Critical support for New Zealand’s budding researchers

  • Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall

Fellowships to attract and retain talented researchers in the early stages of their career, have been awarded to 30 New Zealanders, Associate Research, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today.

“I am pleased to congratulate these researchers, who will be receiving funding through the MBIE Science Whitinga Fellowship. They are some of our best and brightest early career researchers, and are invaluable to the science system. Throughout their careers, they will contribute to positive outcomes for New Zealand,” Ayesha Verrall said.

COVID-19 prompted the establishment of the Fellowship, as the pandemic has had widespread impacts across the science system; including on the research workforce. Travel restrictions have meant many researchers have been unable to gain overseas experience after completing their PhD.

In recognition of this, the Fellowship will help support researchers to grow and develop their research skills in New Zealand; providing them with much-needed certainty. Such investments are a vital part of the Government’s efforts to support New Zealand’s recovery from Covid-19.

The one-off fellowships, each worth $320,000 over two years, have been awarded for research undertaken in any field, including the humanities, mātauranga, and social science, at eligible New Zealand research institutions.

“This Fellowship is committed to diversity, as it’s vital for our Research, Science and Innovation system. Diversity ensures we capture the very best ideas and talent to support the highest quality research, which leads to better outcomes for New Zealanders. Māori and Pasifika researchers make up 40 percent of the Fellows receiving funding, while 60 percent of the Fellows are female. It’s great to see,” Ayesha Verrall said.

For the purpose of these fellowships, early career researchers are those who have completed their highest research qualification within the last four years.

To apply for the MBIE Science Whitinga Fellowship, individuals had to meet the following criteria:

  • Applicants must be either New Zealand citizens, or permanent residents
  • Applicants must have gained a PhD on or after 1 January 2017
  • Applicants must be supported by a New Zealand-based research organisation, which can demonstrate it is capable and willing to provide appropriate support and facilities that will enable the applicant to succeed in their Fellowship
  • Applicants must not be currently employed in a long term research position (excluding part-time positions)

Selection criteria took account of academic and research excellence, potential for career development, appropriateness of the proposed research programme, ability of the host organisation to supervise and support the applicant.

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