Research Fellow | School of Environment

  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Full-time
  • UoA Department Name: Environment
  • Campus: Auckland City Campus
  • Contract Type: Fixed-Term
  • Position Number: 55566706

Company Description

The Faculty of Science at the University of Auckland is the leading science faculty in New Zealand and one of the largest in Australasia and undertakes world-class research across the physical, biological and computational sciences.

Te Kura Mātai Taiao, the School of Environment, is home to a vibrant group of students, academics and professional staff pursuing diverse interests in the social and natural worlds. Along with our internationally recognised disciplinary programmes in Geography, Geology, Geophysics and Geographical Information Science, we offer interdisciplinary programmes in Earth Science, Environmental Management, Environmental Science and Environmental Change.

Job Description

The opportunity | Te Whiwhinga mahi

We are looking for a Research Fellow to work in collaboration with Dr Michael E. Martin on a project building a prototype of a Spatial Data Sovereignty tool. The project will involve both designing and building a state-of-the-art web architecture and interface to mask, encrypt, and notarize spatial data.

The project has a special interest in protecting indigenous data, specifically as it relates to forest biodiversity data. It comes at a particularly important moment for Aotearoa New Zealand, as there has been a surge in biodiversity challenges that require diverse datasets to be integrated into analysis – often containing sensitive and indigenous knowledge.

The Biological Heritage National Science Challenge is currently developing a national data infrastructure to collate data from a wide variety of stakeholders and Māori mana whenua to link the data back to the rohe (defined land area), as owners. This project is supported by and is situated alongside this infrastructure, as a ‘first client’.

This project, while embedded in this context, is designed to be transferable beyond that scope and it is anticipated that there will be commercialization opportunities to explore at its conclusion.

The goal of the project is to ensure that it is not only a singular and bespoke tool, but also works for social-good and practical commercial usage.

For more information on this role, please review the POSITION DESCRIPTION

This is a 2 year fixed term contract.


He kōrero mōu | About you

Our ideal candidate will have a PhD submitted by the time this project starts. You will have scope to shape this project and will be expected to carry out all activities related to the project which will include academic publications and short articles for non-academic audiences expected from the project’s funders.

The role may include a small amount of ad hoc research assistance for the project leaders therefore prior knowledge of data sovereignty is valuable, but not essential provided you can bring transferable knowledge of data obfuscation and design of full-stack applications.

Nga Pūkenga Motuhake | Important Skills

  • Experience implementing state-of-the-art digital tools
  • Experience contributing to international research discussions through design and implementation of novel techniques
  • Knowledge of computer science and geospatial literature that could benefit the project (such as but not limited to data notarization, user centered and agile design, geographic information science, data infrastructures, and/or encryption techniques)
  • Experience publishing in geographic and/or data centered journals
  • Ability to write for non-academic publications (such as industry publications and popular media)
  • Full-stack development experience including database design, server-side and client-side scripting, interface development, and, though not essential, API architecture
  • Ability to communicate and build rapport with research participants from diverse backgrounds (such as public sector, business, consultancies)
  • Ability to work effectively under minimal supervision

Additional Information

What we offer | Ngā āhuatanga kei a mātou

We offer an opportunity within New Zealand’s leading University that will have a positive impact on the lives of students. We also offer:

  • Five weeks’ annual leave per annum.
  • Up to 6.75% employer superannuation contribution.
  • Over 300 different career development courses and programmes.
  • Discounted parking and various leisure and recreation services.
  • A diverse and inclusive working environment.

For more information please visit Staff Benefits.

How to apply | Me pēhea te tuku tono

Applications must be submitted online, by the closing date of 3rd March 2021 to be considered.

Please direct any inquiries about the position to Michael Martin,

Applications are to include: (1) a cover letter (max. two pages) discussing the applicant’s suitability for the role with reference to each of the ‘skills and experience’ criteria above, (2) a portfolio of (max. 1 pages with short descriptions and link to web page if applicable) of previously delivered technical projects, (3) two samples of academic writing (journal articles or PhD thesis (4) an academic CV, and (5) contact details of two referees. Applications will be reviewed as they arrive. Permission will be sought from applicants before their referees are contacted. Skype interviews may be conducted. All applicants will be notified of the outcome as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, there is limited scope to cover relocation costs.

In accordance with our commitment to equitable recruitment, the University welcomes applications from all suitably qualified and experienced candidates. In response to COVID-19 the New Zealand Government has imposed a travel ban and are currently only allowing New Zealand Residents, Citizens and visa holders meeting a strict exception policy to enter the country, all of whom must currently enter Government approved quarantine for two weeks on arrival.

It is uncertain when these border restrictions will change, and this may impact the degree to which an off-shore candidate can engage in the interview process; or be available to commence in a new position. For more information and updates on the border restrictions visit the Immigration New Zealand website or the New Zealand Government’s official Covid-19 website.

The University is committed to meeting its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi and achieving equity outcomes for staff and students in a safe, inclusive and equitable environment. For further information on services for Māori, Pacific, women, LGBTQITakatāpui+, people with disabilities, parenting support, flexible work and other equity issues go to