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PhD scholarship for developing real time analysis of marine biomass

A postgraduate research opportunity at the University of Otago.


Academic background
Host campus
Professor Keith Gordon


This research project is part of an MBIE program, Cyber Physical Seafood Systems (Cyber-Marine) led by Plant and Food Research. It will investigate fundamental and applied aspects of marine biological chemistry using a wide range of standard (GC-MS, LC-MS) and spectroscopic (Raman, IR and NIR spectroscopies) analytical techniques. Applied research will focus on determining the extent to which homogenised marine biomass composition can be determined from in-line measurements; and on developing sensors for real-time monitoring of processing and purification of marine products e.g. marine lipids, collagens and protein hydrolysates. Fundamental aspects of this project will include characterisation of vibrational spectroscopic properties of marine lipids in different formats; and developing methods for production and characterisation of lipid assemblies with variable compositions.

Transformation of Aotearoa’s Seafood Industry demands fully optimised use of all aquacultured and sustainably caught marine organisms, not just the meat but every valuable molecule. To achieve this, we need to invent automated multi-operation flexible factories, able to react not only to complex, variable biological raw materials but also market-drivers, allowing tailoring of process operations for best resource use.

We will address two of the biggest scientific and technological hurdles for global progression to ‘Industry 4.0’ bio-manufacturing (and apply to marine biomass): (1) Development of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-integrated sensor systems capable of defining composition of highly-variable feedstreams in real-time to direct processing choices; and (2) Concurrent/consecutive extraction of proteins, polar lipids and non-polar lipids from complex biomass such that all molecules retain their functionality. This PhD project will contribute to overcoming technology hurdle (1).


A degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Engineering, or Physical sciences

Scholarship expected to start by early 2021. Hence, the student needs to be based in New Zealand, or be allowed to enter the country by then.

Meet the eligibility criteria to be enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Otago

How to apply


To be considered for this scholarship, please include the following documents in your application:

  • CV, transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Cover letter describing your research interests and plan


Professor Keith Gordon