© 2018 Proteus. All rights reserved :: Website by Myth

Current Vacancies

We are seeking a motivated individual to join us as a Research Assistant on a fixed-term contract basis for a wildlife population modelling project.

Project Background

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have begun using a spatially explicit fisheries risk assessment (SEFRA) method for evaluating the risk posed by fisheries on species of interest. The SEFRA is based on the degree of spatial overlap in the fishing effort and distribution of the focal species to determine potential fishing-related impacts, and compared to the Population Sustainability Threshold (PST). The PST is defined to be the number of anthropogenic deaths the population can sustain while still achieving a defined population outcome, with a desired probability. Currently the PST is obtained assuming a logistic population growth model.

The purpose of this research project is to evaluate alternative population growth models for determining the PST, and the sensitivity of the results to different general life-history strategies. Sensitivities will be evaluated through a comprehensive simulation study.

Outcomes from the research will have real-world implications on how the SEFRA method is applied to the management of protected species that are at risk of being impacted by fishery interactions.

Main tasks

Work alongside the principal investigator (Darryl MacKenzie) to:

  • Identify suitable alternative population model structures (literature review)
  • Write computer code to implement alternative population model structures
  • Code and conduct simulation studies
  • Compile simulation results and contribute to written reports

Suitable supervision and mentoring will be provided during the work.

Minimum Qualifications

BSc (or completion of 3 years study if Honours student) in any subject provided good quantitative skills.

Key skills

  • Ability to work independently and meet deadlines
  • Good communication skills
  • Report writing
  • Willingness to learn
  • Use R to input/output data, conduct analyses, create plots. Applicants with proficiency in other languages/packages would also be considered.
  • Matrix algebra
  • Stochastic processes/generating random variables

Desirable previous experience

  • Population modelling
  • Simulation studies

Contract period

Contract would begin on or before 1 Nov 2018 and terminate 30 June 2019, and involve approximately 800 work hours. It is expected that approximately 70% of the work would be completed by 28 Feb 2019, so would suit those seeking summer employment.

Contract amount

Will depend on previous experience, although the University of Otago Research Assistant Casual Scale could be used as a guide. Expected total remuneration in the range $17,000-$22,000 (+GST, if any).

Place of work

It is expected that the successful applicant will spend at least 50% of their time working from the Proteus office, located at the Invermay Agricultural Research Centre, near Dunedin (NZ), but flexible otherwise.


There may be opportunities to become involved in other projects during, or following this research. Work on additional projects will be separate contracts and remunerated accordingly.


Send a covering letter and CV to Darryl MacKenzie (email). Applications close 12 October 2018.


Questions and applications should be directed to:

Darryl MacKenzie
M: +64 21773108
E: darryl@proteus.co.nz