Te Pūnaha Matatini Scholarships

Machine learning for medical signals

Machine learning for medical signals

A PhD scholarship is available to support a computer science, mathematics, or similar science graduate to study rich medical data streams associated with ICU (intensive care) patients using the tools of machine learning.

Patients in an ICU are hooked up to a range of sensors, yet much of the waveform data that results is essentially lost, other than snapshots at specific moments. The PhD project is to construct machine learning methods for such waveform data – in particular, generative models built using unsupervised learning. These will facilitate better visualisations of data that is changing, and automated detection of clinically important changes in the waveform without generating excessive false positives.

The project will be carried out under the supervision of Associate Professor Marcus Frean and Professor Stephen Marsland at Victoria University of Wellington. The student will join a larger team within Victoria working on related projects, with input from the clinical team in the ICU at Wellington hospital ensuring we remain linked to the real questions of medical relevance.

Eligibility
Applicants should have a strong numerate background (ideally have a First-Class honours degree in Computer Science, Mathematics, or a similar discipline), and satisfy the University of Victoria’s entry requirements for PhD study.

Total value
The three-year scholarship covers PhD tuition fees for a domestic or international student plus a non-taxed living allowance of NZ$27,300 per annum. The starting date can be anytime between November 2017 and 1 March 2018.

How to apply
For further information and to apply, please contact:
Associate Professor Marcus Frean
Te Pūnaha Matatini
Victoria University of Wellington
New Zealand
marcus.frean@vuw.ac.nz

Mapping antimicrobial use

Mapping antimicrobial use

Antibiotics are a cornerstone of modern medicine, used to treat infectious diseases and prevent infection in vulnerable humans and animals. A 2014 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that within a decade, antibiotic resistance will make routine surgery, organ transplantation and cancer treatment life-threatening.

In this project, we will build a picture of antibiotic use in New Zealand which includes both human and agricultural use. Such a map will highlight potential breeding grounds for antibiotic resistant bacteria that should help in the development of policies to tackle antibiotic resistance.

The project will be part of Te Pūnaha Matatini (TPM), which is the New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence for Complex Systems, Data and Networks, and will be co-supervised by TPM investigators with various backgrounds. Student background and interest could determine some directions for the project, which will be located at the University of Auckland.

Eligibility
This project would suit either a mathematician/computer scientist with an interest in infectious diseases, or a microbiologist/molecular biologist with an interest in computing. Some fieldwork may be involved. Applicants will need to meet the eligibility criteria for the University of Auckland.

Total value
The three-year scholarship covers PhD tuition fees (for a domestic or international student) and a stipend of NZ$27,300 per annum.

How to apply
For more information contact and to apply, please contact:
Dr Siouxsie Wiles
University of Auckland
New Zealand
s.wiles@auckland.ac.nz

The science of science funding

The science of science funding

A PhD scholarship is available for supporting a mathematics, computer science, economics or theoretically inclined physics graduate to study the science of science funding.

Are public research funding mechanisms effective or not? This project involves developing econometric models of the research process that include researchers and projects, with measures of:

  • team formation, by looking at the evolution of collaborations using network analysis;
  • effects of public funding on research outputs, by comparing funded and unfunded projects, controlling for selection bias using referee scores and other evaluation measures;
  • research impact, by linking identified funded projects and researchers to appropriate metrics and indicators of impact.

The PhD project will be carried out under the supervision of Prof Shaun Hendy at the University of Auckland and Dr Adam Jaffe at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, as part of Te Punaha Matatini, which is the New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence for Complex Systems, Data and Networks.

Eligibility
Applicants should ideally have a First-Class Honours degree in Mathematics, Computer Science, Economics, or Physics (or an equivalent 4-year degree qualification) and satisfy the University of Auckland’s entry requirements for PhD study.

Total value
The three-year scholarship covers PhD tuition fees plus a non-taxable living allowance of NZ$27,300 per annum. The starting date can be anytime from 1 November 2017.

How to apply
For further information and to apply, please contact:
Prof Shaun Hendy
Te Pūnaha Matatini
University of Auckland
New Zealand
shaun.hendy@auckland.ac.nz

Modelling effects of individual heterogeneity on emergent population characteristics

Modelling effects of individual heterogeneity on emergent population characteristics

There is a growing recognition that, like humans, animals show consistent variation in behaviour among individuals, often described as ‘personality’. Factors driving these behavioural differences could be environmental (e.g. habitat, predation pressure or social environment) or intrinsic (e.g. physiological differences). In wildlife populations, ‘shyness’ has been observed in individuals living in high-risk environments, while individuals at invasion fronts often exhibit increased aggression, activity and boldness.

This individual heterogeneity can have important consequences for population-level processes and ecological interactions. It can determine, for example, how populations respond to disturbance, the success of reintroductions for endangered species, or the harvesting and control of wildlife populations.

