Students

Catalina Aguilar-Hurtado

JCU PhD Student
Contact: catalina.aguilarhurtado@my.jcu.edu.au

Catalina was born and grew up in Cali, Colombia. She completed her BSc in Biology at University of los Andes and did her research on Caribbean octocoral systematics. Shortly after, she did some internship at research stations in South America and in 2008 joined a master program at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan. During these two years she studied the systematics of an octocoral family (Melithaeidae) and sampled corals throughout the Ryukyu Archipelago. In 2011 she began her PhD studies at JCU within the School of Pharmacy and Molecular Sciences under the supervision of Dr David Miller. Her PhD research focuses on the coral transtriptomic analysis under different environment conditions, including the effects of elevated CO2 on the coral immune system.


Kristen Anderson

JCU PhD Student 
Contact: kristen.anderson2@my.jcu.edu.au

Kristen completed her BSc in Canada studying biology.  Her love of the ocean took her to Honduras where she volunteered at a marine research assistant at the Utila Centre for Marine Ecology.  Kristen came to James Cook University to undertake a semester of course work being awarded a Graduate Certificate of Science in Marine Biology.  Under the supervision of Morgan Pratchett, she completed her Honours year receiving her BSc Honours with first class distinction, studying summer growth rates of corals at Lord Howe Island.  She is continuing her research with a PhD at the Centre of Excellence, studying the growth of branching corals along the GBR to assess for changes in growth and determining the key environmental drivers of these habitat forming species.


Adrian Arias

JCU PhD Student
Contact: adrian.arias@my.jcu.edu.au

Adrian grew up in and around saltwater in Costa Rica. He gained his undergraduate degree in Biology with emphasis on sustainable development; later completed a master’s degree in Natural Resource Management at JCU. After some years in Costa Rica he worked with a wide range of marine issues such as fisheries, tourism, coastal reforestation, science communication and marine spatial planning. Back again in JCU Adrian is a member of Program 6, supervised by Prof. Bob Pressey. His project examines marine conservation planning in Costa Rica and will focus on marine protected area design and, compliance and enforcement.


Shelley Anthony

JCU PhD Student
Contact: shelleya@gbrmpa.gov.au

Shelley is originally from the U.S.A., and most recently lived in Hawaii before emigrating to Australia in 2000. Her PhD project involves the environmental, microbial, and physiological cause(s) of tissue sloughing and its role in coral disease. She is supervised by Bette Willis at the JCU node of the Centre, as well as David Bourne from AIMS, and Kirsten Michalek-Wagner from ReefHQ Aquarium. Shelley enjoys salsa dancing, house renovation projects, and relaxing at the beach with her husband and 1-year old son.


Jennifer Atherton

JCU PhD Student
Contact: jennifer.atherton@my.jcu.edu.au

Jen grew up in the north west of England, but travelled to the east coast to study for her BSc (Hons) Aquatic Zoology degree at the University of Hull. After completing her undergraduate degree, Jen travelled out to Tanzania, Africa, to volunteer as a Research Assistant on a conservation project based in the Mafia Island Marine Park. She moved over to Australia in March 2011 to study for a PhD under the supervision of Prof. Mark McCormick, Prof. Geoff Jones and Dr. Ashley Frisch. Her research focuses on the effect of the threat of predation risk on offspring, through maternal effects, in damselfishes.


Sandra Binning

ANU PhD Student
Contact: sandra.binning@anu.edu.au

Sandra was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, where activities involving skiing and snow were far more common than surf and sun. Nevertheless, she developed an interest in tropical ecology early on, and completed her BSc Honours degree in biology at McGill University studying seagrass communities in Barbados. Craving a study system with slightly more personality, Sandra switched her interests to freshwater fish, completing her MSc at McGill exploring intraspecific variation and ecomorphology in East African cichlids. Having cemented her love of fish, Sandra dreamed of returning to the marine realm, and moved halfway across the world to Australia to do it! Under the supervision of Dr. Chris Fulton at ANU, Sandra’s PhD will use techniques in ecomorphology and physiology to explore intraspecific phenotypic variation in coral reef fishes in response to environmental gradients.


Chico Birrell

UQ PhD Student
Contact: chico.birrell@uq.edu.au

Chico first experienced coral reefs as a “beche de mer” collector from Cairns in 1993. As an Ecological Science undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh he became involved in initiatives for conservation of coral reefs in Central America. Following work in the tourism and dive industry in Spain, Portugal and Morocco he moved to Townsville and undertook an MSc to investigate the impacts of macroalgae on coral reproduction at James Cook University. Since 2003 Chico has worked as an independent marine consultant, a dive instructor and biologist on the Great Barrier Reef and in the Coral Sea for Undersea Explorer, as a research assistant at James Cook University, as a benthic ecologist for the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Western Australia (Scott Reef, Ningaloo Reef and Kimberley Region), as a translator and interpreter (Portuguese, Spanish), as a scientific commercial diver and for coral health and fecundity monitoring projects as a consultant in Western Australia.. In 2011 Chico joined ARC Laureate Prof. Peter Mumby at the University of Queensland, for a PhD to explore the ecology and dynamics of macroalgae and provide insights for conservation measures to boost coral reef resilience. He also dedicates spare time to the Australian Coral Reef Society (www.australiancoralreefsociety.org)


