Cawthron Foundation Summer Student Scholarships


Cawthron Foundation Summer Student Scholarships

Opportunities for undergraduate students to work with Cawthron scientists to develop the skills and knowledge needed to solve pressing environmental issues.

Students will undertake fieldwork, analysis techniques and learn what it means to work as a professional scientist.

Open to undergraduate students enrolled at a New Zealand Tertiary institution who have successfully completed a first year of study, and are a New Zealand citizen or resident.

Sir Theodore Rigg scholarship Algal Performance – male or female undergraduate students, $5000.

Kathleen Curtis scholarship Greenshell Mussels – female undergraduate students, $5000.

Te Pītau Whakarei Karahipi  Scampi Aquaculture– Maori undergraduate students, $5500, offered in partnership with Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.

10 weeks work between November 2018 and February 2019, Nelson based.

A cover letter, addressed to the Human Resources Advisor, CV and letter of recommendation from tertiary institution are required.

Applicants should indicate which of the following projects they would like to be considered for and if applying for more than one project, list them in preference order. 

Applications close: 5 August 2018



Incorporating measures of algal performance into processes of deciding whether algae is good for use as feed

Objective:  Shellfish hatchery production and research is dependent on reliable high quality algal food production. Over the past twenty years we have established practice on how to feed aquaculture species but there are still gaps in knowledge about “what constitutes good food” and “how else to assess algal quality immediately prior feeding” in a rapid reliable way. This project will investigate how the use of techniques such as flow cytometry and Pulsed Amplitude Modulation fluorescence (PAM) can contribute to this. The expected outcome is more resilient algal supply for aquaculture feed.

Pulsed Amplitude Modulation Fluorescence is a technique to interrogate many parameters of photosynthetic activity of plants/algae. Some of these parameters can be used as proxies of algal heath. The aim of this project is to calibrate measurements of parameters of algal health to different algae grown in different ways as larval shellfish food to identify those that can be used to guide decision making on whether to use algae as feed.

Study requirements: Experience using a microscope and computer literate.

Special requirements: NZ Drivers licence.


Understanding losses of Greenshell™ mussels in aquaculture

Objective:  To determine the underlying causes of secondary settlement behaviour in juvenile mussels and how they impact the success of mussel aquaculture. The student will carry out laboratory-based experiments to test the effects of factors including stocking density and mussel health on the behaviour and survival of juvenile mussels. Importantly, this study will assess how behaviour and survival vary among hatchery-reared juvenile mussels of different ages (8 – 16 weeks). This research aim has direct relevance to process of seeding mussels into aquaculture.

Background: The productivity of New Zealand’s most important aquaculture sector, the production of Greenshell™ (Perna canaliculus) mussels, is currently impacted by massive losses of seed mussels. These losses represent an enormous inefficiency in the aquaculture process and have been a significant constraint on industry growth. Recent research has indicated that losses of juvenile mussels could be due to a behavioural process known as secondary settlement through which the juveniles can select among habitats. However, the biological and ecological causes of this behaviour have received little scientific attention and are presently far from understood.

Study requirements: Biological sciences.

Special requirements: NZ drivers licence; Enthusiasm and attention to detail, and flexibility as the work will often involve long and unusual working hours.


Scampi Aquaculture and Potting

Objective: Aquaculture:  To identify whether adult scampi, during a choice experiment, seek refuge in a single burrow or choose to stay in the open with other animals. We will investigate differences in preference between males, females, and a mixed male/female group. Potting: Outcomes of this project will help to better understand the behavioural ecology of this species and provide new knowledge on optimal growing conditions and animal welfare for aquaculture.

Background: NZ Scampi, a deep-sea lobster is highly valued on global food markets and are currently captured using seabed trawling. Cawthron has a large research programme, in partnership with the Māori-owned Waikawa Fishing Company (WFC), aimed at enhancing the environmental performance of the fishery, in line with kaitiakitanga aspirations. There are two parts to the research: aquaculture of scampi, and development of potting techniques as an alternative to trawling. The student will interact with WFC, to learn about fishing innovation that originates from Mātauranga Māori, and will gain aquaculture and potting research experience. The project will begin with a hui to gather insights for experimental design, and finish with a hui to present research findings.

Study requirements: NCEA credits in biology preferred. Methodical approach to work, attention to detail and persistence. Knowledge of Microsoft office.

Special requirements: NZ drivers licence, Māori student






Job no: GFAP82222

Location: Nelson - Halifax Street

Closing Date: Sunday 5 August 2018