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Category Archives: Scholarship

Brenda Shore Award – The Person Behind the Name

A number of scholarships are named after folk  who have very generously donated money to help students fulfill their academic dreams.  I always find it interesting to learn more about people who do this and in what I hope will be a regular feature here on the blog, this post looks at the person behind the named scholarship.  To learn more about the Brenda Shore Award  I caught up with Lorraine Issacs who helps with the selection process for the  Award and we also hear from students who have benefited from her generous bequeath.

brenda shoreMel:  Hi Lorraine, thank you for taking the time to provide us with some background to the Brenda Shore Award.  I guess the first question I have is, who was Brenda Shore?

Lorraine: Brenda Faulkner Shore, nee Slade, (1922-1993) earned a BSC from Otago University in 1944-45, majoring in Botany.  She was awarded an MSc and PhD, also in Botany, at Cambridge University in the early 1950’s and taught Botany at Otago until 1983, reaching the position of Associate Professor.  She was enthusiastic and enterprising, and over the course of 35 years became a prominent figure in the Botany Department  as a researcher and teacher.  In later life she added the ability to paint botanically accurate plants to her many accomplishments, and always championed higher education for women.

Mel:  The Brenda Shore Award is administered by the Otago Branch of the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women.  Can you tell me a bit about the NZFGW and the connection to Brenda Shore?

Lorraine: NZFGW is an organisation of women graduates which aims to improve the status of women and girls, promote lifelong education and enable graduate women to use their expertise effectively.  It awards educational scholarships to deserving women:  Brenda Shore was the second holder of an NZFGW Fellowship which helped her attend Cambridge University.  She showed her gratitude to NZFGW by setting up the Brenda Shore Post-Graduate Research Trust to assist Masters’ and Doctoral research by Otago University women, the recipients to be chosen annually by a panel of NZFGW members.

Mel:  When you are assessing scholarship applications, who in your mind is the ideal applicant that you like to support through the Brenda Shore Award?

Lorraine:  Because of Brenda Shore’s own preferences and interest, we like to choose postgraduate applicants studying one of the natural sciences (eg. Botany, Zoology, Marine Science, Geography, Environment of Science, Ecology) and carrying out research in the Otago, Southland or Antarctic areas.  They also, of course, need to be passionate about their work, have the potential to add value to their society and be doing research to a very high standard.

Mel:  I know you have reviewed a number of applications over the years, what is one tip you would give someone who is applying for a scholarship?

Lorraine:  We ask applicants to tell us in 100 words about their life experience:  women who use those 100 words wisely to tell us about their experiences, skill and potential to be successful in their future endeavours will have more chance of winning a Brenda Shore Award.

Mel:  What is your favourite thing about being involved in the process of selecting a candidate for the Brenda Shore Award?

Lorraine:  It is wonderful to give away money to serving women scholars and know that the faith we have in them will spur them on in their higher education.  Since 2004 we have given 34 awards worth a total of $184, 000 – who wouldn’t be pleased about that!

Mel:  Last year the Brenda Shore Award was awarded to Kirsten Ward-Hartstonge and Natalie Howes.  I caught up with Kirsten and Natalie and asked them to explain what winning the Brenda Shore Award meant to them

Kirsten Ward-Hartstonge, PhD candidate,  Biochemistry: One of the aims of my Master’s project was to determine the phenotype of effector regulatory T cells in colorectal cancer. To do this I had to design a new flow cytometry panel using a large range of new antibodies. The Brenda Shore award allowed me to purchase a variety of antibodies I would not have been able to purchase otherwise, and I would not have been able to get such a thorough phenotype of my cells of interest.  This greatly benefited my project as I was able to get a more detailed insight into the cells of interest that I was looking at and to complete my research to the highest possible standard.

Natalie Howes, PhD, Food Science:  My PhD has a large component of field work that requires me to travel extensively. At the time of receiving the Brenda Shore Award I was travelling 400km per week to collect samples from a farm in Southland for a period of four months. The Brenda Shore Award assisted with the significant cost of this travel which would have otherwise been financially burdening. The scholarship also enabled me to purchase sampling equipment on a need-to-use basis. This was especially beneficial for my farm trials due to their relatively unpredictable nature.

The Brenda Shore Award closed on 28th of February.  For more details about this scholarship including application information please visit the Brenda Shore Award page on the University of Otago Scholarships website.

Mastering the Masters Scholarship Application

Mastering your Masters Scholarship ApplicationIt’s that time of year when you have finished your final exams, it was the last year of your degree and you are wondering what to do next.  Someone whispers in your ear
“what about postgraduate study?” and you are thinking “mmm maybe a masters is for me but how can I support further study?”.  Well, a scholarship might be an option.  What follows is a 101 for applying for an Otago University Master’s scholarship.

Step one:  How do I apply?

First visit the Scholarship Applynow webpage.  This page lists the University of Otago scholarships you can apply for at Masters level, the regulations and most importantly the application form.

So go ahead and have a read, use categorised list of Otago Master’s degrees to work out what scholarship you can apply for. I will wait…… Sorted? Brilliant.

An important thing to note is that at the moment you cannot apply for scholarship funding via eVision.  There is no super cool tick box scenario here (but it is coming in 2015).

