Scholarships

View the range of scholarships available to students in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences.

PhD positions available

Immunoglycomics Group: 'Mining Mincle: How Mincle ligands can lead to more effective vaccines.'

A PhD position is available at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, within the Immunoglycomics group of Assoc. Prof.s Bridget Stocker and Mattie Timmer. This position is for three years and is funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand, as a Marsden fund.

We are looking for a hardworking and motivated student with either an Honours or Masters level degree in Chemistry to undertake a PhD on the synthesis and biological evaluation of vaccine adjuvants. The project will involve organic synthesis (carbohydrate chemistry) and may also include the provision for the candidate to perform their own biological experiments, pending the experience and/or skill set of the successful applicant and their research interests.

All applications must include a cover letter, a copy of the applicant's Academic Transcript and summary of the laboratory research undertaken by the candidate (noting any relevant publications).

The start date for the PhD is flexible, though we would anticipate that the candidate commences their study by the start of the New Year (2018).

For further information, and to apply, please contact Assoc. Prof. Bridget Stocker at bridget.stocker@vuw.ac.nz.

Portable THz imaging device

We propose to build a portable terahertz spectral imaging tool that operates in the time-domain. Here, we will use THz pulses to construct 3D images of samples by correlating their return times with the distance they travel. Using existing methods, we can capture an entire THz wave in a ‘single shot’ – essential capability for 3D imaging ­– by using a standard spectrograph to resolve how THz pulses interact with probe pulses in a non-linear optical crystal. In this project, we aim to translate these methods from operating with large amplified lasers, to portable (and less expensive) unamplified lasers from which industrial instruments could be built. Potential applications of such an instrument include primary industries, border security, building materials, and manufacturing production lines. In order to achieve sufficient spectral, temporal, and spatial resolution using weak laser pulses, this project will challenge us to develop new ways of efficiently generating and detecting THz pulses and rapidly processing the data towards real-time applications.

We are seeking a highly motivated person with an excellent academic record and a good understanding of experimental physics, engineering, or physical chemistry. Experience in optics and spectroscopy research is considered favourably. Applicants should have a physics, chemistry, or engineering degree equivalent to the 4-year BSc (Honours) degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours, or an MSc.

The scholarship provides a generous non-taxed stipend of NZ$27,000 per annum plus the PhD tuition fee for three years.

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Justin.Hodgkiss@vuw.ac.nz with “PhD THz” in the subject line.

Ultrafast spectroscopy of perovskite PV materials

School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington and The MacDiarmid Institute

Hybrid organic inorganic halide perovskite materials have generated immense interest for photovoltaics applications in recent years. They exhibit strong optical absorption throughout visible wavelengths, direct photocarrier generation, and their photovoltaic efficiencies already approach that of silicon cells. Many of the exceptional properties of these materials have been shown through ultrafast spectroscopy, while questions remain about carrier cooling dynamics, polaron formation, photorefractive effects, the nature of role of defects, and a number of other topics. In collaboration with world-leading materials and device groups, we will develop and exploit ultrafast optical spectroscopy measurements that can address some of these questions.

We are seeking a highly motivated person with an excellent academic record and a good understanding of physical chemistry or experimental physics. Experience in optics and spectroscopy research is considered favourably. Applicants should have a chemistry or physics degree equivalent to the 4-year BSc (Honours) degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours, or an MSc.

The scholarship provides a generous non-taxed stipend of NZ$27,000 per annum plus the PhD tuition fee for three years.

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Justin.Hodgkiss@vuw.ac.nz with “PhD perovskite” in the subject line.

Ultrafast spectroscopy to resolve the origin of UV photoprotection in eumelanin

The natural brown skin pigment eumelanin protects us from UV light by intercepting photons and dissipating their energy before proteins and DNA are damaged. Eumelanin’s photoprotection mechanism is masked by its extreme chemical and physical complexity, which may in fact be essential to its function. In this project, we aim to understand how eumelanin so effectively dissipates UV energy by interrogating this process using ultrafast optical spectroscopy. We will use three complementary broadband ultrafast methods – ultrafast fluorescence, ultrafast transient absorption, and femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopies – to elucidate the electronic and structural relaxation pathways in eumelanin.

We are seeking a highly motivated person with an excellent academic record and a good understanding of physical chemistry or experimental physics. Experience in optics and spectroscopy research is considered favourably. Applicants should have a chemistry or physics degree equivalent to the 4-year BSc (Honours) degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours, or an MSc.