April Boaden

JCU PhD Student
Contact: april.boaden@my.jcu.edu.au

April April grew up on a farm in country New South Wales, far away from tropical coral reefs. After moving to the Gold Coast, she soon fell in love with the marine environment and completed a Bachelor of Science (marine biology major) at Griffith University. After an adventurous few years travelling around Australia, April moved to Townsville in 2010 to complete her Honours Degree at JCU. This research focused on the demography, reproductive biology and habitat affiliations of the bridled monocle bream (Nemipteridae: Scolopsis bilineatus). April is now continuing on with a PhD at JCU which investigates the trophic effects of fishing on the Great Barrier Reef, with an emphasis on how fishing influences predator/prey relationships and reef fish communities. She is also the vice president of the Centre of Excellence student committee. April is supervised by Prof. Michael Kingsford, Prof. Garry Russ, and Dr. David Williamson, and supported through an Australian Postgraduate Award and Queensland Smart Futures PhD Scholarship.


Teressa Bobeszko

JCU PhD Student
Contact: teressa.bobeszko@my.jcu.edu.au

Teressa grew up in Brisbane and completed both her undergraduate and BSc Hon degree in marine biology at the University of Queensland. Currently, Teressa is a PhD student within the School of Pharmacy and Molecular Sciences at James Cook University. Under the supervision of Dr Bill Leggat and Professor David Yellowlees her PhD research focuses on the effects of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations on the inorganic carbon supply in the coral-Symbiodinium symbiosis. In her spare time Teressa enjoys camping, spending time at the beach, dancing and painting.


Melissa Bos

JCU PhD Student
Contact: melissa.bos@my.jcu.edu.au

Melissa graduated with a BSc in Chemistry and Marine Science from the University of Miami, Florida, USA. After working as an environmental consultant, she went back to school to pursue her passion for coral reef conservation. Melissa obtained a MSc from the University of Hawaii at Manoa studying the physical chemistry of coral reef nutrient uptake. During her masters degree she was also adjunct faculty at Hawaii Pacific University and a lecturer for the Institute for Cultural Ecology in Fiji. As a Coral Reef Management Fellow for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Melissa had a leadership role in designing and implementing coral reef conservation strategies for the State of Hawaii. After the fellowship, Melissa was the Hawaii and Pacific Islands Coordinator for NOAA’s Alliance for Coastal Technologies where she built collaborative partnerships between the technology industry, scientists, and marine resource managers. Combining her experience working with traditional fishing communities and global business leaders (and numerous stakeholders in between), Melissa is pursuing a PhD in socioeconomic values of coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef and Main Hawaiian Islands and innovative conservation finance instruments to manage reefs. Melissa is jointly supervised by Natalie Stoeckl (School of Business) and Bob Pressey (ARC Centre of Excellence Program 6).


Lisa Boström-Einarsson

JCU PhD Student
Contact: lisa.bostromeinarsson@my.jcu.edu.au

Lisa fled the cold waters of Sweden in favour of tropical dive destinations in Central America and South-East Asia where she worked as a dive instructor for four years. Having seen first hand the beauty and vulnerability of marine ecosystems, she pursued a BSc Honours Degree at JCU in marine biology. Lisa is now continuing on with a PhD at JCU investigating ecological effects of habitat degradation. In particular her project focuses on how on competitive hierarchies between reef fishes are affected by decreasing habitat quality. She is supervised by Professors Geoff Jones, Phil Munday and Dr. Mary Bonin.


Simon Brandl

 JCU PhD student
Contact: simon.brandl@my.jcu.edu.au

Simon is originally from Munich, Germany. Although he completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Innsbruck, in the centre of the Alps and far away from the ocean, marine biology has always been his main interest. After finishing his Bachelor thesis on the ecology of clingfishes (f. Gobiesocidae) in the Northern Adriatic Sea he came to Australia and enrolled for the MAppSc in Marine Biology at JCU in February 2011. Having completed a research project with David Bellwood where he investigated pair-formation in the herbivorous rabbitfish Siganus doliatus, he is now doing a PhD focusing on fine-scale differences in the functional performances of herbivorous coral reef fishes and their influence on coral reef ecosystems. The project is supervised by David Bellwood.


