Applications are invited for a fully funded masters scholarship to explore public mistrust in science in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Liberal democracies are currently experiencing an anti-science backlash. There is a proliferation of ‘fake news’, and algorithm-driven newsfeeds reinforce people’s biases. At the same time a declining pool of trained science journalists is matched by a rise in science PR. Increasingly, people don’t know who or what to believe.

In this project, you will investigate how anti-science groups in Aotearoa New Zealand use the language, markers, and tools of science and technology to establish credibility and promote their messages.

You will work on tracking the spread of disinformation on science-related topics through the news media and identifying anti-science communities, key influencers and online amplifiers of anti-science messages for further study.


You will need to be in New Zealand and meet the requirements for a one-year Master of Science by thesis at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. Your background could be in number of disciplines, including but not limited to science in society; statistics and data science; computer science; media studies; communications; science communication; history or philosophy.

Depending on your background, strengths and interests, your work may include reading online sources, quantitative and qualitative textual analysis, network analysis, sentiment analysis, and summarising different research strands.

Applicants from all backgrounds are actively encouraged to apply. Members of underrepresented groups are very welcome, as are students with families. Our research team aims to achieve work-life balance within a productive research environment.


You will be based at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. You will be jointly supervised by Professor Richard Arnold (School of Mathematics and Statistics) and Associate Professor Rebecca Priestley (Centre for Science in Society). You will also have the opportunity to work with Kate Hannah and other disinformation researchers.

You will be part of Te Pūnaha Matatini, the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence for Complex Systems. Te Pūnaha Matatini brings together different disciplines, ways of thought, methods, and people to define and solve society’s thorny interconnected problems.


Informal enquiries are welcome by email:

Financial details

  • Full tuition fees
  • Stipend of NZ$17,000 (tax free)

Start date

Start date is flexible but would preferably be March 2022 (up until June 2022 by negotiation).

How to apply

Send an email expressing your interest, along with a CV, academic record, and list of three potential referees to

Due date

Applications will be considered until the position is filled. Applications received by 20 January 2022 will receive full consideration.