Either save an electronic copy of the application and enter your details or go old school and print off the application and complete it by hand, then scan it as a PDF.

If you do choose the second option, please use your best handwriting as we have to load your application into our database and life is so much easier if we don’t have to guess what you are writing! (Academy award winning writer and producer Aaron Sorkin wants to do an MSc in Pottery??? Oh no, some random dude called Darren Walken wants to do an MSc in Botany!)

Step two:  When do I apply?

A brilliant question and one we get often.  You can apply any time.  The Graduate Research School is all about flexibility; we don’t have a closing date which means if you want to have leisurely summer by the beach before you start your masterpiece, you can.

When you are ready to apply, submit your scholarship application as part of your admission application (yes this bit is via eVision).  There is no section which says “load your scholarship here,”  you simply load it as an additional document.

What happens if I have already applied for admission and I did not submit my scholarship application I hear you cry (sob sob)? Dry those tears my dear and don’t panic.  You can still apply.

If you are a coursework masters scholarship applicant as long as you have not started your course you can still apply (if you have started, unfortunately you are out of luck but check out BreakOut for options for external funding).  Research Masters students can apply after they have started their masters (we only offer funding for the first 12 months of your degree, so it’s no go if you are in month 13 of your study).  To apply after admission, complete your application and forward it on to your department and they will do the rest.

Step three:  When do I know if I have a scholarship or not?

We will process scholarship as soon as we receive and put it forward to a monthly meeting where it will be assessed.  We will notify you once the meeting has been held as quickly as we can and we will most likely notify you by email.

Sooo… if we get your application by the end of November we will assess your application before Christmas, applications received before Christmas will be assessed early Jan and you could be rolling in cash by February.

Step four:  Is there anything else I should know?


  • Our current round of scholarships can start from 1 Jan 2015 (or there after).
  • Aim to start at the beginning of a month.  We make our payments month by month and it doesn’t matter what date you start within in the month you will use a month’s funding (try saying that one in a hurry).
  • Scholarship offers are valid for at least six months from when the offer is made.  So if you want to know before you go on your beach holiday if you have a scholarship, you can.
  • We offer 60 Research Masters Scholarships and around 20 Coursework Scholarships which means that these scholarships are super competitive i.e. we need to see good grades (like A grades).

Hopefully this helps in your quest to finding funding to help support yourself as you begin your postgrad life.  Don’t forget BreakOut  is another place to hunt out scholarship funding.  Any more questions just drop us an email (

Mel Adams, Graduate Research School

Welcome to the Blog!

Welcome pic


Welcome to the Graduate Research School’s Blog-With-No-Name.  This blog is an opportunity for the University of Otago graduate research community and the people supporting that community to share insights and information about the thesis journey.

I am the Manager of the Graduate Research School and the School’s Chief Bloggerating Officer.  I am ably supported by my Blog-of-Directors, Sarah McGregor from the Doctoral Office and Mel Adams from the Scholarships Office.  Our mission is to share the ups and downs and the ins and outs of writing a thesis.

There is loads of support available across the University for thesis candidates but it isn’t always easy to find it at the exact moment you need it.  This blog is a place where we can share resources and initiate new responses to the challenges thrown up by writing a thesis in our current environment.  Check out our weekly post to see if there is something going on in your community that would help support you.  If you have an idea for an amazing graduate research initiative, give us the word; you may be just one blog post away from glory.

Graduate Research should involve more than just slaving over books and Bunsen burners.  We want to hear from thesis candidates not simply about their research, but also about their passions, and projects.  If you are managing some amazing work-life balance, let us know and share how you managed it in our Life Beyond posts.

If you are barely managing a work-work balance, then look out for our posts on managing your greedy thesis.  We will grab experts and pin them down about how to have the best possible thesis experience.  Amongst other things, tips for dealing with writing woes, managing your supervisor, finding work in the current economic climate, and overcoming our own psychological foibles will be shared and discussed in our Conquer Your Thesis posts.

In our Behind Departmental Doors posts we will explore how various areas of the University support and develop graduate research.  Ever wondered what a Postgraduate Coordinator does?  Interested in what resources a thesis candidate can reasonably expect during candidature?  We are here to blow those mysteries wide open.  Want to know why there are goat noises coming from the department down the hall?  Keen to know where to buy those instant-intellectual-look leather (or pleather) arm patches for your jerseys?  Wonder no more!  We are here to ask our departments the hard questions, the good questions, and the very-silly-indeed questions.

If you would like to write a post for the Blog-With-No-Name, then contact Claire Gallop.  We have a few guidelines to prevent Blogageddon; we prefer not to slander people, be disrespectful, become the next WikiLeaks, or get embroiled in intellectual property disputes.  We like our contributors to focus on positive solutions to issues rather than simply having a bleat and in the age of the sound-bite, short is good too, so aim for no more than 500 words.  But beyond these rules, we want this to be your voice as well as ours.

Finally, do you know how many blogs there are that are called a Blog-With-No-Name?  If you can come up with a great name for our blog there is a $50 supermarket voucher and a chocolate fish with your name on it; so get your thinking caps on and either email me or leave us a comment.

Claire Gallop, Manager, Graduate Research School