Summer Research Scholarships are a great way to gain valuable research experience, work with leading researchers at the University of Auckland, enhance your career opportunities and help you think about pursuing postgraduate study.

  • Conduct a research project under supervision for 10 weeks over the summer months.
  • Receive a tax-free stipend of $6,500.

Application process

Please contact Dr Nicholas Rattenbury ( or Catherine Qualtrough (

Available Projects

Puanga / Matariki, Te Rangihīroa and Ngāti Mutunga

Supervisors: Nicholas Rattenbury (Ngāti Mutunga), Catherine Qualtrough and Mitchell Ritai

This project will start a literature review relating to Puanga and Matariki as it relates specifically to Ngāti Mutunga. The student will search for and collate references to all documentation, records, and other evidence relating to the observance of Puanga and Matariki, from the context of Ngāti Mutunga iwi. The student will be expected to spend a period of time in the Urenui area, collecting information and interacting with iwi members. Of particular interest are any extant and relevant works of Te Rangihīroa. The report of this summer scholarship will comprise a literature review, and a summary of the methodology used.

Required skills or experience: 

  • An understanding of the importance of Matariki/Puanga in te ao Māori,
  • Evidence of research capacity,
  • Writing excellence. 

Not required, but desirable, skills or experience:

  • Observational astronomy,
  • Experience with writing a literature review,
  • Interview skills, note taking,
  • Te Reo.

Please contact Nicholas Rattenbury ( for more information.


Remote Cloud Cover Analysis for Free Space Optical Communications

Supervisors: Nicholas Rattenbury, Catherine Qualtrough, John Cater and Mitchell Ritai

This project will install and operate an all-sky camera to collect data relating to cloud coverage. This work is part of a larger project to establish a free-space optical communications ground station in New Zealand, as part of the Australasian Optical Communications Ground Station Network. Several sites around New Zealand are potential FSOC ground station sites. The data collected from an all-sky camera will be used to estimate the clear sky fraction at locations selected based on satellite cloud coverage analyses. One candidate site is at Urenui, New Plymouth. The selected candidate may be required to travel to this, or other locations, to install an all-sky camera. 

 Required skills or experience: 

  • Applied physics, embedded programming, remote sensing, or similar.

Not required, but desirable, skills or experience:

  • Environmental sensing,
  • Observational astronomy,
  • Image analysis, 
  • Python, Linux.

Please contact Nicholas Rattenbury ( for more information.


Mission concept of operations and simulation scenario for space satellite mission

Supervisors: Nicholas Rattenbury and John Cater

This project will be to develop elements of the mission concept of operations and simulation scenario for a proposed space satellite mission. The satellite mission under design will provide observations of atmospheric gases relevant for climate, using new non-linear optics technology being developed at University of Otago.

This project will require the student to adapt an existing simulation which comprises some of the elements of the mission, such as orbit choice, satellite form factor, attitude determination and control systems.

The student will develop the simulation along one or more lines of enquiry. This could include, for example, finding an optimal starting orbit for the satellite and attitude policy that enable sufficient integration time for signal extraction from the atmosphere.

The project will require the student to become familiar with the STK software package. No experience with this package is required, however Python coding skills might be an advantage.


Other preferred skills include:

● Basic understanding of orbit dynamics,
● Basic understanding of satellite mission concepts.


Please contact Nicholas Rattenbury ( for more information