Brock Bergseth

JCU PhD student
Contact: brock.bergseth@my.jcu.edu.au

Brock BergsethBrock grew up in rural Minnesota baling hay, wrangling horses, and trapping the odd backcountry beaver. He quickly developed a love of the outdoors and the natural world while quietly observing the role that humans play as environmental stewards. Brock’s previous studies have included aquatic biology, as well as sociological disciplines such as nonviolent communication and conflict resolution. During his travels through India, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, he witnessed a seemingly widespread lack of environmental knowledge and stewardship that resulted in the degradation of the regions’ natural resources, including the coral reefs. After several sunset reflection sessions, Brock decided to continue racking up his student debt and complete a masters degree in marine biology at JCU. During his time at JCU, Brock has begun exploring how fishers and other resource users interact with the marine environment and the management systems that are in place to preserve it. He is currently a PhD candidate in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies under the supervision of Prof. Josh Cinner, Prof. Garry Russ, Prof. Terry Hughes, Dr. Stephen Sutton and Dr. David Williamson. His PhD will explore the social and ecological dynamics of stakeholder compliance to fisheries management regulations, with an emphasis on no-take marine reserves.


Sarah Buckley

UQ PhD student
Contact: s.buckley2@uq.edu.au

S_Buckley_thumbSarah is from Ireland, where she completed her Hons BSc in Zoology at University College Cork. During her honours she crossed the Irish and Celtic Seas observing the abundance and distribution of jellyfish and sunfish.  Following a trip to Japan, Sarah relocated to Brisbane, where she is undertaking a PhD at the University of Queensland under the supervision of Professor John Pandolfi and Dr. Ruth Thurstan. She is investigating the historical changes to Australia and Kenya’s marine fisheries. She is using historical, social and ecological techniques to provide baselines of former population sizes to provide management with appropriate baselines by which to set restoration and recovery targets.


Ian Butler

UQ PhD Student
Contact: ian.butler@uqconnect.edu.au

Ian grew up in Canada, the United States and Australia.  He received his BSc in Marine Biology from James Cook University in 1990.  He received his MSc in Marine Biology from James Cook University in 1996, working on lethal wounding in Crown-of-Thorns starfish with Hugh Sweatman and John Lucas.  He spent the next nine years variously working as a Fisheries Biologist in Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and the USA as well as a software developer with WildTangent and Microsoft.  The next 7 years were spent as an at-home dad and that job continues.  Having missed Marine Biology a great deal, in 2011 Ian returned as a remote student to start a PhD at The University of Queensland with John Pandolfi and Jian-xin Zhao.  The focus of his project is the historical ecology of the terrigenoclastic coral reefs around Hervey Bay, Queensland Australia.


Ciemon Caballes

JCU PhD Student
Contact: ciemon.caballes@my.jcu.edu.au

Ciemon Caballes Ciemon completed his BSc in Biology at Silliman University in the Philippines. He proceeded to work with the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation after his undergraduate studies and was involved in several coral reef management projects throughout the Philippines. He decided to pursue his MSc in Biology degree at the University of Guam in 2006, where he studied the role of chemical cues on the feeding ecology and distribution of crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) populations around Guam. After finishing his MSc, he continued to study and monitor chronic COTS outbreaks on Guam’s reefs and collaborated with JCU on developing novel techniques to control COTS populations. He is currently doing his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Morgan Pratchett, Dr. Jairo Rivera-Posada, and Dr. Alexander Kerr. His research explores environmental influences on the reproductive, larval, and postsettlement biology of COTS.


Jordan Casey

JCU PhD Student
Contact: jordan.casey@my.jcu.edu.au

Jordan grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. She completed a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Ecology & Biodiversity and Spanish from Sewanee: The University of the South, studying the effects of exurbanization on avifauna and macroinvertebrates as well as ecofeminism in Latin America. After university, Jordan conducted research on seabird colonies in the Farallones, islands off the coast of California, and the Galápagos Islands. Currently, she is a PhD candidate under the supervision of Sean Connolly, Howard Choat, and Tracy Ainsworth. Her project focuses on the role of territorial grazer behaviour and community structure on coral reef trophic dynamics. She is interested in how energy flows through coral reefs and how overfishing impacts food web structure from the perspective of key ecosystem components: microbes, epilithic algal matrix, Acroporids, damselfish, and predators.


Carolina Castro Sanguino

UQ PhD Student
Contact:c.castrosanguino@uq.edu.au

Carolina Sanguino_1Carolina was born in Bogotá, Colombia very far from the coast and never saw the ocean until she was 9 years old. Immediately, she fall in love with the sea. In 2003 Carolina became a Marine Biologist and since then she has special interest in coral reef ecosystems dynamics. The effects of climate change over the resilience of these submarine environments and both the ecological and biological processes taken there drew her attention at a very early stage of her career. In 2010 Carolina finished her masters at the Molecular Marine Biology Lab. (BIOMMAR), at the Universidad de los Andes, in Colombia. During her masters she explored the role of Caribbean parrotfishes as key components for the population dynamics of free-living pools of Symbiodinium. Currently, as a PhD student in the Marine Spatial Ecology Laboratory at UQ, Carolina is interested in understanding the contribution of coral habitat complexity and herbivorous fishes on the ecology and productivity of the calcified green algae Halimeda, a key ecological component of Pacific coral reefs. Carolina aims to predict the impacts of a likely reduction in Acropora (a provider of refugia for Halimeda) on the sediment budgets on tropical coral reefs.


