Soil Science (MSc, PhD)

pine-untreatedA collaboration between the Faculty of Land and Food Systems and Faculty of Forestry, the inter-faculty Soil Science Graduate Program offers opportunities for advanced study and research leading to MSc and PhD degrees. Students are registered in the Faculty of Graduate Studies through either the Faculty of Land and Food Systems or Faculty of Forestry, depending upon their research interests.

Areas of study include biometeorology, forest nutrition and nutrient cycling, mycorrhizal ecology, soil biology, soil quality and fertility, soil-plant interactions, ecosystem services, land an water systems.

Applicants to UBC Graduate programs should have academic backgrounds within the minimum academic requirements listed by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Master of Science

The M.Sc. program requirements are as follows:

minimum of 18 credits of coursework including the Graduate Seminar SOIL 500 (2 credits)
12 credits of thesis research.


The Ph.D. program requirements are as follows:

Appropriate coursework will be selected in consultation with the candidate's committee.
All candidates are required to take a comprehensive examination.
The major requirement for the Ph.D. is completion of a research thesis demonstrating ability to conduct significant and original scientific research.

T. Andrew Black Professor Biometeorology, climatic variability, carbon, water and energy balances of forests and agricultural crops
Chris Chanway Professor
(appointed jointly with Department of Forest & Conservation Sciences)
Soil, microorganisms, bacteria, fungi, ecology, nitrogen fixation, plant growth promotion
cropped-sue-grayston.jpg Sue Grayston Professor
(appointed jointly with Department of Forest & Conservation Sciences)
Microbial diversity and function in soils, plant-microbe interactions, rhizodeposition
Maja Krzic Associate Professor
(appointed jointly with Department of Forest & Conservation Sciences)
Soil quality, application of information technology in soil science education, soil compaction
Les Lavkulich Professor Emeritus; Graduate Advisor Mineralogy, surface reactions, soil genesis, mineral-organic interactions, natural science and policy development
cindy-prescott Cindy Prescott Professor
Department of Forest & Conservation Sciences, Faculty of Forestry
Soil ecology, nutrient cycling, soil restoration, forest soils.
Hans SchreierNOT accepting students Professor Emeritus Watershed management, land-water Interactions, soil and water pollution
Sean Smukler Assistant Professor Agricultural landscape ecology, biodiversity, ecosystem services, sustainable development
suzanne-simard Suzanne Simard Professor
Department of Forest & Conservation Sciences, Faculty of Forestry
Plant community ecology, plant - soil microbial interactions, mycorrhizae, forest regeneration

  • Shannon Berch (Adjunct Professor), BC Ministry of Forest & Range, Victoria. Soil mycorrhizae,
  • Klaas Broersma (Adjunct Professor), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Kamloops. Soil and water quality.
  • Sandra Brown (Research Associate). Natural and human impacted processes that affect land and water resources available for communities and ecosystems
  • Chuck Bulmer (Adjunct Professor), BC Ministry of Forest & Range, Vernon. Soil rehabilitation.
  • Andreas Christen (Associate Professor), Micrometeorology Group, Department of Geography, UBC.
  • Mike Curran (Adjunct Professor), BC Ministry of Forest & Range, Nelson. Soil conservation,
  • Tom Forge (Adjunct Professor), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Agassiz. Soil ecology.
  • Rachhpal Jassal (Research Associate). Carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions, soil-nutrient-water interactions
  • Loretta Li (Associate Professor), Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, UBC. Soil-contaminant interaction.
  • Paul Mitchell-Banks (Adjunct Professor), AMEC Environment and Infrastructure, Burnaby. Resource planning, aboriginal economic development, environmental assessment.
  • William Mohn (Professor), Department of Microbiology and Immunology, UBC. Soil bioremediation,
  • Dan Moore (Professor), Faculty of Science (Geography). Hydrology, hydroclimatology, riparian processes and management, physical water quality.
  • David Spittlehouse (Adjunct Professor), BC Ministry of Forests & Range, Victoria. Climate change, forest meteorology.
  • Wayne Temple (Research Associate). Soil fertility.
  • Julie Wilson (Sessional Lecturer and MLWS Academic Coordinator), Master of Land and Water Systems Program, UBC. Communications for natural resource professionals, urban watershed management, watershed cumulative effects assessment.
  • Yihai (Simon) Zhao (Research Associate). Forest soils, soil compaction, rangeland ecology.

The program is enriched through collaboration with colleagues in other graduate programs such as Forestry, Geography, Plant Science, Institute for Resources and Environment, Landscape Architecture, and in agencies such as Environment Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Forest Innovation Investment, and various provincial government agencies.

  • Agriculture and Ecosystem Services
  • Application of information technology in soil science education
  • Bioavailability assessment of trace metal contaminants in urban soils
  • Biological nitrogen fixation
  • Carbon and energy budgets of pre- to post harvest forests
  • Effects of weathering on the surface properties of minerals
  • Energy, water and carbon budgets of agricultural and forest ecosystems
  • Land use impacts on soil quality of rangelands and forests
  • Organic matter and nitrogen dynamics in reclaimed soils
  • Phosphorus transformations in soils
  • Plant-mycorrhiza-soil interactions and forest resilience to climate change
  • Rhizosphere microbiology in agricultural and forest soils
  • Soil microbial diversity and function in forest sites
  • Understanding ecosystems as complex adaptive systems

Graduates of the soil science degree program often obtain positions with government or the private sector. Some graduates decide to continue in the area of research and academia with various universities and colleges. Examples of where some graduates are employed:

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • BC Ministry of Forests
  • Canadian Forest Service
  • Consultant
  • Associate Professor, University of Guelph
  • Associate Professor, Yale University
  • Associate Professor, University of Northern BC
  • Environment Canada
  • Assistant Professor, University of Bengukulu, Indonesia
  • Assistant Professor, University of Venda for Science and Technology, South Africa