Applications are invited for a PhD studentship at the University of Auckland, to work on a project modelling and understanding the dynamics of spreading processes on multilayer and multiplex networks.

There is growing understanding that spreading processes on real-world networks are typically moderated or influenced by additional factors, which themselves occur on networks and with feedback loops between the processes on the two networks. These dual spreading processes can occur either across a single node set with multiple edge types (multiplex networks), or multiple distinct node sets, with different edge types within and between the node sets (multilayer networks).

This project aims to understand how the outcomes of spreading processes are affected by the multilayer and multiplex network structures and by different network topologies arising in different applications, for example, by considering how behavioural dynamics can affect contagion in networks of epidemic spread.

You will combine mathematical modelling and dynamical systems methods with practical applications using concrete data to understand the role of social factors in epidemic spread, and to investigate the dynamics of these processes.


We are happy to consider students from a diverse range of fields including mathematics, engineering, physics, computer science and statistics. At a minimum, some university level mathematics is expected, as is some level of familiarity with scientific computation. An interest in epidemiology will be an advantage for this project, but no prior knowledge is required. The successful candidate will hold, or expect to complete soon, a masters degree, or similar, in their disciplinary area.

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


You will be based at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and will be jointly supervised by Dr Dion O’Neale (Department of Physics) and Associate Professor Claire Postlethwaite (Department of Mathematics).

The PhD position will be embedded within Te Pūnaha Matatini, the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence for Complex Systems. Te Pūnaha Matatini brings together ‘many faces’ – different disciplines, ways of thought, methods, and crucially, people – to define, and then solve, society’s thorny interconnected problems.

The expertise of our researchers spans the breadth of human knowledge, from computational sciences to environmental economics, and from linguistics to Indigenous philosophy to mathematical biology. This deeply transdisciplinary approach characterises Te Pūnaha Matatini and is unique within the New Zealand research system; it carries methods, approaches, and tools over from one discipline to another, and in doing so, develops integrated and transformative insights.


Informal enquiries are welcome by email:

Financial details

  • Full tuition fees
  • Stipend of NZ$28,800 per year (tax free)

Start date

Start date is flexible but would preferably be between August and December 2022.

How to apply

Interested candidates should send an email expressing their interest, along with a CV, academic record, and list of three potential referees to Claire Postlethwaite at

Due date

Applications will be considered until the position is filled. Applications received by 30 June 2022 will receive full consideration.