Doctoral project funding opportunities

Find out about project funding opportunities available in New Zealand and overseas.


Institute of Fundamental Sciences

PhD scholarship in Drosophila Neurogenetics

A three-year Marsden-funded PhD scholarship is available to study the role of the epigenetic regulator HDAC4 in neuronal morphogenesis and memory in the neurogenetics laboratory of Dr Helen Fitzsimons in the Institute of Fundamental Sciences at Massey University in Palmerston North.

Project background

Our research programme is focused on understanding the molecular processes that underpin learning and memory. Impaired function of the histone deacetylase HDAC4 has been found in several neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders that are associated with cognitive impairments, and we have recently shown that HDAC4 plays a critical role in both long-term memory formation and neuronal development in Drosophila. HDACs are classically known to act in the nucleus of the cell to regulate gene expression, however HDAC4 is predominantly non-nuclear in neurons. Despite this, investigation of the non-nuclear functions of HDAC4 has been largely overlooked. In a recent breakthrough, we discovered that HDAC4 interacts genetically with a cluster of genes that regulate the actin cytoskeleton, which is an exciting finding, given that both long-term memory and neuronal morphogenesis are processes that are dependent on dynamic remodelling of the actin cytoskeleton.

The project

This project involves the use of genetic, molecular and biochemical techniques as well as behavioural assays in our Drosophila model to untangle the roles of cytoplasmic and nuclear pools of HDAC4 in memory formation and neuronal morphogenesis, and to elucidate the HDAC4 genetic network by investigating the mechanisms through which HDAC4 interacts with the cytoskeletal regulators that modulate these processes.

Candidate profile

Applicants should have a relevant postgraduate degree relevant to the above-described research areas, and be highly motivated and able to work as part of a team. A background in neuroscience and/or Drosophila genetics would be an advantage.

Application process

Apply by submitting a written letter of interest which includes your previous research interests and experience as well as your CV, academic transcript and contact details of three academic referees to

The PhD scholarship is NZD 25,000 (tax free) per year for three years including tuition fees. Candidates are expected to check they meet Massey University PhD admission requirements.

Applications close 23 February 2018


PhD scholarship in mathematics

The Institute of Fundamental Sciences of Massey University, Palmerston North, invites applications for a PhD scholarship in mathematics.

The research will be in the area of dynamical systems, supervised by Dr. David Simpson. The scholarship covers all tuition fees for international and domestic students and includes a tax-free stipend of NZ$25,000 annually for up to three years.

The theory of dynamical systems seeks to explain the behaviour of natural and man-made systems, such as the weather, the stock-market, and biological and chemical processes, through understanding mathematical models of these systems. Dr. Simpson's research focuses on piecewise-smooth systems with diverse applications.


Applicants should have or expect to receive a BSc(Hons) or MSc or equivalent in mathematics. Previous graduate-level studies in dynamical systems is highly desirable. The starting date is flexible.


Applications including a CV, academic transcript, and cover letter should be sent to Dr. David Simpson, Institute of Fundamental Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North, 4442, New Zealand, or by email to

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the scholarship is filled, so apply soon to avoid disappointment!

Applications close 12 March 2018

Physiology | The role of ionic mechanotransduction in gut motility

School of Health Sciences | PhD scholarship

The digestive biomechanics group is seeking a high calibre physiology graduate to undertake a PhD on the genesis of mechanosensitivity in the gut wall with a view to gaining greater understanding of intestinal disorders associated with aberrant gut motility. The scholarship provides for a NZD$25,000 (tax free) stipend per year for three years. Suitable candidates will need to meet Massey University entry requirements for enrolling in a PhD.


The processing of food by the gut to break it down into its component nutrients requires a combination of physical and enzymatic processing. The chyme which is expelled from the stomach largely consists of a suspension of partially digested food suspended in a watery fluid. Enzymatic digestion takes place under zero order kinetics with the rate being dependent on the rate of admixture of enzyme with particulate matter and its permeation into the particulate substrate. These processes depend on appropriate motility of the gut wall and cellular and neural mechanosensitive feedback.

While mechanosensitivity has been identified in neurons, myocytes and the interstitial cells of Cajal, the underlying mechanism is not fully understood. Strain and shear forces may alter the rates of transit of certain ions through a number of ion channels in the plasma membranes of cells but it is unclear how forces can be transduced via the fluid-lipid components of the plasma membrane. It is also known that the spatial organization of lipid membranes can change according to the forces applied and thus assume a configuration that is thermodynamically appropriate to the forces that are applied.