This project will develop new mathematical models to explore (1) how consistent inter-individual heterogeneity in behaviour, i.e. different ‘personalities’, affects the emergent behaviour of a population, (2) the role of social interactions in driving behavioural differences, and 3) what effect the timescale over which a personality is consistently observed (e.g. a few days or an entire lifetime) has for the population dynamics. Throughout the project, the student will work with researchers with expertise in ecology and biology to apply these models to real ecological datasets for particular case studies.

The project will be part of Te Pūnaha Matatini, a New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence for complex systems and networks. The student will be based in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Canterbury under the supervision of Dr Rachelle Binny (Landcare Research), Associate Professor Michael Plank, Associate Professor Alex James (University of Canterbury) and Associate Professor Isabel Castro (Massey University).

Eligibility
Applicants should have a strong numerate background (e.g. first degree in mathematics, statistics, physics, computer science or engineering) and an interest in biology, and satisfy the University of Canterbury’s entry requirements for PhD study. However, candidates with a background in ecology or biology may be considered provided they have sufficient skills in mathematics, statistics or computer science. Experience working with ecological datasets will also be useful.

Total value
The three-year scholarship covers PhD tuition fees for a domestic or international student plus a non-taxed living allowance of NZ$27,300 per annum. The starting date can be anytime between 1 November 2017 and 1 March 2018.

How to apply
For further information and to apply, please contact:
Dr Rachelle Binny
Landcare Research
New Zealand
binnyr@landcareresearch.co.nz

or

Associate Professor Michael Plank
School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Canterbury
New Zealand
michael.plank@canterbury.ac.nz

The nature and implications of urban job networks

The nature and implications of urban job networks

This scholarship forms part of the broader work of the Te Pūnaha Matatini Complex Economic and Social Networks research theme. More specifically, the scholarship is linked to a programme of work on economic geography, investigating the impacts of spatial and network proximity. The scholarship will be located at either the University of Auckland (UoA) or Victoria University of Wellington (VUW).

The doctoral work will analyse the nature and implications of job networks within and between New Zealand cities. The movement of employees between firms provides a potential channel for flows of knowledge and ideas, and a mechanism for establishing personal and organisational connections. The student will document key statistical properties of the job flow network, and investigate the contribution that network links make to firm performance and worker earnings. Firm performance would be captured by measures such as profitability, productivity, research and development rates, innovation rates, or exporting behaviour.

The supervisory team is multi-disciplinary and from multiple institutions. The student will be enrolled at either UoA or VUW and will work under the supervision of Dr Isabelle Sin (Economics; VUW and Motu Research), Dr Dion O’Neale (Physics; UoA) and Dr David Maré (Economics; Motu Research).

Eligibility
The applicant should have a first class or high second class Honours or Master’s degree in a relevant scientific and quantitative discipline (eg. economics, applied mathematics, physics), strong mathematical and programming skills, and a strong interest in economic geography, and social and economic networks. The applicant will start their PhD enrolment by March 2018, though could start any time from 1 November 2017.

Total value
There is one scholarship, which is tenable for three years and will pay for tuition fees (for a domestic or international student) and a stipend of $27,300 per annum.

How to apply
For further information and to apply, please contact:
Dr David Maré
Motu Research
dave.mare@motu.org.nz

What conditions are attached to acceptance of this Award?
Applicants must have the entry requirements for a PhD and will have to be accepted as a PhD student in either UoA or VUW.

Networks

Networks

Networks can be used to describe many ways that humans (and many other agents) interact, enabling researchers to identify potential disease spread on a network of people meeting, or identify groups of neurons that perform some cognitive task and so are linked together in a brain, or make efficient supply chains for companies that manufacture objects from components made by other companies.

Many interesting networks have been identified as having useful structure, such as the surprising number of people with huge numbers of friends on Facebook (who turn the network into a ‘scale-free’ network) and the short paths that exist between parts of the brain that seem unconnected, making it act as a ‘small world’.

In this project, we will ask two important and related questions about these networks: (1) what are the underlying reasons for these extra features, and (2) how can we utilise them to produce more efficient algorithms on networks of these types? For example, a scale-free network has nodes of very high degree (hubs) and so routing algorithms that produce short paths can be made by connecting nodes to hubs, which connect to other hubs, which then connect to the destination node. However, if the hubs are deluged with traffic, this might become inefficient. We will study these questions for a variety of real-world complex networks, such as biological networks, human interactions, and digital humanities.

Eligibility
The project will suit an applied mathematician interested in algorithms. The successful applicant will have the chance to work with a variety of researchers across Te Pūnaha Matatini with interest in several different areas of application as well as the underlying theory.

Total value
The three-year scholarship covers PhD tuition fees plus a non-taxed living allowance of NZ$27,300 per annum. The starting date can be anytime from 1 November 2017.