Adriana Chacón

JCU MPhil Student
Contact: adrichaconcr@gmail.com

Adriana ChaconAdriana is from Costa Rica. She completed her BSc and Honours Degree in Economics at University of Costa Rica. While finishing her degree she worked at a private consulting firm. After graduating she started working with the Association of Private Business Chambers in Costa Rica, which lead to a position in the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Trade. In 2013 she began her Masters by Research at JCU within the School of Business under the supervision of Prof. Natalie Stoeckl and Prof. Bob Pressey, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. She is a member of Program 6, supervised by Prof. Pressey. Her research focuses on the contribution of the environment to wellbeing.


Jessica Cheok

JCU MPhil Student
Contact: jessica.cheok@my.jcu.edu.au

 

Jess_Cheok_2Jess was born in Singapore but grew up in Brunei. Her upbringing there has lead to a profound interest and appreciation for natural environments and conservation of these environments. Her current research looks at examining issues related to changes in resolution of spatial prioritisations in systematic conservation planning, and how these changes in resolution can affect prioritisation outcomes for conservation. These are currently critical knowledge gaps that she aims to fill. She is supervised by James Moloney, Bob Pressey and Rebecca Weeks.


Melissa Cowlishaw

JCU PhD Student
Contact: melissa.cowlishaw@my.jcu.edu.au

Mel grew up in Brisbane and completed her BSc hons in marine biology at the Centre for Marine Studies, at the University of Queensland and moved to Townsville to undertake a PhD at James Cook University under the supervision of Dr Geoff Jones and Dr Mark McCormick. Her PhD investigates the interrelationships between individual living space, habitat quality and abundance in coral reef fishes, with most of her research being carried out at the Lizard Island Research Station. When she’s not out on the reef Mel enjoys surfing (when there’s waves around), outdoor adventures and surf lifesaving.


Blanche D’Anastasi

JCU PhD Student
Contact: blanche.danastas@my.jcu.edu.au

BlancheBlanche grew up in coastal central Queensland and spent alot of time at the beach, in the rainforest and in the bush; experiences which shaped her profound passion for conservation. Blanche has a professional back ground in conservation advocacy, having worked primarily on coastal dolphin conservation and marine reserve campaigns. At present, Blanche specialises in the conservation genetics of threatened species, including sawfish and sea snakes, as a researcher. She is a member of the IUCN Sea Snake Specialist Group and a co-author on the IUCN’s global status review of sawfish. Blanche undertook her undergraduate degree and Honours research at James Cook University and is currently undertaking a multidisciplinary research project encompassing ecology and genetics of true sea snakes in Western Australia, supervised by Dr. Vimoksalehi Lukoschek, Dr. Lynne van Herwerden, Dr. Colin Simpfendorfer (James Cook University) and Dr. Jean-Paul Hobbs at the University of Western Australia. Blanche is also very fond of bats and frogs.


Jon Day

JCU PhD Student
Contact: jon.day@my.jcu.edu.au

Jon DayJon Day has 39 years of professional experience as a protected area planner and manager, 28 years of which has been in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Marine Park. Jon is currently on sabbatical from GBRMPA and is based in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies while commencing a PhD tentatively titled ‘Planning and managing the Great Barrier Reef – lessons learnt for the future planning of the Reef and implications for marine protected areas elsewhere’ ; this PhD is being jointly supervised by Bob Pressey and Helene Marsh.


Ayax Diaz-Ruiz

UQ PhD Student
Contact: a.diaz-ruiz@cms.uq.edu.au

Born and educated in Mexico, Ayax finished his honours project in coral-associated crabs (genus Trapezia) in the Sea of Cortez by 1999 and then switched into Information Technology for his Master’s project, where he explored the use of mobile internet technology in ecological studies. Keen on returning to work on the effect of climate change on invertebrates associated to Pocillopora damicornis, he has been working under the supervision of Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Greg Skilleter and John Pandolfi at UQ to analyse the effects of bleaching in the biodiversity of invertebrate fauna associated to pocilloporid corals. Additional objectives of his work are also studying food webs within this particular symbiosis (coral-invertebrates) and tracking recovery of biodiversity after stressful periods within coral colonies. He looks forward to increase his knowledge of ecosystem functioning in any model system as part of his career development. In his free time, he likes to relax practicing some T’ai Chi Ch’uan.


