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💡 Great opportunity to do a PhD in mechanical engineering under the supervision of the director of an EA aligned organization.

Are you interested in getting a PhD, but you are concerned that it is not the highest impact thing to do? This is an opportunity to do a PhD at University of Canterbury (Christchurch, New Zealand) in mechanical engineering under the supervision of Dr. David Denkenberger Director & Co-founder of ALLFED.

For more details about the opportunity, why it’s impactful and how to tell if you’re a good fit please read below.



The mission of the Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters is to help create resilience to global food shocks. We seek to identify various resilient food solutions and to help governments implement these solutions, to increase the chances that people have enough to eat in the event of a global catastrophe. We focus on events that could deplete food supplies or access to 5% of the global population or more.

ALLFED is inspired by effective altruism. Our solutions are backed by science and research, and we also identify the most cost-effective solutions, to save lives (here and here) and improve the long-term future of humanity (here and here).

Supervisor - Dr. David Denkenberger

Dr. David Denkenberger received his B.S. from Penn State in Engineering Science, his M.S.E. from Princeton in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in the Building Systems Program. His dissertation was on his patented expanded microchannel heat exchanger. He will be starting as an associate professor at University of Canterbury in mechanical engineering. He co-founded and directs the Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters (ALLFED) and donates half his income to it. He received the National Merit Scholarship, the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, is a Penn State distinguished alumnus, and is a registered professional engineer. He has authored or co-authored over 126 publications (>3,500 citations, >50,000 downloads, h-index = 30, third most prolific author in the existential/global catastrophic risk field), including the book Feeding Everyone no Matter What: Managing Food Security after Global Catastrophe. His food work has been featured in over 25 countries, over 200 articles, including Science, Vox, and Business Insider. He has given interviews on 80,000 Hours podcast and Estonian Public Radio, WGBH Radio, Boston, and WCAI Radio on Cape Cod, USA. He has given over 90 technical presentations, including ones on food at Harvard University, MIT, Princeton University, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Imperial College, and University College London.


This is a great opportunity to do a PhD at University of Canterbury (Christchurch, New Zealand) in mechanical engineering under the supervision of Dr. David Denkenberger Director & Co-founder of ALLFED. There is no coursework, so you can focus on effective research that is related to engineering. Possible topics related to global catastrophic risks include analyzing a satellite communicating with regular cell phones, the cost and scale up capability of high-tech greenhouses, repurposing paper factories to turn leaves into protein and carbohydrate, impact on the energy system of sun obscuring catastrophes, recovering infrastructure as quickly as possible, cost and scaling of seaweed with reduced infrastructure and sunlight, providing home heating despite widespread loss of electricity, and logistics of food and feedstock transportation.


If you have completed any of the following

  • a master’s degree
  • New Zealand equivalent of a bachelor’s degree with First or Second Class (Division I) Honours
  • have published a peer-reviewed article

All applicants from outside of NZ must meet the English Language Requirements which are described here. Non-UK systems generally require GPA that is equivalent to 5.5 /9. Bachelors or master’s should be in a related field, such as mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, engineering science, chemical engineering, physics, etc.

There is also a temporary researcher position available that is less restrictive in terms of undergraduate major. Please contact David Denkenberger at david@allfed.com if you want more information.


  • Have an engaged advisor and interact regularly with the global team of ALLFED.
  • ALLFED will supplement the University salary.
  • PhD will only take three years to complete in New Zealand
  • Potential for regular employment at ALLFED afterwards from anywhere in the world
  • Thriving EA community in Christchurch and travel to conferences will be supported


Admissions are rolling, but your chances are best if you apply by December 16, 2022. Applications should include a resume/CV and fill out the form here.

Please contact David Denkenberger at david@allfed.com if you have any questions.





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