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Supporting students affected by COVID-19

5 October 2020

The Maurice Wilkins Centre is providing stipend extensions to PhD students whose progress has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Maurice Wilkins Centre recognises that COVID-19 has had a major impact on the ability of University students to progress their study and research. We also understand that people are our greatest asset - it's our collaborative network of talented investigators and early career researchers across the country which we can all feel proud to be a part of.

In August 2020, the Centre ran a round of the Flexible Research Programme, dedicated to providing extended stipend support for students who are towards the end of their studies and have experienced significant delays due to COVID-19.

Stipend extensions help bridge gap for students close to completing their PhD

Examples of the excellent research that this support is helping to progress to completion are MWC Affiliate Investigators Jessika Wise from the University of Otago and Jonathan Woodhead from the University of Auckland.

Jessika Wise is nearing completion of her PhD project 'The development of 3D breast cancer-adipocyte models for studying tumour microenvironment', supervised by Dr Elisabeth Phillips, Associate Prof Tim Woodfield, Dr Khoon Lim and Associate Prof Margaret Currie, at the University of Otago.

"The knock-on effect from the COVID-19 lock-down on post-graduates is detrimental," wrote her supervisors. "This is especially felt with postgraduate students that rely upon clinical samples, as Jessika does. This COVID-19 lock-down also came at a crucial time in her PhD studies where these samples were essential to finishing a chapter of her thesis."

With her successful application, Jessika will have access to three months of additional stipend and tuition fees that will help her work towards her revised PhD submission date in late December.

Jonathan Woodhead, from the University of Auckland, is also nearly ready to submit his PhD thesis which is 'An investigation into the endogenous regulation of mitochondrial derived peptides (MDPs) through exercise.'

"Jonathan was on track to complete his PhD by October this year, however his final in vivo mouse experiments have been majorly disrupted by both COVID-19 lock-downs," revealed his supervisor Dr Troy Merry.

"He has therefore had to delay these studies which has led to at least a three-month delay in thesis completion. Currently, his scholarship ends at the end of September and he does not have any further funding to support himself and thus will be in jeopardy of not completing."

Jonathan's successful application means that he now has access to an additional three months of stipend and tuition fees which will help him to meet his revised PhD submission date of 1 January 2021. 

MWC pleased to be able to support PhD students across New Zealand

The Maurice Wilkins Centre is very pleased to be able to support Jessika and Jonathan, and 17 other PhD students affiliated to the Centre from across New Zealand, with COVID-19 stipend extensions.