The proposed work will simultaneously quantify the rates of transit of ions through certain ion channels, the forces applied to the membrane bearing them and the configuration of polar lipids within them using a combination of patch clamping and atomic force microscopy.

The successful candidate will have an appropriate degree in physiology or biophysics and a good grounding in mathematics. She or he will be given training in in vitro cell culture, the maintenance of tissues and organs in culture, patch clamp electrophysiology and atomic force microscopy (AFM).


  • Dr Wei-Hang Chua | School of Health Sciences, Palmerston North
  • Professor Roger Lentle | School of Health Sciences, Palmerston North


The ideal candidate will have:

  • A degree in physiology, biophysics or a field related to this area of research
  • An appropriate grounding in mathematics
  • Bachelor's degree with suitable honors or a master's degree
  • GPA of at least 7.5 (A-) our of 9
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills and proven record of research productivity
  • Laboratory experience with handling animal tissue, cell culture, microscopy or electrophysiology and AFM would be advantageous but is not essential.


The successful candidate will receive NZ$25,000 (tax free) per yer for three years. Tuition fees are not included in the scholarship. Opportunities for paid graduate work outside of this stipend will be available.


The student will be based at Massey University’s Manawatū campus in Palmerston North, New Zealand.


Apply by submitting a letter of interest detailing your previous research interests and experience, include your curriculum vitae, academic transcripts, and the names and contact details of at least two academic references to Dr Wei-Hang Chua.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the scholarship is filled, so apply soon to avoid disappointment!

Applications close 18 March 2018

Potential candidates will be interviewed on a rolling basis. The successful candidate is expected to commence by the end of June 2018, although a later date is possible.

Further information can be obtained from:

Dr Wei-Hang Cha
Phone: +64 6 951 6326

Institute of Fundamental Sciences | Molecular cancer biology

Institute of Fundamental Sciences (IFS) | PhD scholarship in molecular cancer biology

A three year PhD scholarship is available in the area of molecular cancer biology. The PhD project will be carried out in the laboratory of Dr Jeong Park, located at Massey University in Palmerston North.

Project description

EP400 is a chromatin remodeling enzyme that has been implicated in DNA double-strand break repair and transcription regulation. Our recent data indicates that the N-terminal domain of EP400 increases the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs against cancer cells. Interestingly, we found that EP400 N-terminal-Like (EP400NL) gene resides right next to the EP400 gene locus, suggesting its potential regulatory function in the DNA damage response and transcription.

Overall aims of this project include:

  1. Purify and characterise EP400NL protein complex from a human cancer cell line.
  2. ) Investigate EP400NL function in transcriptional regulation using reporter gene assays and chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis.
  3. Investigate the global transcription effect of EP400NL inhibition either by shRNA expression or CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing.

The project requires proficient analytical and troubleshooting skills regarding DNA, RNA and protein research, mainly using biochemical and molecular biological techniques. Previous experience in mammalian tissue culture, gene expression analysis, and protein purification is highly desirable.

Candidate and scholarship conditions

We are looking for a motivated student with background in biochemistry, cell biology and/or molecular biology with a special interest in chromatin structure and function. Applicants should have a BSc Honours, MSc degree or equivalent with achievement of first class honours (or high second class division 1). The scholarship is a three year funded position with a stipend of $NZ 25,000 per annum plus fees. Non-native English candidates must have an appropriate English language qualification for Massey University admission. To apply for the position, please send the following to with “PhD scholarship” as the subject:

  1. Letter of interest
  2. CV
  3. Academic transcripts
  4. Full contact details of three academic referees

The deadline for the application is 30 April 2018. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the studentship is filled. Starting date is flexible but should be no later than 15 December, 2018.

Dr Jeong Park
Senior Lecturer
Institute of Fundamental Sciences
Massey University

College of Health | 'We the village'

'We the village' - Timebanking as a model for equitable and sustainable postpartum support

A PhD scholarship is available to test a concept in cooperation with Timebank Wellington for reducing the isolation faced by many new parents and promoting positive postpartum mental health. Local exchange trading systems (LETS) are locally initiated, democratically organised, not-for-profit community enterprises holding promise for reducing poverty alongside enhancing social capital. A LETS provides a community information service and records transactions of members exchanging goods and services by using locally created currency. Timebanking is a type of LETS, which uses time as the currency for exchanging skills and knowledge. Members can exchange any range of skills they have and gain time credits. 'We the Village' will be a platform through which family help can be offered and requested using a time bank model with no monetary component.