Ashton Gainsford

JCU PhD Student
Contact: ashton.gainsford@my.jcu.edu.au

Ashton GainsfordAshton is a PhD candidate at James Cook University, affiliated with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, currently working under the supervision of Dr. Lynne van Herwerden and Prof. Geoffrey P. Jones. Ashton grew up in south-east Queensland and moved north to Townsville in 2008 to complete her undergraduate studies at James Cook University majoring in Marine Biology, with dreams of exploring the Great Barrier Reef. Intrigued by the potential range of fascinating questions to be addressed through the application of genetic tools, she finished off her undergraduate studies with an Honours degree in 2011, and hasn’t looked back. This research applied morphological, ecological and genetic approaches to elucidate a putative ongoing hybridization occurring between two anemonefish species in Papua New Guinea.
​Building on her previous experience, currently her PhD research is focused on looking more broadly at the ecological dynamics and evolutionary implications involved in this particular hybridization event across the hybrid zone (extending from Papua New Guinea to the Solomon Islands), involving a coral reef fish with strong hierarchical behavior and habitat specialization. This research is supported through an Australian Postgraduate Award and funding through the Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation, and includes collaborators from James Cook University, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and the University of Western Australia. As an evolutionary biologist her research interests broadly include hybridization, speciation, adaptation, population genetics, molecular ecology and conservation genetics, particularly in relation to coral reef systems. Beyond the fishy world of coral reefs, Ashton also has a keen interest in bat ecology and evolution. For further information on her research and CV visit ashtongainsford.wordpress.com.


Christopher Goatley

JCU PhD Student
Contact: christopher.goatley@my.jcu.edu.au

Christopher is from the UK where he undertook a BSc (Honours) degree in marine biology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Since completion of this degree he stayed in Newcastle upon Tyne for a short period helping the university to coordinate field trips for visiting school groups and then worked as a freelance scuba instructor in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. He is currently enrolled at JCU Townsville and is conducting a research project on the trophic ecomorphology of reef fish assemblages, supervised by Prof David Bellwood.


Georgina Gurney

JCU PhD Student
Contact: georgina.gurney@my.jcu.edu.au

Georgina is from Tasmania, where she completed her BSc in Marine, Freshwater and Antarctic Science. Preferring tropical rather than Antarctic waters for diving, she headed north to do her Honours research in the Philippines, where she used bio-physical simulation modelling to explore potential reef futures under multiple management and climatic scenarios. Georgina’s experiences in the Philippines inspired her to pursue a PhD in understanding the human dimensions of marine resource management.  Currently supervised by Bob Pressey, Natalie Ban, Josh Cinner and Nadine Marshall, her research focuses on how social factors can be incorporated into several stages of systematic conservation planning with two key aims. First, she is investigating how to explicitly integrate fisheries livelihood objectives into spatial prioritization procedures to enable MPA designs to be better aligned with the needs of local stakeholders. Second, to inform the selection of contextually appropriate conservation actions, she will explore the social impacts of MPA management, and the relative role of multiple-scale factors in influencing stakeholders’ engagement in collective MPA management.


Renee Gruber

UWA PhD student
Contact: reneekgruber@gmail.com

Renee_GruberOriginally from the US, Renee completed her BSc in Environmental Science at the University of Virginia in 2007.  She received her MSc in Marine – Estuarine – Environmental Science from the University of Maryland’s Horn Point Laboratory in 2010, studying physical-biological interactions in seagrass beds of Chesapeake Bay.  Renee then relocated to Sydney to work as a research scientist in the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Water’s coastal and estuarine unit.  The return to academia happened in 2012, when she headed to UWA to study physical and biogeochemical properties of the west Kimberley’s macrotidal fringing reefs, under the supervision of Ryan Lowe and Jim Falter.

 


Mélanie Hamel

JCU PhD Student
Contact: melanie.hamel@my.jcu.edu.au

Melanie b&WMel grew up in a fishing town situated between limestone cliffs in upper Normandy in France. She undertook her MSc (Ecology) at Paris 11 University and did her research project at Charles Darwin University, where she examined the diving behaviour of nesting Olive Ridley Turtles in northern Australia. The extraordinary diversity of people, landscapes and species in the Pacific led her to spend more than four years in the region to expand her knowledge and gain experience in conservation science. She worked on various research projects in terrestrial and marine science in Australia for the School for Environmental Research (Charles Darwin University), in New Zealand for the Leigh Marine Laboratory (Auckland University), and in New Caledonia for the French Research Institute for Development (IRD) before she felt ready for the next step. Mel is currently undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Prof. Bob Pressey (JCU) and Dr. Serge Andrefouet (IRD). She will be evaluating, for Solomon Islands, the potential of coral reef habitat maps to serve as proxies for information on socio-economic variables and biodiversity, for use in conservation planning.


