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Diatoms for the efficient trapping of solar energy


Project Description

A PhD scholarship in biological nanostructures is offered for experimental research into marine diatoms, and in particular to study their outer cell wall that functions as an efficient trap for solar energy. The successful candidate will join the world leading School of Biological 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 PhD tuition fees for three years.

The thesis will involve researching a number of diatom species, all of which have nanostructured silica outer cell walls. These cell wall structures have evolved over many millions of years to act as very efficient traps of solar energy. The project will involve the growth, processing and layering of selected diatom species on substrates to characterize their micro/nanostructures using optical and electron microscopy. Different species of diatoms have adapted to grow under a wide range of lighting levels from equatorial waters to the under surface of sea ice in polar regions. The silica cell wall structures of representative diatom species from different solar radiation level environments will be related to the photosynthetic activity of the intact diatoms and the efficiency of solar energy capture by cleaned diatoms being undertaken in a parallel study by the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences. This PhD (biology) project will inform and complement a well-established research programme of Antarctic diatoms by Assoc. Prof Ryan of the School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington [3].

Applicants should have a biology degree equivalent to the 4-year BSc (Honours) degree in New Zealand, 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 algal biology and microscopy, and is 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, which includes an English language proficiency requirement [2].

Interested applications are invited to send an email with the subject heading “PhD: Diatoms for solar energy trapping” to Assoc. Prof Ken Ryan (). 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,
- If you are not already resident in New Zealand, a clear statement about when you would expect to be able to come to New Zealand.

Funding Notes

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,
- If you are not already resident in New Zealand, a clear statement about when you would expect to be able to come to New Zealand.

References

[1] http://www.victoria.ac.nz/sbs

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

[3] https://www.victoria.ac.nz/sbs/about/staff/ken-ryan

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