Category Archives: Scholarships

UC PhD scholarship

Check out this exciting UC PhD Scholarship “Applying novel mass spectrometry (REIMS)  to detect insect biosecurity threats“.

Kkmurray, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

You will have a first class honours or Masters degree in biology or chemistry and demonstrated competence in statistical analysis

If you have prior experience using mass spectrometry, competence in multivariate analysis and/or machine learning and an interest in entomology, that would be ideal.

You will be working at New Zealand’s only Rapid Evaporative Ionisation Spectrometry (REIMS) facility. REIMS is an novel mass spectrometry interface that is used to check the provenance of food.  Within seconds, a metabolic fingerprint classifies a sample.

You will apply REIMS to plant health biosecurity. An effective biosecurity system is crucial to protect New
Zealand’s primary production base and unique environment. A particularly difficult challenge is the rapid
identification of insect threats, especially where endemic species look similar to unwanted pest species. With the habitat range of pest insects changing with climate change and trade patterns, rapid
detection is crucial to inform biosecurity response operations.

Supervised by Assoc. Prof. Steve Pawson, UCBI, Assoc. Prof. Alastair Ross, AgResearch, Dr Karen Armstrong, Lincoln University and supported by Better Border Biosecurity (B3).

28K  + fees per annum for 3 years, applications close 31 Jan 2023.

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Masters scholarship

Apply for a Masters scholarship, 28K tax free for up to 18 months.

This is an exciting project with potentially high conservation impact with a commercial partner and supported by UC Biosecurity Innovations (UCBI).

Design a chemical to humanely kill introduced vertebrates. 
Photo b
y Airwolfhound

You will have

  • a chemistry or chemistry engineering background
  • a first or second-class honours
  • an interest in  conservation and pest control
  • and ideally an  understanding of reaction kinetics of NMR  however training will be provided.

Your Masters in Chemical Process Engineering or Masters in Science will develop a novel vertebrate toxic agent (VTA). The VTA is a mixture of two compounds and there is a possible production route for the active species.  You will develop a process design on the reaction kinetics or mechanism.  The measurements will be used to inform a New Zealand company, your funders, and to determine whether or not the production is commercially viable.

Key objectives are

  • To identify whether the reaction an equilibrium reaction.
  • To determine the reaction rate constants, and how these vary with temperature.
  • Recommend a probable reactor type for small scale production of the substance.

We will address these objectives using a novel benchtop NMR spectroscopy setup to perform online monitoring of the reaction kinetics. We will use NMR to perform structural identification of the products of the reaction, and to perform quantitative analysis of the changing composition throughout the reaction.  We will also design and build a system to enable real-time sampling of the reaction mixture.

Find out more and get in touch!