Jess Hopf

JCU PhD Student
Contact: jess.hopf@gmail.com

Jess Hopf_1Jess grew up exploring the intertidal rock-pools characteristic of the chilly Melbourne coast. It was here that her passion for marine science was born. After a working holiday teaching chemistry and physics in Vanuatu she decided to fulfill her childhood dreams by moving to Townville to complete her BSc (Hons) in marine biology at JCU. Her honours work focused on how we could utilise jellyfish statoliths (gravity sensing structures) to explore the ecology of jellyfish medusae.  Adopting a less gelatinous career path, Jess is now working on her PhD in marine ecological modelling. Her current work focuses on using a metapopulation framework to assess the implications of marine reserve networks for the commercially and recreationally important coral trout. She is under the supervision of Prof. Sean Connolly, Prof. Geoff Jones, and Dr. David Williamson.


Vera Horigue

JCU PhD Student
Contact: vera.horigue@my.jcu.edu.au

Vera was majoring in Theatre Arts in high school on the slopes of Mt. Makiling, when she suddenly decided to become a Marine Biologist instead. She has a B.Sc. in Biology from the University of the Philippines (UP), and did an honours project on roundscads. An Erasmus Mundus Studentship made it possible for her to earn a joint M.Sc. degree in Water and Coastal Management from Universidad de Cadiz in Spain and University of Plymouth in the UK. Since then she focused on research and management of marine protected areas (MPAs). As a research assistant for various NGOs and the UP Marine Science Institute (MSI), she was able to see how rich her country is in terms of natural resources and how much it is also exploited because of high resource dependence. Vera is supervised by Prof. Bob Pressey, Dr. Simon Foale and Dr. Porfirio Aliño of the MSI. Her research aims to examine governance systems and processes that contribute to effective local government coordination and collaboration when scaling up to form MPA networks in the Philippines.


Matthew Jankowski

JCU PhD Student
Contact: matthew.jankowski@my.jcu.edu.au

Matt was originally born in Melbourne Australia, but left before he was one and grew up in Cambridge in the UK. He started scuba diving around the age of 15 which is when he developed his interest in the marine sciences. Matt did his undergraduate studies at Newcastle University in the UK and always had an interest in tropical marine biology, in particular coral reefs. He then undertook a master of applied science degree in marine biology at JCU in Townsville where he learnt more about coral reefs and tropical marine biology in general. In his last semester he did a research project under the supervision of Geoff Jones looking at the effects of depth and aspect on coral reef fish distributions on reefs in Kimbe Bay, PNG. Matt is now a research student studying the effects of depth on the distribution, habitat use and specialisation of coral reef fishes. He is supervised by Professor Geoff Jones and Dr Nick Graham and has carried out work on both the GBR and the reefs of Kimbe Bay, PNG.


Young Koo Jin

JCU PhD Student
Contact: youngkoo.jin@my.jcu.edu.au

Young grew up in Kyoto, Japan. He undertook his Bsc and Honours in Marine Biology and Ecology with a supervisor, Sandie Degnan at the University of Queensland in Australia. His Honours research investigated transcriptional responses of heat shock family genes to heat stress in the intertidal abalone, Haliotis asinina in an ecological context. Following the completion of Honours, he went back to Japan and took molecular genetics jobs at Drosophila Genetic Resource Center, Center for Ecological Research (Kyoto University) and the Laboratory of Marine and Biological Function (Kyoto University), all based in Kyoto. Experiences during his career have shaped his passion for evolutionary patterns at the genetic level and interest in ecological genetics. He is currently undertaking his PhD at James Cook University under the supervision of Dr. Petra Lundgren (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority), Dr. Madeleine van Oppen (Australian Institute of Marine Science), Dr. Andrew Negri (AIMS) and Prof. Bette Willis (JCU). His PhD project aims to find multiple genetic markers that correlate with environmental gradients in coral populations and validate the association between the markers and phenotypic response. Identification of genetic loci for stress tolerance will allow spatial vulnerability mapping and will assist in implementing a range of conservation strategies, including better informed preservation and restoration efforts.


James Kerry

JCU PhD student
Contact: mr.james.kerry@gmail.com

James_Kerry1

James grew up in the UK but first learned to dive while living in Cape Town, South Africa. After several years working in politics, James made the leap into marine biology, completing his MAppSc at James Cook University in Townsville in 2011. His PhD project, supervised by Prof. David Bellwood, concerns the ecology of large reef fishes with a specific focus on their sheltering behaviour beneath umbriferous structure on coral reefs. James also works as a freelance writer in Australia, specialising in science communication.


­ Michael Kramer

JCU PhD student
Contact: michael.kramer@my.jcu.edu.au

Born and raised in New Zealand, Michael developed his passion for the marine world through exploration of the rocky coastline and diving the reefs in the Bay of Plenty. He completed his BSc (Hons) at JCU in 2011, during which he investigated the invertebrate fauna of the epilithic algal matrix, and their fish predators, on Orpheus Island. Following the completion of Honours, he then progressed onto a PhD at the beginning of 2012 under the supervision of Prof. David Bellwood and Dr. Orpha Bellwood. His research is investigating the different communities of invertebrates (particularly crustaceans) and cryptic fish in different reef habitats throughout the GBR. Additionally, he intends to examine the strength of the trophic relationship between the benthic crustaceans and the fish that feed on them, and how these interactions are maintained under different environmental conditions.


