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Plant-insect interactions: Selecting pest-tolerant eucalypt breeds for New Zealand Forestry

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The New Zealand Dryland Forests Initiative (NZDFI) is breeding elite eucalypt species to produce high-value, naturally ground-durable (not requiring chemical treatment) timber in dryland regions of New Zealand. As insect pests of eucalypts continue to arrive from Australia, it is essential to protect this industry from future biological risk by selecting eucalypt species and breeds that are the most pest-tolerant.

We are offering a 3 year PhD scholarship at the University of Canterbury that will inform the eucalypt selection process by investigating the interactions between insect pests and the chemical and physical foliar properties of eucalypt breeds being grown in field trials with different microclimates across dryland regions of New Zealand. The research focus may include;
• Assessing links between pest tolerance, tree genetics, foliar chemistry & wood properties
• Evaluating pest host-preferences and impacts
• Understanding the influence of environmental conditions on foliar chemistry and plant-insect interactions
• Developing remote sensing tools to predict pest tolerance and assess forest health

The ideal applicant will have a GPA of 7.0 (A-) or higher, a four-year bachelor degree with first class honours or a Master’s degree in an entomology, ecology or chemical ecology related field. Candidates must have a valid driver’s licence and be willing to undertake field work.

The scholarship is available from 1 July 2018 (start date negotiable). Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

Applications must include:
• A full Curriculum Vitae, INCLUDING your University transcript (i.e. list of grades).
• The names of at least two people who can act as referees.
• A statement of your research interests and when you could begin your PhD research.
• Evidence of English language proficiency. If English is not your first language, international applicants must meet the University’s
English language requirements (e.g. IELTS ≥ 6.5; TOEFEL ≥ 90). See for details.

The University of Canterbury is located in Christchurch, a small city in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand. The city’s central location in the South Island gives easy access to both coasts as well as the Southern Alps and a range of other unique environments.

Funding Notes

The available scholarship covers full university fees and a stipend of $22,000 p.a. for three years. Cover for cost of travel to New Zealand for a successful international applicant will be considered.

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