January 2020


Hi everyone,

Welcome back to another year or welcome to those of you who have just started your graduate studies in 2020. This newsletter is to condense information on what your colleagues are getting up to around the university while also providing a one stop shop for scholarships, workshops, jobs and other information. The idea to to minimise the amount of emails that you receive and make it easier to pick through what information is relevant to you. If you have anything you want to include in the newsletter feel free to flick me an email or to pop into the office (CO358).

I look forward to working with you all again this year.

Thanks, Caitlin

Postgraduate Meeting

The next postgraduate meeting is booked for the 4th March in CO431 from 12pm-1pm. If you have agenda items to include, please send them through to Caitlin.

Faculty Strategic Research Grants

It is coming up to that time of year again - Faculty Strategic Research Grants funding rounds are open again. This round runs for from 1st May to 31st October 2020. If you have a conference or workshop you would like to attend during this time, please make sure you get your application in before the deadline on the 2nd March.

Both Masters and PhD students are eligible for these grants. A Masters student can receive funding for a maximum of one grant; while PhDs can receive up to two grants.

While these grants can be used for both domestic and international events, we encourage you to use them to attend internaitonal events.Please talk to your supervisor regarding conferences and workshops that may be relevant to your studies.

The application form can be found here. In order to complete the application, you will need access to the Grants Management System. If you do not have access, please complete this form and return it to Ginny.

Please note: If you would like a grant for travel outside the aforementioned timeframe, the next funding round deadline is 10th September 2020 covering events and travel from 1st November to 30th April 2020.


At the end of last year Jasmine Hall attended the 42nd Australasian Conference on Combinatorial Mathematics and Combinatorial Computing in Sydney. Jasmine presended her recent joint work with Geoff Whittle about Edge Connectivity in Cubic Graphs, which was well received - "especially as I made a few jokes at the expense of Australians" she remarked. Jasmine also managed to discuss the work with Stephan Thomasse, one of the leaders in Graph Theory, This resulted in useful outreach contacts for thr future. Jasmine said overall it was a great trip to Sydney.

540 Renovation

Renovation on the CO540 graduate space has finally begun. The project started a bit later than anticipated which has resuled in a delayed completion date. Caitlin, Ginny and Ivy are working with Facilities Management to receive an updated timeline. We will keep students in the loop as we receive information on this. We have made arrangements for Statistics and Data Science PhD students to remain where they are currently during this extended renovations period. We have also extended room bookings for MAppStat, MSc Stat and Hons students in CO431 on the current Monday and Tuesday slots through to May.


In early December, SMS was lucky enough to host the Statistics in Ecology and Environmental Monitoring Conference - kicking off two weeks of SMS Conferences to close off 2019 for the department. There were talks from multiple SMS staff, students and alumni; including:
  • Shirley Pledger: The symbiosis between ecologists and statisticans
  • Anthony Charsley: Modelling the probability of capture for New Zealand's longfin eels and shortfin eels
  • Zach Goeden: Liklihood-based clustering of commercial fisheries data
  • Kyuhan Kim: A two stage-structured Schafer model in state-space framework. with application to the Korean pollock population
  • Julius Juodakis: Evaluating acoustic monitoring surveys via spatial capture-recapture
  • Lindsay Morris: Goodness-of-fit of Bayesian spatial models uising pivotal discrepancy measures
The conference was a great success, with dicussion of the talks carrying on after talks had concluded for the day. It was great to see so much engagement with everyones work and passion for the topics at hand. Stephen Marsland and Nokuthaba Sibanda did a great job arranging speakers and making their vision for the conference come alive.

Kyuhan was the recipient of the Runner-Up Best Student Talk - Congratulations Kyuhan!

Kyuhan Prize 1.jpgKyuhan Prize 2.jpg


SMS was also lucky enough to host the 10th Australasian Conference in General Relativity and Gravitation during our December stretch of conferences. This conference drew an assortment of physicists from around the world and provided some interesting discussions throughout the week. Once again SMS, had various staff and students presenting talks and workshops for the conference including:
  • Jessica Santiago: Thermodynamic equilibrium in General Relativity
  • Alex Simpson: From black bounce to traversable wormhole
  • Sebastian Schuster: Sparsity - Quantifyinf the Difference Between Hawking Radiation and Black Body Radiation
  • Matt Visser: Kiselev black holes - a study in forensic physics
The conference also closed off with an outreach day, discussing how to teach various topics in General Relativity and Gravitation at the secondary school level. Matt Visser participated in this outreach day, touching on his approaches to teaching special and general relativity at high school level.

During the conference dinner, Jessica Santiago was awarded the Kerr Prize for Best Student Presentation at the conference. Congratulations Jess!

Congratulations Dr Susan Jowett

Susan Jowett has recently completed her PhD. Susan's thesis topic was titled "Towards Unavoidable Minors of Binary 4-Connected Matroids" - you can check out her work here. We are lucky enough to have Susan staying on with us in SMS as a Post Doc. She has been lecturing MATH132 over the summer break and you are sure to see her around the department at various events and classes in the future.

Congratulations Susan!

Elements Access

Library staff have announced that all PhD students now have access to Elements. Elements is the University system for recording and reporting research outputs, activities and identifiers. Students are able to login using single sign-on, however you will be prompted to login when there are publications or external grants are awarded. Most students are not expected to receive automatic notifications of these events very often; so it is recommended that you login semi-regularly to check information.


Puke Ariki Trust Scholarship

This scholarship supports the studies of a full time postgraduate student whose research relates to Taranki's social history addint to the body of knowledge associated to Taranaki/ The scholarship is awarded annually, up to a maximum of $15 000 and will support the successful applicant to study at postgraduate level in a New Zealand institute.

The closing date for applications is the 20th March 2020.

For more information, please get in touch with Caitlin in the SMS office or email Anne Eddy.


Workshops coming up in February.

How to be a Narrative Ninja - Dr Maria Gardiner, Thinkwell Australia

February 12th 10am-1pm, Murphy Lecture Theater 220

What is the single most important thing that determines the quality of a piece of academic writing? This workshop will demonstrate why narrative is so important and show you how to construct a strong narrative in your academic writing. Sign up here.

Shameless Self-Promotion - Dr Maria Gardiner, Thinkwell Australia

February 12th 2pm-5pm, Murphy Lecture Theater 220

In academia, as in other fields, as well as being clever and working hard, you also need to be able to promote yourself. In this workshop, you will learn key strategies for presenting yourself effectively for promotions, grants and awards. Sign up here.

PhD Induction

February 13th 9:30am-5pm, Murphy 632

The induction programme is designed for recently enrolled doctoral candidates to help you get your PhD study at VUW off to the best possible start. Sign up here.

The PhD Oral Defence

February 27 10:30am-12pm, Murphy 632

Are you interested in learning about the PhD Oral Defence, and what you need to do leading up to the examination of your PhD thesis? This interactive workshop presents an overview of policy, procedures and expectations and provides the opportunity for you to ask questions. Sign up here.


Shut Up And Write 2020

Shut up and write sessions have started up again for 2020. They are held every week on all campuses at the following locations:
  • Kelburn: Tuesday 2-3pm and Wednesday 9-10am aty Milk and Honey
  • Te Aro:Thursday 10-11aqm VS119 (In the Architecture Library)
  • Pipitea: Friday 10-11am, RH420
-- Main.warwooca - 21 Jan 2020