Job Title: Wetland Scientist
  • Work Unit: Environmental Monitoring and Science Division, Science Branch
  • Ministry: Alberta Environment and Parks
  • Competition Number: 1053449

Purpose

The Wetland Scientist leads the development and implementation of wetland monitoring in Alberta that contributes to the Oil Sands Monitoring vision of “an integrated monitoring, evaluation and reporting system inclusive of and responsive to Indigenous Communities, that includes the acquisition and reporting of regional and sub-regional data on baseline environmental conditions, tracking any environmental impacts, and the assessment of cumulative environmental effects from oil sands development to inform management, policy and regulatory action and respects potential impacts to section 35 Rights”.

The Wetland Scientist also supports the mandate of the Environmental Monitoring and Science Division "to develop and implement an environmental science program to monitor, evaluate, and report on the condition of Alberta's ambient environment" (Section.15.1(1) Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, 2016).

The Wetland Scientist is responsible for all 5 phases of wetland monitoring including:

  • Design: Support the development and continuous improvement of wetland monitoring programs (20%)
  • Plan: Lead the completion of multi-year monitoring plans with clear deliverables, timelines and budgets (20%)
  • Deliver: Lead the delivery of approved monitoring plans in a safe and effective manner, including the collection of new wetland data using field-based monitoring protocols and the acquisition of geospatial data such as LiDAR and satellite imagery (30%)
  • Evaluate and Report: Lead the analysis of monitoring data and report findings in publications for scientific and public audiences as per approved monitoring plans (30%)

The position is expected to collaborate with multi-disciplinary environmental monitoring teams to ensure wetland monitoring is integrated and aligned with other environmental monitoring programs across Oil Sands Monitoring and the Environmental Monitoring and Science Division.

Responsibilities and Activities

The responsibilities of the Wetland Scientist include all 5 phases of environmental monitoring delivered by the Environmental Monitoring and Science Division: Design, Plan, Deliver, Evaluate, and Report. These responsibilities include:

Design (20%) The Wetland Scientist supports the development and continuous improvement of wetland monitoring programs that address major issues of concern to Oil Sands Monitoring and the Government of Alberta. The end result is an internationally recognized wetland science program. Responsibilities include:

  • Conduct literature reviews to identify wetland monitoring and research priorities that support the vision of Oil Sands Monitoring, and complement other activities within and outside the Division;
  • Develop evidence-based conceptual models that summarize the known and hypothesized responses of wetland ecosystems to environmental variation and anthropogenic stressors including hydrologic alteration, atmospheric deposition, land use and landcover changes, contaminants, invasive species, and human use;
  • Contribute to the integration between Divisional wetland science programs and other environmental monitoring programs in the Division and elsewhere in the Department;
  • Assist in addressing recommendations of the Indigenous Wisdom Advisory Panel and Science Advisory Panel;
  • Identify innovative methods to observe and measure the condition of wetlands by staying up to date with the latest science and frequent interaction with scientists from other disciplines.

Plan (20%) The Wetland Scientist leads the completion of multi-year monitoring plans to assess the ecological impacts of physical, chemical, and hydrological disturbance from oil sands development and other land uses relative to ecological drivers such as climate change. The end results are approved monitoring plans with clear deliverables, timelines and budgets. Responsibilities include:

  • Complete annual monitoring plans that articulate outcomes, activities, schedules and resource requirements;
  • Communicate regularly with Scientists and other staff in the Division and elsewhere to establish high-functioning teams.
  • Implement project management systems that are credible, efficient, and resilient to surprises;
  • Complete required reporting of milestones, deliverables, and expenses.

Deliver (30%) The Wetland Scientist leads the delivery of approved wetland monitoring programs. The end result is safe and timely completion of approved milestones and deliverables within the available budget. Responsibilities include:

  • Ensure the Division’s wetland monitoring programs are delivered in a safe, efficient and scientifically rigorous manner;
  • Lead the delivery of approved monitoring plans including the collection of new data using field-based monitoring protocols, and the acquisition and processing of geospatial data such as LiDAR and satellite imagery; key parameters are abiotic (meteorological, hydrological, chemical, physical) and biotic (, plankton, periphyton, aquatic macroinvertebrates, vegetation, wildlife) variables in various wetland types.
  • Coordinate data collection with staff across the Division, as appropriate, to complete required activities and outcomes;
  • Coordinate the involvement of Indigenous community members and external scientists;
  • Manage grants and contracts with delivery partners and vendors.

Evaluate and Report (30%) The Wetland Scientist leads the completion of scientifically rigorous publications that meet monitoring plan commitments, including papers in international journals such as Global Change Biology, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, Wetlands, Landscape Ecology, Environmental Science and Technology. Responsibilities include:

  • Collaborate with internal and external scientists to evaluate wetland data, ensuring scientific credibility in the context of leading programs and interpretations employed elsewhere in Canada and internationally;
  • Lead the completion of reporting products that communicate major observations and conclusions based on monitoring wetland condition and potential response to human activity, including but not limited to peer-reviewed scientific papers, technical reports, plain-language summary documents, briefing notes and presentations;
  • Deliver oral presentations at meetings, workshops, and conferences that may be provincial, national or international in scope;
  • Review the scientific credibility and clarity of relevant materials prepared by others;
  • Effectively communicate complex scientific issues and findings to a wide range of expert and non-expert audiences, thereby ensuring government, industry, and public stakeholders can best employ or apply the information resulting from the Division’s monitoring, evaluation and reporting activities.