How to apply
For further information and to apply, please contact:
Prof Stephen Marsland
School of Engineering & Advanced Technology
Massey University, Palmerston North
New Zealand
S.R.Marsland@massey.ac.nz

Birdsong recognition from automatic recorders

Birdsong recognition from automatic recorders

Identifying birds from their calls is potentially extremely useful, since birds call far more often than they are seen. However, the birds rarely call close to the microphone and there are lots of other sounds (including wind and rain) that are also recorded.

The challenge is to reliably recognise the bird calls under these conditions and to infer the approximate number of birds present in an area from the number of calls. This requires a combination of signal processing, machine learning, study of individual bird species, and statistical analysis.

Eligibility
This PhD project will contribute in some of these areas as part of the AviaNZ project. It would suit either a mathematician/computer scientist with an interest in ecology, or an ecologist with an interest in computing. Some fieldwork with New Zealand species of birds, such as kiwis, will be involved.

Total value
The three-year scholarship covers PhD tuition fees plus a non-taxed living allowance of NZ$27,300 per annum. The starting date can be anytime from 1 November 2017.

How to apply
For further information and to apply, please contact:
Prof Stephen Marsland
School of Engineering & Advanced Technology
Massey University, Palmerston North
New Zealand
S.R.Marsland@massey.ac.nz

 

 

 

PhD Scholarships

PhD Scholarships

Te Pūnaha Matatini is offering a wide variety of PhD Scholarship opportunities starting as early as November 2017.

Click on the links below for more details on these scholarships and how to apply:

  1. Econophysics
  2. Managing climate change risks by finding tipping points
  3. Investigating prioritisation strategies and effects in patient pathways
  4. Birdsong recognition from automatic recorders
  5. Networks
  6. The nature and implications of urban job networks
  7. Modelling effects of individual heterogeneity on emergent population characteristics
  8. The science of science funding
  9. Mapping antimicrobial use
  10. Machine learning for medical signals

 

Managing climate change risks by finding tipping points

Managing climate change risks by finding tipping points

The development of human civilisation over the past 10,000 has benefited from the most stable climate observable in the geological record. Growing evidence suggests that climate change impacts are already observable and will accelerate in the future, potentially combining with other global change factors to push ecosystems and agriculture toward “tipping points”.

This PhD project will develop and assess data science techniques to detect tipping points and regime shifts using algorithms, such as Fisher information, applied to diverse time-series and spatial data. Emphasis will be placed on identifying overlapping cascades of tipping points that should be considered for dynamic policy and management scenarios.

The project will be part of Te Pūnaha Matatini (TPM), which is the New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence for Complex Systems, Data and Networks and will be co-supervised by TPM investigators with environmental, economic and mathematics backgrounds. Student background and interest could determine some directions for the project, which will be located at either the University of Auckland or the University of Waikato.

Eligibility
Applicants should have a first-class or high second-class Honours or Masters level qualification in a relevant scientific and quantitative discipline, and ideally some experience with ecological, agricultural, or economic datasets. Interest and exposure to policy, management or operations research is also desirable.

Total value
The three-year scholarship covers PhD tuition fees (for a domestic or international student) and a stipend of NZ$27,300 per annum.

How to apply
For more information contact and to apply, please contact:
Dr Troy Baisden
Professor and BOPRC Chair in Lake and Freshwater Science
University of Waikato
troy.baisden@waikato.ac.nz

Investigating prioritisation strategies and effects in patient pathways

Investigating prioritisation strategies and effects in patient pathways

Patient pathways are complex, involving many steps and the use of resources that are often limited, e.g., surgical teams, or required by many different pathways, e.g., imaging and diagnostics. Prioritising one patient pathway’s access to a resource may have adverse effects for other pathways that also need that resource.

Determining effective prioritisation strategies for patients requires modelling of the complexity of patient pathways, their use of resources, and the effect of different prioritisation strategies. It also requires the consideration of appropriate metrics, in order to define a “good” prioritisation strategy. One of our particular interests is in accumulating priority queues where both acuity and waiting time contribute to a patient’s priority.

Feasible accumulation rates can be chosen to satisfy specified performance objectives for each class, where the objectives are in terms of percentage of patients seen within a prespecified time (metrics common to several health systems, including those in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand). However, such objectives may incentivise bad behaviour, particularly, the “dropping” of patients who have breached the threshold. There is, therefore, also the question of what are the “right” metrics for patient pathways.

This project will develop a portfolio of possible metrics for health care provision and within each metric, develop analytical methods for modelling the system performance and optimising patient flows. The aim of this work is to provide recommendations on prioritisation of patients, both tactical (how to route) and policy-based (how to measure) for patient pathways.

Eligibility
This project requires a strong mathematical background, with knowledge of probability and stochastic processes.

Total value
The three-year scholarship covers PhD tuition fees plus a non-taxed living allowance of NZ$27,300 per annum. The starting date can be anytime from 1 November 2017.

How to apply
For further information and to apply, please contact:
Associate Professor Ilze Ziedins
Department of Statistics
University of Auckland
New Zealand
i.ziedins@auckland.ac.nz