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Highly Sought-after Postdoctoral Fellowships And PhD Scholarship Awarded

2022 Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships and a Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship have been awarded to seven early-career researchers in Aotearoa.

Royal Society Te Apārangi has awarded six Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships and one Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship to excellent and passionate early career researchers.

The 2022 recipients will be exploring a diverse range of research topics spanning from research aiming to speed up carbon capture in weathering silicate rocks; investigating slope stability in a changing climate; and linking up Mount John observatory with international telescopes to study exploding supernovas and learn about the history of the universe.

The Rutherford Foundation Fellowships and Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarships seek to build human capability in research, science and technology, including social sciences and the humanities.

The funding opportunities support early career researchers who demonstrate a passion for research and have a strong sense of the purpose and benefits of research to Aotearoa.

Receiving a Rutherford Foundation award is expected to be of significant value in the future career development of the supported scholars and postdoctoral fellows and help them to establish a foundation on which to embark on an independent research career.

“Being able to support passionate and excellent early career researchers to embark on an independent research career is always immensely satisfying, and helps New Zealand develop research capability,” said Royal Society Te Apārangi President Dr Brent Clothier FRSNZ.

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“Although not a specific criterion for the funding, it is also pleasing to note that half of the fellowships in this year’s funding round have been awarded to early career researchers returning to New Zealand after spending time gaining experience and developing international research connections at overseas research organisations. Ultimately, this experience is not only beneficial to the individual researcher but is helping New Zealand to stay connected with the international research community.”

This year six Postdoctoral Fellowships and one Scholarship to undertake PhD studies at the University of Cambridge, UK, have been awarded:

Two-year Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships ($170,000 each)

  • Dr Thomas Corbett, Ngāpuhi (University of Waikato), for research entitled: Microbially enhanced silicate weathering for CO2 sequestration (returning from Uppsala University, Sweden)
  • Dr Bridgette Farnworth (Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology), for research entitled: Exploring the hierarchical impact of artificial light at night on invertebrates: how individual behaviour leads to community change
  • Dr Daniel Gomez Isaza (University of Canterbury), for research entitled: Thermal phenotypic plasticity of New Zealand fishes in response to increased thermal variability (returning from Murdoch University, Perth, Australia)
  • Dr Ryan Ridden-Harper (University of Canterbury), for research entitled: Revealing the mysteries of exploding stars with Ōtehīwai | Mt John Observatory
  • Dr Leena Riekkola (The University of Auckland), for research entitled: Tohorā – southern right whales as a sentinel for ocean change: the past, the present and the future (returned from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, USA)
  • Dr Katherine Yates (University of Canterbury), for research entitled: Seismic slope stability in a changing climate: quantifying the future stability of New Zealand’s loess slopes.

Three-year Cambridge Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship

  • Mr Ben Roberts (Victoria University of Wellington), for research entitled: Leveraging epigenetics for healthy ageing.

The Fellowships are administered by Royal Society Te Apārangi. Support for this programme comes from the New Zealand Government with $910,000 (GST excl.) of annual funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. An additional one-off funding increase of $170,000 was applied by the Ministry for the 2022 funding round. The Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship is additionally supported by the Cambridge Commonwealth, and European and International Trust.

More information on the new Rutherford Foundation recipients awards is available at

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