The scholarship provides a generous non-taxed stipend of NZ$27,000 per annum plus the PhD tuition fee for three years.

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Justin.Hodgkiss@vuw.ac.nz with “PhD eumelanin” in the subject line.

PhD Scholarship in Physics

Ion beam modification of thin films for advanced voltage-tunable magnetoresistance magnetic sensors

A PhD scholarship in physics is offered for experimental research into ion beam modification of thin films to develop novel voltage-tunable magnetic sensors. The successful candidate will join the world leading GNS Science [1] and the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences [2] at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW). The scholarship will provide a generous non-taxed living allowance of NZ$27,000 per annum plus the PhD tuition fee for three years.

The thesis research will involve ion beam implantation in single and multilayer films with the aim to modify the materials properties in magnetoresistance magnetic sensors and thereby achieve voltage tuning of the sensing axis. It is part of a larger programme headed by the Robinson Research Institute (RRI) [3] with the aim to make new magnetic sensors for non-destructive testing to ensure infrastructure reliability. All three institutions are located in Wellington, New Zealand. Thin films will be made at RRI and GNS Science. Implantation will be undertaken at GNS Science and ion beam methods will be used to characterise the films. The structures will be further characterised by x-ray diffraction, SEM, and TEM. The magnetic and electronic properties will be researched up to 9 T and down to 2 K using our physical property measurement system (PPMS) and our magnetic property measurement system (MPMS). Access to additional resources within New Zealand is available from the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology [4] where the PhD supervisors are investigators.

Applicants should have a physics degree equivalent to the 4-year BSc (Honours) degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours, or an MSc or postgraduate Diploma with high grades. We are seeking a highly motivated person with an excellent academic record, a good understanding of solid state physics, and able to work well in a multi-institutional team. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Victoria University and applicants should ensure that they can satisfy the English language requirements [5].

Interested applications are invited to send an email with “PhD: Ion beam modification for voltage-tunable magnetoresistance magnetic sensors” to Prof Grant Williams (grant.williams@vuw.ac.nz). Please note that all applications should include a full Curriculum Vitae, including your University Transcripts, and the names of at least two people who are prepared to act as referees. It would also be useful to include a statement indicating why you are interested in the project.

References

[1] https://www.gns.cri.nz/Home/Our-Science/Nuclear-and-Isotope-Science

[2] http://www.victoria.ac.nz/scps

[3] http://www.victoria.ac.nz/robinson

[4] http://macdiarmid.ac.nz/

[5] http://www.victoria.ac.nz/fgr/prospective-phds/qualifications-required.aspx

Carbon nanotube network field effect transistors as a sensing platform

AMF image of a carbon nanotube

Applications are invited for a PhD position in the group of Dr Natalie Plank at the School of Chemical and Physical Science, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand in collaboration with Dr Colleen Marlow at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, USA.

The project will focus on the synthesis, fabriction and electrical characterisation of carbon nanotube field effect transistor devices with controlled morphology. The candidate
will be expected to travel regularly to Cal Poly SLO to conduct detailed transport measurements on the carbon nanotube networks. A particular emphasis will be on employing these devices integrated with DNA aptamer recognition elements for electronic biosensors. Previous experience in nanofabrication techniques, scanning electron microscopy, transistor characterisation and atomic force microscopy is highly desirable. The successful candidate will work in collaboration with 2 other PhD students on the larger project, and will be working within the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.

Applicants should be ambitious and demonstrate a high level of initiative. Applicants should ideally have a First-Class Honours Physics or Electrical Engineering degree (or an equivalent 4-year degree qualification) and satisfy the Victoria University (http://www.vuw.ac.nz) requirements for PhD study. Non-native English candidates must have an appropriate English qualification (TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge).

The scholarship provides a non-taxed living allowance of NZ$27,000 per annum, which is a very comfortable living salary in Wellington, plus the PhD tuition fee for three years. The commencement date can be from now until 1 January 2018.

To apply email a copy of your CV to Dr Natalie Plank with “Marsden CNT FETs 2018” in the subject line. Your cover email should indicate what specific experience or interests you have relevant to this position.

