Research Topic

Detection and classification of marine mammals’ signals and anthropogenic noise sources in the Cook Strait

Project Background

The New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research ( has commenced a project focusing on the Cook Strait region to address knowledge gaps relating to ambient noise and marine mammals. The primary aims of the project are to:

  • Understand the occurrence and movement of marine mammals
  • Characterise the marine soundscape

Role Description

NIWA and Victoria University in Wellington are searching for a PhD student for a research project that aims at developing signal processing techniques for the detection and classification of specific signals in the dataset. Signals include boat engine noise, seismic airguns, and whales’ sounds.

The student work will focus on:

  • Characterize time-frequency characteristics of target sounds in the dataset
  • Develop automated detector/classification routines for target sounds, based on machine learning.

There is some flexibility as to the academic scope of the study, which the student will develop in collaboration with their supervising team upon commencement. Depending on boat space availability, and future research projects, the student might have the opportunity to participate in field work to recover and deploy acoustic instruments.

The student will be enrolled at Victoria University in Wellington, under the supervision of Prof. Paul Teal and co-supervised by Dr Giacomo Giorli at NIWA.

The prospective candidate must possess a Bachelor degree and M.Sc. in Engineering, Physics or related field, and must have extensive programming skills (i.e. MATLAB). High GPA is required for university PhD scholarship. Experience in the fields of marine acoustics and signal processing is strongly preferred.

If you are interested, please submit by email a letter of interest, a research statement (2pages maximum), a CV and University transcripts to both Dr Giacomo Giorli ( and Prof. Paul Teal ( by November 30th.

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