'We the Village' will work with pregnant couples to gain Timebank credits throughout their pregnancy. Some Timebank credits will be gained through helping other families in the postpartum period, and in turn, they will then be able to receive help in the early days with their newborn. These parents will be part of an on-going support network of parents and other community members, such as older people. Broader aims of this project include: enabling pregnant couples to gain some experience in newborn care before their baby is born through helping other families; enhance infant feeding support, elevate the wellbeing of older people who have time and skills to share and would like to contribute in this way to their community; and foster ongoing community connections.

The recruited student will work with a project manager on implementing and evaluating this project. The concept will be promoted through Wellington Timebank for other individuals, such as the elderly or other parent members, to support families with babies. Ideally, the student will have some experience in practice and possess good interpersonal skills.

Amount awarded

The scholarship includes a stipend of $25,000 per annum for a maximum period of three years (fees not included).


Students must be prepared to be enrolled at Massey University by 1 August 2018.

Students will have a bachelor's degree with appropriate honours or master's degree in a relevant field, such as Public Health, Psychology, Health Promotion. A minimum GPA of 7.5 (above an average of A-) is required. The candidate will also be required to reside in Wellington for the duration of the project.

Selection criteria: academic record; interest and enthusiasm for topic; good written and oral communications skills; experience in running participatory and collaborative projects desirable, but not essential.


Primary supervisor: Dr Mat Walton, School of Health Sciences
Secondary supervisor: Dr Eva Neely, School of Health Sciences

How to apply

Applicants should send a copy of their curriculum vitae, a statement of interest and the names and contact details of referees to:

Eva Neely
Phone: 04 801 5799 ext 63371


Institute of Fundamental Sciences | Chemistry PhD scholarship

Institute of Fundamental Sciences (IFS) | Chemistry PhD scholarship

We seek an enthusiastic and capable student with a love of organic chemistry to begin a Ph.D. scholarship at the Institute of Fundamental Sciences (IFS), Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

The research project will involve the design and synthesis of new catalysts for C–H activation chemistry. These will be applied to the synthesis of naturally occurring alkaloids and their analogues. The project will be supervised by Associate Professor Gareth Rowlands.

Chemistry diagram

Traditional organic synthesis involves the tedious manipulation of functional groups in order to prime molecules before coupling them; it is time-consuming, wasteful, and inefficient. C–H activation removes many of these extraneous steps by allowing the direct coupling of two molecules. It is an exciting development in chemistry that could revolutionise organic synthesis. There are many questions that need to be answered before C–H activation can become an everyday tool. One area we are interested in studying is the intermolecular enantioselective C–H activation of biologically important substrates. This project will look at the creation of new ligands and their application to the C–H activation of a range of alkaloid precursors.

Applicants should have or expect to receive a BSc(Hons) or MSc or equivalent in chemistry. The starting date is relatively flexible but the candidate must pass Ph.D. entry requirements and the university scholarship committee by August 2018 and have started the Ph.D. by December 2018

Expressions of interest

Expressions of interest should be directed to Associate Professor Gareth Rowlands:


Hemholtz resonance to measurement of degree-of-fill in topdressing aircraft hoppers

Fixed wing aircraft are widely used to apply a variety of granular fertilizers, both in pastoral and cropping agriculture. The fertilizer is contained in a wedge-shaped hopper built into the fuselage of the aircraft; loading is via a hatch at the top and discharge is controlled by a clamshell mechanism at the hopper exit. Knowledge of hopper fill is important in normal operation as in principle it provides real time data on application rate. Hopper fill level is also critical to decision making in situations demanding unplanned or evasive manoeuvres following mechanical failure or human error in navigating risky terrain.

The resonant frequency of a hard body cavity obeys is a simple function of the cavity volume. An object placed in the cavity, in this case the particulate fertilizer, changes the volume and hence the resonant frequency. Thus, in principle, measurement of the resonant frequency is a potential route to determination of fill level. There are however several technical challenges arising from the particulate nature of the fill material, and the working environment, a propeller-driven aircraft.

The successful candidate will likely have a background in physics or engineering and will provide evidence of well-developed mathematical skills and practical ability.


The project will be carried out with an industrial partner (Ravensdown) and a stipend is offered for a duration of 3 years.


