CBR PhD Symposium a resounding success

The brightest and best upcoming talent from across the five schools and sixteen departments which make up the Centre for Brain Research all came together in one place last month for the first ever ‘CBR PhD student day’.  The day was conceived, organised, and executed by students, for students, with presentations, expert panels and interactive sessions such as ‘speed dating’ and a variant of the ‘three-minute thesis’ challenge.

The highlight of the day was the opening address by Dr Mark Sagar, CBR member and principal investigator of the Laboratory for Animate Technologies, formerly of Weta Digital, in which he covered the progress of his interesting career to date, with a few tips and points of advice for PhD students in terms of thinking broadly about careers, communication and building networks for the future.

Dr Mark Sagar addresses the Inaugural CBR PhD Student Day

Dr Mark Sagar addresses the Inaugural CBR PhD Student Day

The day also featured a research showcase, with attendees encouraged to draw/write the topics and techniques that they encounter in their daily research, and group these with others, then make connections between their research and related disciplines/techniques, with the result taking on a very web-like – or perhaps cell matrix-like – appearance.  It was a good way to get people talking about how their work related to others and to understand the breadth of the ‘whole picture’ that CBR represents.  People were keen to participate, as the photo below shows!

The 'range of research' - from intracellular to interpersonal.

The ‘range of research’ – from intracellular to interpersonal.

Special acknowledgement is due to all the hard work of organising and executing this event done by members of the BrainWaves committee and others!


Marsden funding to boost brain research

The latest round of grants from the Marsden Fund, administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand, brought good news for three CBR researchers, who have each  been given an opportunity to establish or substantially extend their research programmes.  The Marsden Fund supports research excellence in science, engineering and maths, social sciences and the humanities, and competition for grants is intense.   Marsden funding is regarded as the hallmark of excellence for research in New Zealand.

Professor Michael Corballis [pictured below with collaborator Dr Gurjica Badkova], has been granted $760,000 to extend his research into the relationship between handedness and cerebral asymmetry for language, which helps to reveal information about the origins of speech in humans.

Donna-Rose Addis, pictured below, received a grant of $780,000 which will enable her and her team to continue their investigations into ‘future memory’, and its relationship to imagination and creative thinking, aided by the latest imaging technology.

Lastly, Dr Meagan Barclay received a ‘fast-start’ grant from the Marsden council.  These grants are specifically targeted toward promising researchers at the beginning of their careers, and are intended to facilitate researchers in beginning an independent research programme.  Meagan will use her grant of $345,000 to establish a project which will characterise synaptic structure and function in the cochlea.

CBR Aotearoa Fellows Announced

The CBR is pleased to announce the appointment of the two new Aotearoa Foundation Neuroscience Postdoctoral Fellows at the Centre for Brain Research. Dr Gjurgjica Badzakova-Trajkov and Dr James Coxon will take up the posts in the near future.

The new fellowships are a generous gift from Julian Robertson’s Aotearoa Foundation in New York. They aim to support development of the Centre’s strategic initiatives, to help foster future research leaders here in New Zealand, and to progress world-class neuroscience research across the Centre for Brain Research. With a large number of excellent candidates, appointing the fellows was an extremely difficult and challenging task for the selection panel.

Dr Gjurgjica Badzakova completed her PhD in Psychology at the University of Auckland in 2008, and is completing a Diploma of Clinical Psychology.  She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow with Professor Corballis in the Department of Psychology.  She will work in the laboratory of Dr Lynette Tippett, along with Dr Suzanne Barker-Collo, Professor Mike Corballis and Professor Rob Kydd. Her project involves using Diffusion Tensor Imaging to examine white matter nerve tracts in patients who have had a Traumatic Brain Injury.

Dr James Coxon was a Bright Futures Doctoral Scholar and completed his PhD in 2007 at the University of Auckland.  He holds a post-doctoral fellowship in the Research Centre for Movement Control and Neuroplasticity at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium.  When he returns to New Zealand he will work in the laboratory of Professor Winston Byblow, along with Professor Greg Anson, Dr James Stinear and Dr Nick Gant. His project will use Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to examine whether exercise can protect against neurodegeneration with aging.

We congratulate these two inaugural Aotearoa Fellows and look forward to welcoming them to the CBR.

There is one more Fellowship to appoint in 2012, and further announcements will made early in the year.

Aotearoa Foundation Neuroscience Research Fellowship

Two positions available at the Centre for Brain Research

For more information and how to apply, please visit http://www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/faculty/cbr/opportunities/postdoctoral.aspx

  •  Job Role: Neuroscience
  •  Job Hours: Full-Time, three-year fixed-term
  • Sector: Academic
  • Location: Auckland, New Zealand
  • Company: The University of Auckland, Centre for Brain Research
  • Salary: $70,000 – $84,000 plus negotiated working expenses and travel
  • Job reference: 13064

• Two well funded prestigious research roles
• Seeking leading research fellows, up to six years post-PhD
• Work with multi-disciplinary research team based at the Centre for Brain Research

For more information, visit the Research Fellow website.

CBR postdoctoral fellow opportunities

The Centre for Brain Research is honoured to offer postdoctoral fellowships through the kind support of the Aotearoa Foundation.

These prestigious postdoctoral fellowships are funded by the Aoteoroa Foundation to enable an outstanding emerging scientist to undertake research within the Centre for Brain Research at The University of Auckland. The Aotearoa Foundation is committed to furthering New Zealand research, and offers this generous supprt to the CBR in pursuit of our goals.

We are looking for a candidate who has already shown the potential to be an independent research leader of the highest international calibre. The Aoteoroa Foundation has committed to funding three Postdoctoral Research Fellows, each for three years of duration, with the first appointment in 2011, the second in 2012 and the third in 2013. These are in support of the continued development of the Centre for Brain Research to help meet its goals as a major neuroscience centre in New Zealand, committed to identifying and developing new treatments for neurological conditions.
Read the CBR Vision statement.

The Centre for Brain Research supports basic and clinical scientists who work in a unique partnership with the community to undertake a spectrum of neuroscience research. Each Fellowship is available in any area of neuroscience that aligns with the centre’s central research themes of molecular and cellular neuroscience, clinical neuroscience, cognitive and computational neuroscience, and sensory and motor neuroscience.
Find out more about the CBR research themes.

We are especially seeking applicants whose work will facilitate the centre’s strategic goals to develop interdisciplinary research and core research technologies, such as Integrative Neuroscience Facilities, which will help establish models of human neurological diseases, a Biobank for the direct study of diseased human tissue for drug development and biomarker identification, and the translation of research into the clinic through the Brain Recovery Clinic. Read about our Strategic Plan.

The multidisciplinary nature of the Centre for Brain Research provides an excellent environment for the Fellow to engage with scientists and clinicians in a broad range of disciplines. Active participation in the centre’s scientific and community programmes will be encouraged. Find out more about the CBR events programme.

Project examples


  • The 2010 closing date is 12 December 2010.
  • Applicants should have completed a PhD or equivalent postgraduate research degree (such as MD) within 6 years of applying.
  • For information on how to apply click here