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Data Analytics and Sensometrics

   Riddet Institute

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  Prof J Hort, Dr Sara Jaeger  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

We are seeking a candidate for a fantastic opportunity to study for a PhD in  Data Analytics and Sensometrics

We are seeking a PhD candidate for a research project funded by the Riddet Institute (www.riddet.ac.nz). This project is a collaboration between the Sensory and Consumer Science Team at Plant and Food Research (PFR) (https://www.plantandfood.com/en-nz/article/how-do-consumers-think-feel-and-behave) and the Food Experience and Sensory Testing (Feast) lab (www.massey.ac.nz/feast)  and Artificial Intelligence team at Massey University. It is under the joint supervision of Dr Sara Jaeger (PFR) and Professor Joanne Hort (Feast). The key idea of this project is to apply data analytic techniques (e.g., traditional statistics, machine learning, natural language processing, sentiment analysis) to gain meaningful insights into consumer engagement with eating and drinking.

The PhD candidate will use the state-of-the-art data analytics techniques to understand consumer response to meat alternatives in comparison to traditional techniques in food-related consumer research. The 3-year scholarship includes an annual tax-free stipend of NZD$30,000 and tuition fees. The PhD candidate will be mainly based on the Albany campus and co-supervised by Professor of AI , Prof. Ruili Wang (Massey University, Auckland). 

The ideal candidate must have:

  • MSc degree (or equivalent) or BSc degree with Honours (or equivalent) in Data analytics/AI or relevant discipline including Mathematics, Statistics or Bioinformatics.
  • Motivation and self-determination to complete a PhD within 3 years.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Programming skills including R and Python.
  • Ability to handle, organise and structure large volumes of files and data.
  • Demonstrated high ethical standards, diligence, integrity, professionalism, politeness and a good team player.

The closing date for applications is 30st June 2022 with a start date of on or after 1st Sep 2022

The application must include:

  • Cover letter (1-2 pages), explaining your interest and why you think you are suited to the position.
  • CV (summarising education, employment, scientific outputs, names of 3 references)
  • Copies of educational certificates and transcript of records.

Your application (relevant documents mentioned above) must be submitted to: [Email Address Removed]  

If you would like to know more about this opportunity, please contact Dr Sara Jaeger ([Email Address Removed]), Prof Joanne Hort ([Email Address Removed]) or Professor of AI,  Ruili Wang ([Email Address Removed]) by email. Do not submit your application to these email addresses.

Additional Information

The PhD student’s duties will include:

  • Presenting a seminar and written report to gain confirmation into a PhD one year after starting.
  • Preparing for, and meeting regularly, with supervisors to discuss plans and results.
  • Presenting plans for research and experimental protocols to supervisors and collaborators for review prior to carrying out the work.
  • Travelling to and working with collaborators at Plant and Food research in Auckland.
  • Collecting consumer data, developing using and applying relevant data analytic approaches
  • Submitting manuscripts to journals, including at least two research articles, before the PhD thesis is submitted.
  • Complying with Ethical and Health and Safety Policies at Massey University, and collaborator organisations, and having consideration for the safety of yourself and others in the workplace.
  • Ensuring legislative compliance (e.g., Department of Labour, HSNO, EPA, Animal Ethics) and appropriate data security.


The Food Experience and Sensory Testing (Feast) Lab was established in 2018 at Massey University by Professor Joanne Hort. It is a leading research and training centre in New Zealand for sensory and consumer science with a team (led by Prof Hort)  of 20 postdoctoral researchers, students, technical staff and administrators. Feast has carried out research and training and collaborates with a range of organisations including the food industry (for example, Fonterra, Zespri, Synlait, Frucor Suntory and many smaller to medium enterprises), Crown Research Institutes and other Universities, including projects via its close ties with the Riddet Institute.

PFR - Sensory & Consumer Science Team

The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited (PFR) (https://www.plantandfood.com) is a global leader in the research and development of new elite cultivars and food products. Understanding consumer behaviour allows companies to develop products that specifically appeal to the requirements of a target audience. We use new and existing methods to research consumer requirements for foods and beverages to support industry partners with the launch of new products and expansion in new marketplaces, as well as directing elite cultivar breeding programmes and development of new wine styles.

Riddet Institute

The Riddet Institute is the pre-eminent centre in New Zealand for the science of food, nutrition and supporting disciplines, carrying out the fundamental and strategic research that will lead to tomorrow’s innovation in high margin food products and processes. It acts as the leader and integrator for New Zealand food science, setting the standard for cross-organisation, cross-discipline collaboration and facilitating knowledge transfer to industry through strong networks and partnerships.

Massey University

Massey University is a Tiriti-led University with major campuses located in Palmerston North, Auckland (at Albany) and Wellington. For more information about studying for a PhD at Massey see here.

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