Applicants should provide their CV and a concise statement (maximum of 500 words on one A4 page, submitted both as a Microsoft Word document and PDF) stating why they should be the successful candidate for this opportunity to:

Professor Clive Davies
School of Engineering and Advanced Technology

Dr Miles Grafton
Soil and Earth Sciences | School of Agriculture and Environment


School of Engineering and Advanced Technology

The School of Engineering and Advanced Technology (SEAT) has four Massey doctoral scholarships to award each year. These are very competitive scholarships that are worth $25,000 a year for three years, to cover fees and living expenses. 

Given the very small number of scholarships SEAT will place emphasis on three criteria: 

  • the academic merit of the student; the University rules require a GPA of at least 7.5 out of 9 (A-) based on their last two years of study, together with research experience
  • the development of staff research experience, including having early career staff as co-supervisors
  • the fit of the proposed research with the strategic directions of Massey and SEAT (and therefore this is a good thing to comment on in the relevant sections of the form)

Please ensure that these criteria are addressed in the application.

How to apply

Applications need to be made in collaboration between supervisors and student. Initial applications should be on the Massey University form.  

Please send the form to Karen Pickering

The deadline for applications each year is November.

Veterinary Pathology

Masterate Scholarship in Veterinary Pathology

The purpose of this School of Veterinary Science Masterate Scholarship is to encourage veterinary graduates who plan a career in veterinary diagnostic pathology to undertake university postgraduate study in this field. The Scholar will be expected to develop expertise in the diagnosis of animal diseases in preparation for seeking specialist qualifications in pathology, and to gain experience in tertiary education by providing laboratory and lecture instruction in veterinary diagnostic pathology.  

Amount awarded

The value of the scholarship will be $30,000 per annum (tax free) for two years. In addition to the emolument, the scholarship shall cover tuition fees for an MVSc or MVS. The scholarship shall be tenable at Massey University, Palmerston North.


The scholarship is open to students who hold a BVSc degree able to be registered in New Zealand and who qualify to register as a candidate for the degree of Master of Veterinary Studies (MVS). The scholar will be expected to participate in the routine necropsy service provided by IVABS Pathobiology Section, which includes a range of domestic and wildlife animal species. In addition, the scholar will be required to conduct a research project under the supervision of an IVABS pathologist. The academic programme will be directed towards preparing for American College of Veterinary Pathologists Board Certification. Candidates must be New Zealand or Australian citizens or permanent residents of New Zealand or Australia.

How to apply

Every person who wants to be considered for the School of Veterinary Science Scholarship should apply on the application form provided by the School (obtained from or Massey Contact, email:

Informal enquiries can be addressed to John Munday ( phone: 06 356 9099 ext 85172

New Zealand

Biomedical - tackling cancer, diabetes and infectious diseases

Biomedical - Tackling cancer, diabetes and infectious diseases

Research opportunities with the Maurice Wilkins Centre (MWC), Centre of Research Excellence

Bringing together world leading biomedical researchers from around New Zealand to tackle cancer, diabetes and infectious diseases.

One of our major roles is to train the country's next generation of leaders in biomedical research. The projects involve highly innovative biomedical research and are based at one of the following institutions:

  • Otago University
  • Massey University
  • The University of Auckland
  • The University of Waikato
  • University of Canterbury
  • Victoria University

Uniquely with these scholarships, you will also be eligible to spend time in other leading laboratories and training centres outside your home base, including overseas, and to access advanced equipment and facilities that can accelerate your research, wherever in NZ those facilities are based. Becoming part of the MWC brings the opportunity to interact with world-leading scientists right across the country, as well as their international collaborators.

How to apply

Before you contact MWC to express your interest, follow the steps below.

  1. Have a look at the available projects listed on the MWC website.
  2. Download the expression of interest form 
  3. Complete the form and send as a PDF file, along with your current CV, academic transcript and names of any referees, if requested.
  4. Email your expression of interest to or to the project lead supervisor.

Eligibility criteria

You must be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and have either an exceptional academic track record or have a proven track record of research productivity. If you have any doubts about your eligibility, you can phone MWC on 09 923 5533.

Minimising Gambling Harm

Minimising gambling harm

The Health Research Council (HRC) is administering the Preventing and Minimising Gambling Harm Career Development Awards, which are funded by the Ministry of Health.

Applicants are invited to apply for master's, PhD and postdoctoral awards to support the career development of emerging health researchers seeking to prevent and minimise gambling-related harm for Māori and Pacific populations in New Zealand.

Applicants will apply using the standard HRC Māori or Pacific career development forms, which will be available on the HRC's website.