Scope

This position is an essential member of an interdisciplinary team that includes scientists (hydrology, chemistry, ecology, geospatial), and persons with other expertise including Indigenous knowledge. This position is expected to contribute new scientific ideas based on established and emerging approaches, which are identified and evaluated by reviewing scientific publications and communicating with other scientists. The position must exercise independent judgment in the evaluation, selection, and modification of standard techniques, processes and criteria, and is expected to devise new approaches to complex problems encountered, while working within conventional practices. The position operates with a high level of independence and accountability; creativity and problem solving are essential. The position provides advice and recommendations to senior scientists, project leads, and other Department staff on all aspects of monitoring design, planning, delivery, analysis and reporting. The position applies advanced knowledge not only to the research process but also in providing consultation and advice on various aspects of the work and its impacts and implications. The position also evaluates workload on a constant basis, is flexible and adapts to changing circumstances, and makes day-to-day decisions required to implement approved monitoring plans.

The position impacts both internal and external areas including work plans approved by Oil Sands Monitoring and the Environmental Monitoring and Science Division. Scientific milestones and deliverables completed by this position may impact policy and regulatory processes led by the Department and the Alberta Energy Regulator.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

The Wetland Scientist requires a Ph.D. degree with 2 years progressively responsible related experience or a M.Sc. degree with 4 years related experience, in a scientific discipline related to wetlands in at least two of the following areas: ecology, hydrology, water and contaminant chemistry, remote sensing and geospatial science. This position requires experience in the design and implementation of wetland science programs, and a record of publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals commensurate with established peers having a similar level of experience.

The position requires knowledge in the following areas:

  • Wetland ecosystem science;
  • New and emerging methods related to assessing the condition of Alberta’s wetland ecosystems and potential response to anthropogenic stressors;
  • Advanced statistical analyses of complex environmental data sets.

The position requires the following skills and abilities:

  • Strong environmental data analysis, and interpretation skills;
  • Strong scientific writing skills;
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills to develop and deliver information to the scientific community, Indigenous community members, stakeholders, and senior executives;
  • Intermediate leadership skills;
  • Working-level project management skills;
  • Ability to build and maintain effective and productive working relationships, including with other scientists, members of Indigenous communities, and stakeholders;
  • Ability to successfully manage multiple projects, meet timelines and work under pressure;
  • Ability to identify, anticipate, and analyze complex issues;
  • Ability to synthesize findings to identify risks, possible actions and, where possible, solutions.

Contacts

Wetland Scientist 4

  • Direct supervisor. Interact daily to discuss strategic and operational issues, and develop and monitor annual performance agreements.

Director, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health Sciences

  • Interact weekly to discuss strategic and operational issues related to the work of the section.

Environmental Monitoring and Science Division Leadership Team (Directors, Executive Directors, Chief Scientist)

  • Quarterly interactions to assist senior leaders in setting organizational priorities including developing strategic and operational plans; provide scientific input on wetland-related issues of importance to the Department and Government.

Environmental Monitoring and Science Division Scientists and other Branch Staff

  • Science Branch (collaborating with scientists and other staff including watershed, air and biodiversity/ecosystem health)
  • Environmental Monitoring and Observations Branch (providing scientific oversight on data collection and field work conducted by Biologists and Technologists)
  • Integrated Environmental Analytics and Prediction Branch (provide scientific input to ecological model development and application)
  • Indigenous Knowledge, Community Monitoring and Citizen Science Branch (develop and implement community-based monitoring approaches, and foster respectful braiding of Indigenous wisdom and classical science)

Scientists and other staff in Alberta Environment and Parks and other Government of Alberta Departments

  • Support an understanding of wetland-related information sources, and information needs, within other Alberta Environment and Parks Divisions including:
    • Operations Division (air, water, wildlife, fisheries and land management)
    • Parks Division (environmental information for parks planning and management)
    • Policy and Planning Division (regional environmental information for air, water and land use policy)
    • Strategy Division (environmental science issues relevant to Indigenous community members, stakeholders, and the public)
  • Key Department contacts outside Alberta Environment and Parks are Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (wetland-related information in forested and agricultural lands), Health (providing information of use in assessing human health impacts of anthropogenic activities), and Energy (wetland information in relation to energy development)
  • Monthly to quarterly interactions to provide scientific support, consultation, and advice on wetland science and to facilitate the access to, and application of, scientific findings in the Government of Alberta and internationally.

Indigenous community members and their representatives

  • Regular interactions to co-design wetland monitoring programs that are relevant to the information needs of Indigenous community members, consistent with the recommendations of the Indigenous Wisdom Advisory Panel; programs may also directly involve community members in program delivery.

Provincial, national and international committees, task forces and boards

  • Quarterly, annual, or occasional participation in multi-organizational and multi-jurisdictional teams to provide expert input, and to represent the Government of Alberta on wetland-related matters.

Graduate students and post-doctoral researchers

  • Monthly or more frequent interaction as supervisor, co-supervisor, or supervisory committee member for PhD and MSc students; external examiner at defenses and candidacy exams; Adjunct faculty at one or more universities.

External scientists, including federal government, academia, industry, partner monitoring organizations

  • Daily to weekly interactions to develop and implement integrated wetland science programs. Purpose: review of scientific literature, and reviewing draft manuscripts for journal articles and other reports; co-author publications with professionals in other organizations.

Supervision Exercised

The Wetland Scientist 3 may supervise junior staff and temporary employees including co-op students and interns, and may oversee the work of other staff (Scientists, Biologists and Technologists) responsible for delivering components of wetland monitoring programs. The Wetland Scientist 3 may also supervise graduate students and post-doctoral researchers via Adjunct faculty appointment at one or more post-secondary institutions.

The Government of Alberta is committed to a diverse and inclusive public service that reflects the population we serve to best meet the needs of Albertans. Consider joining a team where diversity, inclusion and innovation are valued and supported. For more information on diversity and inclusion, please visit the Diversity and Inclusion Policy.