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PhD project modelling socio-ecological systems in coastal areas and oceans

University of Auckland

PhD project modelling socio-ecological systems in coastal areas and oceans

Building on growing research in linking ecological and social science involving School of Environment, Institute of Marine Research and the Joint Graduate School of Coastal and Marine Science (UoA and NIWA) we offer a PhD scholarship connecting social process modelling to change in coastal ecosystems. The PhD scholarship is funded by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).


This position will build on a wealth of knowledge on coastal ecosystems generated by researchers in NIWA and UoA, and extend current research at the School of Environment linking societal values and preferences to marine ecosystem services.

This research project will identify and quantify key socio-ecological interactions that determine the multiple values of coastal ecosystems and the direction of environmental change. To achieve this integrated analyses of social processes and biophysical processes are required, with explicit and dynamic consideration of the feedbacks that influence system behaviour. Dynamic coupling of socio- ecological processes is a relatively new, but growing area of research. This project will develop rule- based behavioural models in which both social processes and biophysical processes are coded. The models will be used to explore scenarios of environmental futures to provide resource to inform participatory decision making.

Candidates suitable for this position will have proven ability to work across traditional disciplinary boundaries. They should have a BSc Hons or MSc with a substantive research thesis component. We are seeking applicants with a background in social process modelling. Ideal candidates will have research experience with Agent Based Models or System Dynamic Models, or similar. We will select a candidate who is self-motivated, with good verbal and written communication skills, and has an excellent academic record and the technical background necessary to successfully undertake this research.

The School of Environment at the University of Auckland provides an excellent forum for trans- disciplinary research. The School has extensive collaborative research relationships with other academic departments within the University and with other universities both in New Zealand and overseas, and with private and public sector organisations. This research project is trans-disciplinary; candidates will be requires to develop their research against a background of social, economic and ecological sciences. Support for the PhD project includes: a stipend of NZ$24,700 per annum excluding fees (n.b. international PhD students pay the same annual tuition fee as domestic students); a Postgraduate Research Student Support scheme designed to facilitate academic and professional development through conference attendance and short term hosting by relevant science and policy institutions. The advisory team will comprise Professor Simon Thrush, Dr Mark Dickson and Dr Karen Fisher.

How to apply: Potential candidates must have an Honours or Masters degree (or equivalent). The nature of the research project means that candidates from a variety of academic backgrounds may be considered. Interested candidates should email a cover letter outlining your background and a CV to Dr Mark Dickson