Award components: Stipend of $10,000; course fees up to $10,000;
Working expenses of $1,600
Term of award: 1 year
Number of awards available: 1

Award components: Stipend and working expenses up to a total of $410,000
Term of award: 4 years
Number of awards available: 1


Australia - Marine Biotechnology

Marine Biotechnology

Deakin University - Geelong, Victoria, Australia

Jointly funded by Deakin University and Plant and Food Research, Nelson, NZ.

Supervisors: Professor Colin Barrow, Chair in Biotechnology, Deakin University and Dr. Sue Marshall, Plant and Food Research.

At least one PhD scholarship is to be awarded to carry out a joint project with Deakin University in Geelong, Australia and Plant and Food Research, New Zealand. The scholarship of A$25,000 per annum will be awarded to a student graduating with a first-class honours degree in chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, or a related field. Applicants should be Australian citizens or permanent residents, or New Zealand citizens.

The project involves the discovery and development of new lipases for enzymatic concentration of omega-3 fatty acids from fish and microbial oils. These lipases will have application in functional foods and pharmaceuticals. Specifically, the project will have three parts. Firstly, the student will mine published and proprietary genomic databases to identify potentially useful lipases that will then be cloned and tested. Secondly, the student will isolate and test new lipases from fish and microbes. Thirdly, the student will take part in the development of novel immobilization technologies that will enable the new lipases to be used in a commercial setting.

The successful applicant will be expected to spend most of their time at Deakin University in Geelong, Australia, but may spend up to one year in Nelson, New Zealand. Applicants are encouraged to apply for Australian Postgraduate Awards (APAs) and Deakin University Postgraduate Research Scholarships (DUPRS).


Interested candidates please forward your CV and expression of interest to Professor Colin Barrow or Dr Susan Marshall

France - Eiffel Doctoral Scholarships for New Zealand students

Eiffel Doctoral Scholarships for New Zealand students - France

These scholarships are offered by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to international students for doctoral studies in France. Since 2006, one of these scholarships per year has been offered to a New Zealand student. 

For further details visit:

France - Hexagon travel grants for New Zealand students

Hexagone travel grants for New Zealand students

Every year the French Embassy in Wellington allocates a few Hexagone travel grants to New Zealand students. The travel grant is for students who want to pursue their studies in France at honours or master's level. The travel grant consists of 2000 euros (approx NZ$3,800) per student.

Preference is given to Political Science, Law, Economics, Business and Management, Science or Engineering students.

Hexagone principal scholarship

Each year, one applicant will be awarded the Hexagone principal scholarship worth 12,000 euros, for studies in France at master's level.

A number of courses are taught in English. For a list of available courses, visit the Study in France page on the Campus France website.

How to apply for a travel grant

You must enrol at a French University or Grande Ecole for at least six months. Travel grants are offered in combination with a social security scholarship for the duration of the studies in France.

For further information, email

Related websites

Germany - Environmental Governance & Forest Ecology & Management

Environmental Governance and Forest Ecology and Management - Germany

Environmental Governance (MEG) and Forest Ecology and Management (FEM) International MSC Programmes at Freiburg University, Germany.

The MSc course 'Environmental Governance' focuses on socio-economic issues, whereas 'Forest Ecology and Management' concentrates on ecological aspects. Both courses are taught entirely in English and have a duration of two years.

For further information visit: and

Saudi Arabia - Undergraduate Scholarships for New Zealanders

Undergraduate scholarships for New Zealand students - Saudi Arabia

A limited number of scholarships are available for New Zealand students wanting to study in Saudi Arabia.

Two types of scholarships are available:

  • Muslim and Non-Muslim Students 1-2 Scholarships per year at King Saud Maile University
  • Muslim Students 2-3 Scholarships per year at Islamic Male University of Medina.


Students must be:

  • between 18 to-25 years old and hold a valid NZ passport
  • required to undertake Arabic Language studies for two years.

After completion of language training, the scholarship holder may study undergraduate programmes at any Faculty (except medicine or engineering).

The Scholarship provides:

  • free tuition
  • free text books in Arabic language
  • single person accommodation
  • monthly stipend of NZ$400 per month
  • subsidised meals from University cafeteria
  • medical expenses
  • annual return air ticket.

Further information

You can contact:

Tony Davies
NZ Education Attache to the GCC, NZ Embassy, Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh

Massey Contact Centre Mon - Fri 8:30am to 5:00pm 0800 MASSEY (+64 6 350 5701) TXT 5222 Web chat Staff Alumni News Māori @ Massey