Joleah Lamb

JCU PhD Student
Contact: joleah.lamb@jcu.edu.au

Joleah completed a BS in Neurobiology at the University of Oregon in the USA. As an undergraduate, she assisted in the investigation of Drosophila central nervous system development for cancer research at the Oregon Institute of Neuroscience and Molecular Biology. Her interest in disease research led her to the Oregon Center for Clinical Investigations where she coordinated clinical pharmaceutical studies for the treatment of neurological diseases and disorders. In 2011, she was awarded an AIMS@JCU research scholarship to undertake her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Bette Willis and Prof. Garry Russ from JCU, and Dr. Britta Schaffelke with AIMS.  Due to the growing demand for coastal and reef-based recreation, tourism, port development and gas/minerals exploration, many industries are focusing more and more on the world’s remaining natural marine areas for expansion. However, the influence of these industries on coral disease has not been examined. Joleah’s research focuses primarily on identifying and mitigating the effects of reef-based industries on coral health and disease in Australia and the Indo-Pacific.


Susannah Leahy

JCU PhD Student
Contact: susannah.leahy@my.jcu.edu.au

Susannah grew up in the United States and France. She pursued training as an ecologist while completing her undergraduate degree at the George Washington University, and was all set to begin working in terrestrial systems. However, she was sidetracked into marine ecology by a research experience with NOAA as a Hollings Scholar, and has never looked back. Following a Shapiro research fellowship at James Cook University, she decided to stay on, completing a Masters of Applied Science degree in marine biology. She has now begun a PhD in which she will investigate the effectiveness of small, community-based marine reserves in the Philippines at protecting the range of habitats required by fishery species that change habitat with ontogeny. Her work is being completed under the supervision of Prof. Garry Russ, Dr. Rene Abesamis, and Prof. Michael Kingsford. Outside of her university life, Susannah is an avid kayaker and enjoys sunrises, sunsets, and long walks anywhere but the beach.


Anne Leitch

JCU PhD Student
Contact: anne.leitch@csiro.au

Anne Leitch has a background in marine ecology but these days spends more time as a social scientist. During her PhD, Anne will work with two communities adjacent to, and dependent on, the Great Barrier Reef to develop an integrated assessment of their adaptive capacity and planned response options to climate change. Anne has a BSc (Hons) from University of Sydney and Masters in Communication from QUT.


Mauro Lepore

UQ PhD Student
Contact: mauro.lepore@uqconnect.edu.au

Mauro is interested in the long term dynamics of coral reefs in areas particularly affected by human development. Under the supervision of John Pandolfi and Jian-xin Zhao, Mauro is doing a PhD in the Marine Palaeo Ecology Lab at the University of Queensland. His PhD investigates what coral reefs where like before and after European settlement in Queensland (Australia) in order to evaluate the role of human impacts in coral reefs decline. In particular, Mauro is studying the case of the Keppel Islands, southern Great Barrier Reef. Mauro believes that science gave him the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and gain invaluable knowledge and experiences.


Mei-Fang Lin

JCU PhD Student
Contact: meifang.lin@my.jcu.edu.au

Mei-Fang is originally from Taiwan. She completed her BSc in Natural Science Education in National Taitung University in 2006 and MSc in Marine Biology in National Taiwan University in 2008. After working at Academia Sinica for three years, she moved to Townsville to start her PhD in the School of Pharmacy and Molecular Sciences, JCU. Her PhD research focuses on using genomic approaches to understand coral evolution.


Alicia Lloyd (nee Crawley)

UTS PhD Student
Contact: alicia2lloyd@gmail.com

Alicia grew up in Sydney but decided that James Cook University in Townsville would be the best place to study, with the Great Barrier Reef on their doorstep. After completing her degree in Marine Biology and Chemistry, Alicia moved to Brisbane and received first class honours at The University of Queensland for her research on coral photobiology and ocean acidification on Orpheus Island. For her PhD, Alicia completed most of her field work on Heron Island and Lizard Island and she is now writing her thesis back in her home town at the University of Technology, Sydney. Currently, Alicia is taking a break to have her first child, due at the end of August 2012.


