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Scholarship search | PhD Studentship in Geographic Information Science/Machine Learning

PhD Studentship in Geographic Information Science/Machine Learning


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September 20 2021 to October 24 2021
Closes in 3 days

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$82,500 plus tuition fees | Three years' duration | Two positions

Postgraduate | Research

Scholarship search | PhD Studentship in Geographic Information Science/Machine Learning

PhD Studentship in Geographic Information Science/Machine Learning

Applications are invited for two funded PhD studentships at Massey University, based on the Albany campus, available on a full-time basis to start as soon as possible after October 2021. The students will be joining the Massey Geoinformatics Collaboratory working on the BioWhere project, which is funded under the New Zealand MBIE Endeavour Smart Ideas Funding Scheme

About the Project:

The BioWhere project will develop methods to determine geographic coordinates (e.g. latitude and longitude) of text location descriptions to unlock huge amounts of biological data. Millions of records of species locations in biological collections, scientific reports and journal papers are in textual form (e.g. “South-east of Wellington, mouth of Orongorongo River, near coast”), lacking the coordinates needed to map species distribution. The project will use artificial intelligence to generate coordinates corresponding to descriptions of locations, in collaboration with both local (e.g. Te Papa Tongarewa) and international organisations (Kew Gardens, Natural History Museum, UK).

Place names data is key to successful mapping of text descriptions, and the project will collect data on Māori place names used by iwi/hapū (New Zealand Māori tribes and sub-tribes), including their origins, stories and geographic extents as they change over time, providing a foundation for interpreting phrases that mention place names (e.g. “mouth of Orongorongo River”). Historical biological collections data will be used to extract new knowledge about place names to create a self-learning gazetteer (location-aware database).

About the Scholarships:

PhD 1 will focus on the development of methods to parse natural language text and will then use a range of machine/deep learning methods to georeference location descriptions from biological collections, including those held by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research. A strong technical (computer science) background is essential, with skills in deep learning and natural language processing and/or geographic information/geospatial science an advantage.

PhD 2 will design and develop a self-learning gazetteer for New Zealand place names, with a particular focus on Māori place names, resolving a range of technical issues including matching place names and resolving inconsistent duplicate data. In addition, the student will work with iwi and hapū to elicit requirements for the gazetter and to collect place name data. This studentship requires technical (computer science) skills, including knowledge of databases and programming, with skills in deep/machine learning, natural language processing and/or geographic information/geospatial science an advantage. In addition, a willingness to apply social science research methods and work with stakeholders is essential. Knowledge of te Reo and te Ao Māori would be an advantage.

The scholarships will provide a stipend of NZ$27,500 and cover tuition fees. Applicants need to meet the University requirements for entry into the PhD programme, including a postgraduate degree in computer science, geospatial science with a strong computational element, or similar.

About Massey

We are a world-leading university in many academic disciplines and fields of research. Our point of difference is research that is connected to community and industry. Our researchers are developing expertise and skills to advance human knowledge and understanding. Working together across disciplines and locations, we solve national and global problems through fundamental, applied and interdisciplinary research, while culturally and artistically enriching our world.

We are deeply committed to being a Te Tiriti-led university, demonstrating authentic leadership in contemporary Aotearoa New Zealand as we uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the founding document of our nation, and its principles through our practice. We embrace this not just as an obligation but as a real opportunity for the nation and its people.

Our educators are preparing a new generation of global leaders. Our students are diverse and are attracted to Massey because they want to achieve their personal goals or make their mark in the world. They experience world-class learning that recognises their intellectual and cultural strengths, expands their horizons and prepares them to contribute to a rapidly transforming world with skills, critical and creative thinking and leadership.

We will be renowned for our passion and caring attitude. All Massey campuses will be innovation ecosystems, acting as magnets for smart enterprises. Wherever we are, we will operate in partnerships founded on respect, trust and mutual benefit. Massey is not only defined by what we do, but by how we do it.

Enquiries regarding the position/s can be directed to Dr Kristin Stock, Director, Massey Geoinformatics Collaboratory and Senior Lecturer in Information Technology, School of Natural and Computational Sciences, Massey University.

Application checklist

Please include the following with your application:

  • a cover letter stating the position/s you are interested in and explaining why you are interested in and suitable for the position
  • your CV
  • academic transcripts for all undergraduate and postgraduate study
  • contact details for three referees