Contact:
Dr. Natalie Plank
School of Chemical and Physical Sciences
Victoria University of Wellington
New Zealand
natalie.plank@vuw.ac.nz

Water purification using solar energy captured by natural photonic crystals

A PhD scholarship in physics is offered for experimental research into natural photonic crystals that trap solar energy and have the potential for generating steam to purify water. The successful candidate will join the world leading School of Chemical and Physical Sciences [1] at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The scholarship will provide a generous non-taxed living allowance of NZ$27,000 per annum plus the PhD tuition fee for three years.

The thesis will involve researching single-celled algae, diatoms, that have nanostructured silica outer cell walls. These cell walls act as photonic crystals and have the potential for generating steam from water, after suitable processing, by the selective absorption of solar energy. The single-celled diatoms will be supplied by our collaborators. Their optical characteristics, including spectral properties, will be determined and modelled using the equipment and facilities at the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences and the Robinson Research Institute of Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The solar to thermal energy conversion and water purification efficiency of the diatoms will also be measured.

Applicants should have a physics degree equivalent to the 4-year BSc (Honours) degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours, or an MSc or postgraduate Diploma with high grades. We are seeking a highly motivated person with an excellent academic record, a good understanding of solid state physics, optics, and able to work well in a multi-institutional team. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington and applicants should ensure that they can satisfy the English language requirements [2].

Interested applications are invited to send an email with the subject heading “PhD: Solar water purification” to Dr Gerald Smith (gerald.smith@vuw.ac.nz) and Prof Grant Williams (grant.williams@vuw.ac.nz). Please note that all applications must include:

- A full Curriculum Vitae, including your university transcripts,

- A statement detailing why you are interested in this project,

- The names of at least two people who are prepared to act as referees,

- Evidence of your English language ability,

- A clear statement about when you would expect to be able to come to New Zealand.

References

[1] http://www.victoria.ac.nz/scps

[2] http://www.victoria.ac.nz/fgr/prospective-phds/qualifications-required.aspx

Voltage-tuneable magnetoresistive sensors  

History and purpose

In this 3-year PhD project, we seek a student to develop a new magnetoresistive sensor with a dynamically-controllable sensing axis. This project is a key part of a Robinson Research Institute research programme to develop non-destructive testing (NDT) tools for maintaining critical infrastructure including electricity networks and pipelines.

The successful candidate will be supervised by Dr Simon Granville at the Robinson Research Institute [1] of Victoria University of Wellington, in the coolest little capital city in the world – Wellington, New Zealand. They will also be a part of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology [2], a New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence made up of a nation-wide network of materials science and nanotechnology researchers.

The project will involve

  • Preparing magnetic thin films and multilayer structures using magnetron sputtering, and using clean room lithography to process them into sensor devices such as magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs)
  • Basic physical characterisation by magnetic and magnetotransport techniques including SQUID magnetometry, magnetoresistance and magneto-optical measurements
  • Collaborating with the project team to develop voltage control over the sensor’s magnetisation direction

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of early-career networking, training, career development and social events [3], and will have the opportunity to be involved in the wider magnetic materials and devices research at the Robinson Research Institute (collaborators in China, Japan, UK, USA, Australia).

Eligibility

Applicants should have a physics degree equivalent to the 4-year BSc (Honours) degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours, or an MSc or postgraduate Diploma with high grades.  A background in condensed matter physics, materials science or similar is required, as well as being comfortable working in a team and good communication skills. The ideal candidate will have experience with thin films, magnetic or magnetotransport characterisation, and/or basic clean room lithographic processing. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Victoria University and ensure that they can satisfy the English language requirements [3].

Total value and tenure of scholarship

The scholarship includes an untaxed stipend of NZ$27,000 per annum for 3 years, plus payment of all tuition fees.

Further Information and how to apply

Interested applications are invited to send an email titled “Re: Magnetic sensor PhD position” to Dr Simon Granville (simon.granville@vuw.ac.nz) and Prof Grant Williams (grant.williams@vuw.ac.nz). Applicants should include the following:

- A full Curriculum Vitae, including your University Transcripts,

- A statement detailing why you are interested in this project,

- The names of at least two people who are prepared to act as referees,

- Evidence of your English language ability,

- A clear statement about when you would expect to be able to come to NZ.

References:

[1] Robinson Research Institute https://www.victoria.ac.nz/robinson

[2] MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology http://macdiarmid.ac.nz/

[3] http://www.victoria.ac.nz/fgr/prospective-phds/qualifications-required.asp