Network modelling of seed biosecurity risk
Additional supervisors: Prof John Hampton, Dr Phil Rolston, Dr Chris Buddenhagen,
The Bio-Protection Research Centre, Lincoln University, New Zealand, is offering a fully funded PhD fellowship through the New Zealand Better Border Biosecurity consortium. This is a fantastic opportunity for a student wanting to develop skills in applying network approaches to ecological problems. The student will become an integral member of a national research team undertaking a high-profile project.
The aim of the project is to explore how network models can help us understand the risk posed by pests and weeds spreading through the national and international movement of commercial seed. Farms benefit from, and are exposed to risk via, the import, multiplication, and export of seed for planting. Incursions related to this pathway in New Zealand include the weeds black grass and velvet-leaf and the insect pest, pea weevil. Contamination of seed lots with weed seed could cause problems in New Zealand or impact market access.
By working closely with the seed import and export industry, this PhD will initially collate spatial distribution data using seed lot inspection surveys among the commercial seed producers in New Zealand. This network will be used to map the likely pathways and identify the resources at risk and the suitability for pest establishment using epidemiological network models.
It is expected the successful candidate will be based at Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand but there will be an expectation for work at other centres in New Zealand, especially AgResearch at the Ruakura Research Station near Hamilton. Besides their own research, the PhD fellow will attend courses and workshops in relevant transferable skills like scientific writing and project management, as well as participate in our biennial Bio-Protection symposium, weekly seminar series and group meetings. The PhD student will receive individual supervision and mentoring and is guided in her/his research work by a PhD advisory committee (Hampton, Hulme, Buddenhagen & Rolston).
Applicants for this project are expected to have a MSc in a relevant area and hold an honours degree, or equivalent, in ecology, geography, agriculture or related area, preferably with interest in spatial ecology, modelling and/or invasion biology. Some experience of using social network analysis tools or programming in R/Python/C++ would be an advantage. The position is open to applicants of any nationality, provided they are fluent in English, able to obtain a student visa and eligible for admission to the PhD program at Lincoln University.
Applications should include evidence of qualifications and research experience, together with a curriculum vitae and contact details of two academic referees. Applications should be supported by a cover letter that states why the candidate is interested in the PhD and how their qualifications would map onto the proposed research.
The scholarship provides an annual stipend of NZD$28,000 a year tax- free, covers full university fees and includes up to approximately NZD$5,000 additional support a year towards operating expenses. The PhD will be run through the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University, New Zealand. Supervision will be provided by Professors John Hampton and Philip Hulme in collaboration with scientists at AgResearch (Chris Buddenhagen) and the Foundation for Arable Research (Phil Rolston). The duration of the scholarship is three years.