PhD position on Coastal Processes in the Hawkes Bay, New Zealand at the University of Waikato

We have a position available, starting after July 2019, to undertake a PhD at the University of Waikato studying the role of suspended sediment inputs in the Hawke’s Bay region marine environment. The Hawke’s Bay region has ~300 km of coastline and comprises a large (~100 km wide) bay on the North East Coast of New Zealand, which is exposed to discharge events from five main rivers. The catchments drained by these rivers are highly erodible and undergoing forestry and farming, yielding high sediment loads particularly during storm events. Other important sources of suspended sediments are eroding coastal cliffs, minor rivers and streams and beach gravel abrasion.

Understanding the fate and transport of suspended sediments is of crucial importance to managing the ecology of the area. The project entails setting up a numerical model (likely in Delft3D), and using a combination of in situ and satellite observations to calibrate the model, and to inform analysis of processes. Although there is some funding for additional field work, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council have already collected a substantial data base on bed character, bathymetry, and run a continuously water quality monitoring programme in the bay including a buoy. The key question is: what is the footprint of terrestrial sediments in the marine environment, and how does this footprint change in time?

The main supervisor for the project will be Prof Karin Bryan, with the assistance from Assistant Professor Cedric Fichot at Boston University expert on aquatic optics and remote sensing, and Dr Joanne O’Callaghan at NIWA Wellington, who has collected ocean glider data that we can use for the project, and who will help with shelf oceanography and data intepretation. Principal Engineer Jose Beya from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, will also play a strong role in supervision, and we expect the student to be based in Hawke’s Bay during critical field measurement periods.

The conditions of the scholarship will match the University of Waikato Doctoral scholarship, which provides 3 years of funding for stipend and living expenses. In addition, we will cover the costs of standard medical insurance for international candidates.

We are looking for a student who already has numerical modelling experience, but still enjoys and has the fitness and skills required to undertake fieldwork. The successful candidate should provide evidence that they are numerate with an understanding of coastal processes, including waves, hydrodynamics and sediment transport. Past experience using remotely sensed data would be beneficial. To gain entry to the University, the candidate needs a research MSc or BSc (Hons), where the research component (thesis) is more than half a year of their study.

The University of Waikato offers a vibrant research environment, which is close to both coasts (1 hour 10 minutes to the east coast, 40 minutes to the west coast) along with mountain biking and access to the mountains. The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is situated by the sea in a sunny Napier.

We will start interviewing after May 15th, but the position will remain open until June 30th, so please check to see if it has been filled if you are interested after this date.

Email applications to

Posted on: 01/05/2019, by :