Department of Physics

FP7 PLASMON PhD Student Position

PhD Student position available in the Space Physics Group, Physics Department, University of Otago, New Zealand

This position has now been filled. Thankyou for your interest!

The Space Physics group at the Physics Department, University of Otago has a funded PhD student position available. The position is funded through the European Union FP7 project "A new, ground based data-assimilative modeling of the Earth's plasmasphere - a critical contribution to Radiation Belt modeling for Space Weather purposes". This project includes multiple institutions worldwide, including Europe, the USA, South Africa and New Zealand. The student's research will be part of a work package inside this project, under the supervision of Associate Professor Craig J. Rodger. The PhD student is intended to start from 1 August 2011 and the position will remain open until it is filled.

The project will investigate the precipitation of energetic electrons from the Van Allan radiation belts into the atmosphere and their dependence upon changing plasmaspheric properties. In particular the project will use data from both space based and ground based instruments to characterise precipitation events to determine the typical range of properties. The study will be conducted at the University of Otago in strong collaboration with the work package leader from the British Antarctic Survey (Cambridge, UK). It is possible that the project will involve a period visiting the British Antarctic Survey, and may also involve instrument maintenance trips in Antarctica and/or the Arctic. This research impacts two very important fields, "space weather" and the improved understanding of how the Sun affects the atmosphere and climate of the Earth.

Information on the group can be found at its webpage:

Note that an important part of the project will be exploiting data from AARDDVARK network. More information on this network can be found here:  


QUALIFICATIONS: Candidates should have received a master's degree in science or engineering, or a similar degree at an equivalent academic level, at the start of the PhD project. A candidate is sought with good background in physics with experience in computational modelling and electromagnetism. The ideal candidate would be proficient in Matlab and also have experience in Space Physics, Ionospheric, Upper Atmospheric and/or Geophysics.

APPROVAL and ENROLMENT:  The study will be under the University of Otago PhD programme, and the scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval. For information about the requirements for enrolment and the general planning of PhD study at the University of Otago see

SCHOLARSHIP:  The successful PhD student will be awarded a University of Otago Prestigious Doctoral Scholarship. This scholarship provides NZ$25,000 for each of three years, plus the payment of University of Otago tuition fees for 3-years (but excluding sundry fees and insurance). Only candidates that can meet the requirements of the Prestigious Doctoral Scholarship (for example a minium A average) will be considered for the PhD studentship.

ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO: Otago University is the oldest University in New Zealand (established 1869), with roughly twenty one thousand students and its main campus located in Dunedin in the South Island. The University of Otago has an international reputation for research excellence and is New Zealand's top-ranked university for research quality. Further information on the Physics Department can be found at its webpage, and more information on the Space Physics group can be found at their webpage.

APPLICATION PROCESS: Candidates should initially contact Assoc. Prof. Craig Rodger to express interest and apply for the position. Applicants will need a full CV and academic transcript demonstrating that their existing record meets the requirements of the Prestigious Doctoral Scholarship. The student who is selected for the position will then go through the normal enrolment process for PhD study at the University of Otago.

Applications should include only the following:

1.Full Academic CV    2. Academic Transcript    3. Academic References (supervisors of MSc/Honours research project required)

Motivational, Aspiration or Philosophical statements are not to be included. Candidates should be prepared to provide electronic versions of their MSc/Honours research project thesis on request.


This position has now been filled. Thankyou for your interest!

FURTHER INFORMATION on the project: Contact Assoc. Prof. Craig J Rodger. For further information on the PhD Programme  at Otago University, please contact the Doctoral and Scholarships Office.