Electron Microscopy Student Research Award

This award is intended to advance the initiation of new research projects that utilize electron microscopy, and thereby:

- Promote utilisation of available electron microscopy capabilities.
- Advance research projects that can attract external funding.
- Establish and implement novel approaches and techniques that utilise electron microscopy.

Entitlement of the award:
The award allows utilization of equipment (excluding consumables) at the Otago Centre for Electron Microscopy for up to 15 hours electron microscope time (high-voltage time). The award must be used within a year after initiation. Awarded hours will not be counted in calculating OCEM club fees for departments.

- All undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled at the University of Otago during the time of utilizing the award are entitled to apply.
- The student must have the support of a supervisor located within the University of Otago. The supervisor is expected to make arrangements to cover the cost of consumables associated with the award.
- The award should support new research projects and not supplement funded research projects.

Number of available awards:
Two awards will be made each year.

Closing Dates:
April 1st and September 1st each year.

Terms and Conditions:
A copy of the Terms and Conditions is available to download at the bottom of this page. They must be understood and agreed to by both the applicant and their supervisor before applying for this award.

Application Form EM Student Research Award

Every applicant must complete and return the application form (download below) and MUST have their supervisor's approval BEFORE applying. Failure to do so may make you ineligible for the award. Within one year of receiving the award the student must complete a report for the OCEM.

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Application Form Download

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Terms and Conditions

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Winner's Report Template

Previous Winners of the EM Student Award


Danielle Trilford (Department of Anthropologie and Archaeology) and Jonathon Braun (Department of Physiology) both won an EM Student Award in Spring 2012.

Jonathan Braun will be using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) in his project titled "Does the development of a glycocalyx with differentiation into a confluent monolayer impair internalisation of bacterial outer membrane vesicle by Caco-2 cells?". Original and recent studies of outer membrane vesicles (OMV) from Gram negative bacteria by intestinal epithelial cells have employed single epithelial cells. However, a comparison of the internalisation of OMV by single undifferentiated epithelial cells and confluent fully differentiated monolayers shows a marked reduction in the extent of internalisation following differentiation. Jonathon proposes that this is due to the development of the glycocalyx on the surface of the differentiated epithelial cells. Using TEM will expose the relationship between the development of the glycocalyx on differentiating Caco-2 cells and the impaired OMV entry. He is being supervised by Associate Professor Grant Butt, Dr. Michael Schultz and Dr. Jaqui Keenan.

Danielle will be using electron dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) on the scanning electron microscope to count the growth rings in cockle shells in her project "Shell dating - a new method for unraveling problems of time in New Zealand prehistory". EDS is a method used to determine the elemental chemical composition of samples, and can be used to look at the regular banding pattern on shells at a high resolution and even provide information about when storm events occurred by analysing spikes in magnesium. This will enable her to develop a new method of dating archeological events. She will be testing this method of archeological dating on cockles excavated from one of the earliest archaeological sites in country - an oven feature at Wairau Bar. Danielle is being supervised by Professor Richard Walter.


Christophe Dumas (supervised by Dr. Carla Meledandri, Department of Chemistry) won the EM student award in Autumn 2011 with his project 'Development and characterisation of multifunctional nanomaterials for drug delivery and therapeutic applications'. Christophe used freeze fracture TEM and negative staining and has had success using these techniques:

"Thanks to this Award, I was able to characterise several types of gold nanoparticles with different sizes and surface coatings, to visualise liposomes (unilamellar, multilamellar and multivesicular liposomes) and gold-loaded liposome specimens using Negative Staining. As the gold NPs were quite small, the TEM allowed their detection, unlike our DLS instrument in our lab. Moreover, the images of the gold-loaded-liposome proved that the NPs were successfully loaded within the bilayer of the liposome. The gold-loaded-liposomes and empty liposomes were observed at different stages of preparation which gave us important information regarding the efficiency of the method used to synthesise them and how the loading of the NPs within the bilayer of the liposome works."

Christophe has already produced a poster for the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (NZIC) Otago poster session (2011) and plans to publish his findings.

Christophe Dumas
Controlled-size unilamellar liposomes (produced using freeze fracture TEM) © Christophe Dumas.