Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

The OMNI Electron Microscopy Student Research Award


The OMNI Electron Microscopy Student Research Award is intended to advance the initiation of new research projects that utilize electron microscopy, and thereby:

  • Promote utilisation of available electron microscopy capabilities
  • Advance research projects that can attract external funding
  • Establish and implement novel approaches and techniques that utilise electron microscopy

It is awarded twice each year.

Award prize

The award enables free utilisation of electron microscopy equipment (excluding consumables) for up to 15 hours (high-voltage time). The entitlement must be used within a year.



  • All undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled at the University of Otago for the duration of the one-year time limit the award spans, are entitled to apply
  • The student must have the support of a supervisor located within the University of Otago. The supervisor is expected to make arrangements to cover the cost of consumables associated with the award
  • The award should support new research projects and not supplement funded research projects

Closing Dates

Two awards will be made each year with application closing dates:

  • 1 April
  • 1 September

Terms and Conditions

Both the applicant and their supervisor must understand and agree to the Terms and Conditions before an application is submitted. Failure to do so may make you ineligible for the award.

Within one year of receiving the award the student must submit a report to OMNI Electron Microscopy.

Previous winners of the Electron Microscopy Student Research Award

Jonathon Braun

Department of Physiology, supervised by Associate Professor Grant Butt, Dr Michael Schultz and Dr Jaqui Keenan

Jonathon Braun used transmission electron microscopy (TEM) in his project titled Does the development of a glycocalyx with differentiation into a confluent monolayer impair internalisation of bacterial outer membrane vesicle by Caco-2 cells?

Original and recent studies of outer membrane vesicles (OMV) from Gram negative bacteria by intestinal epithelial cells have employed single epithelial cells. However, a comparison of the internalisation of OMV by single undifferentiated epithelial cells and confluent fully differentiated monolayers shows a marked reduction in the extent of internalisation following differentiation. Jonathon proposed that this is due to the development of the glycocalyx on the surface of the differentiated epithelial cells. Using TEM will expose the relationship between the development of the glycocalyx on differentiating Caco-2 cells and the impaired OMV entry.

Christophe Dumas

Supervised by Dr Carla Meledandri, Department of Chemistry

Controlled-size unilamellar liposomes produced using freeze fracture Transmission Electron Microscopy image
Controlled-size unilamellar liposomes produced using freeze fracture Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) © Christophe Dumas.

Christophe's project was Development and characterisation of multifunctional nanomaterials for drug delivery and therapeutic applications. He used freeze fracture TEM and negative staining and has had success using these techniques.

"Thanks to this Award, I was able to characterise several types of gold nanoparticles with different sizes and surface coatings, to visualise liposomes (unilamellar, multilamellar and multivesicular liposomes) and gold-loaded liposome specimens using Negative Staining. As the gold NPs were quite small, the TEM allowed their detection, unlike our DLS instrument in our lab. Moreover, the images of the gold-loaded-liposome proved that the NPs were successfully loaded within the bilayer of the liposome. The gold-loaded-liposomes and empty liposomes were observed at different stages of preparation which gave us important information regarding the efficiency of the method used to synthesise them and how the loading of the NPs within the bilayer of the liposome works."

Christophe produced a poster for the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry.

Danielle Trilford

Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, supervised by Professor Richard Walter

Danielle used electron dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) on the scanning electron microscope to count the growth rings in cockle shells in her project Shell dating—a new method for unraveling problems of time in New Zealand prehistory. EDS is a method used to determine the elemental chemical composition of samples, and can be used to look at the regular banding pattern on shells at a high resolution and even provide information about when storm events occurred by analysing spikes in magnesium. This enabled her to develop a new method of dating archaeological events. She tested this method of archaeological dating on cockles excavated from one of the earliest archaeological sites in New Zealand—an oven feature at Wairau Bar.