Judi Lowe

JCU PhD Student
Contact: judilowe@gmail.com

Judi LoweAs an accountant and lawyer, Judi has focused on fisheries, marine environment and maritime issues from commercial, policy, legislative and international law perspectives, in government and the private sector.
Judi is also a PADI dive instructor (on the Great Barrier Reef and in temperate waters), a commercial boat operator and an avid dive tourist to many of the world’s most bio diverse coral reefs. Judi is interested in the nexus between dive tourism on coral reefs, marine conservation and the livelihoods of people living in poverty and relying on coral reefs for income, food security and wellbeing in less developed countries.
Her PhD research focuses on the role of dive tourism as a private sector participant in integrated coastal management, particularly its capacity to provide alternate livelihoods for artisanal fishers who are often the customary owners of coral reefs and marine resources. Judi’s principal supervisor is Professor Bob Pressey. Her supervisory committee consists of Professor Natalie Stoeckl, Dr Christina Hicks and Dr Vanessa Adams .


Rafael Magris

JCU PhD student
Contact: rafael.magris@my.jcu.edu.au

Rafael studied Oceanography at the Federal University of Espirito Santo, Brazil. In 2008, he concluded his master research project in the same university. His project was focused on zooplankton variability at different temporal scales. Since 2007, he has worked at the Brazilian Ministry of Environment. His main activities included the developement of conservation measures for threatened marine species and the proposition of new marine protected area for Brazilian marine ecosystems. His PhD examinates the incorporation of biological process and dynamic threats into a conservation planning approach for the most biologically important coral reef area in the southern Atlantic Ocean


Hannah Markham

UQ PhD Student
Contact
: h.markham@uq.edu.au

Hannah Markham_1Hannah completed her undergraduate BSc (Hons) at the University of Swansea, UK where her dissertation was on the Anthropogenic Impacts on the Coral Reefs of Roatan, Honduras. She then went on to live in the field in Madagascar for 2 ½ years where she ran the research component of a small volunteer-based NGO conducting a baseline assessment of the tropical marine habitats and developed a number of new survey methodologies. Following her return to the UK she then took two masters courses, the first in Aquatic Biology and Resource Management at the University of Exeter in 2007 that led to field research on Cousin Island, Seychelles investigating the drivers for the lack of reef recovery following the 1998 bleaching event. Later in 2008 she completed her second course in Tropical Coastal Management at the University of Newcastle, which involved a research project on coral immunity at JCU in Townsville. Her PhD now expands her passion for benthic ecology into a historical dimension by reconstructing past reef assemblages to investigate the effect of anthropogenic stressors on the inshore reefs of the GBR in the wet tropics.


Alyssa Marshell

UQ PhD Student
Contact
: a.marshell@uq.edu.au

Alyssa was lucky to spend her teenage years growing up on the gorgeous northern New South Wales coast, where she snorkelled regularly and learnt to dive as part of the high school curriculum there. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree majoring in marine biology at James Cook University in Townsville before heading off to explore the world working in the dive and tourism industries. Alyssa eventually ended up at the University of Guam Marine Lab in Guam, Micronesia where she completed her Masters of Science degree investigating unicornfish movement patterns and population dynamics under the supervision of Dr Jennifer McIlwain, and worked as a Graduate Research Assistant with the Government of Guam Coral Reef Monitoring Group. Alyssa is currently a PhD candidate investigating the ecological roles of herbivorous surgeonfish on coral reefs, under the supervision of Professor Peter Mumby, Dr Alastair Harborne and Dr Ian Tibbetts.


Robert Mason

UQ PhD Student
Contact: Robert.mason1@uq.net.au

Robert grew up in Sydney and completed a Bachelor of Science (Honours) at Macquarie University, with a focus on ecology, genetics and bioclimatic modelling. A period of volunteering in ecological restoration at Lord Howe Island illuminated to him the threats faced by coral reefs (mass bleaching occurred soon after he had visited the Island), and this led him to UQ to start a PhD in 2011. His project examines the physiology of coral stress caused by high temperature and irradiance, with the aim of improving remote methods of predicting coral bleaching through better physiological knowledge. He is supervised by A/Prof. Sophie Dove, Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Dr. William Skirving and Dr. Bronte Tilbrook. Between his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, he worked as a molecular biologist at The Australian Museum in Sydney.


Ian McLeod

JCU PhD Student
Contact: ianmcleodnz@gmail.com

Originally from New Zealand, Ian completed his BSc and MSc through the University of Auckland. Ian has worked in 18 countries, including every continent. His previous roles include: Ranger on a small conservation island in NZ, filmmaker in Africa, personal trainer in London, head chef on a super yacht based out of Spain, environmental consultant, contract diver, pollution response officer, research officer in Antarctica, and English teacher in a small village on the foothills of the Himalayas.
Realising that little more consistency in his CV would be a good idea, Ian moved to Townsville to concentrate on building a career in research commencing with a PhD through James Cook University in April 2010. Ian’s research focuses on the impacts of sea surface temperatures on the early life history stages of coral reef fish and
the consequences on these impacts on the connectivity of reef fish populations. Specifically it addresses: What are the relationships between natural temperature gradients (spatial and temporal) and the early life history traits of coral reef fishes? What are the effects of ocean warming on the early grown, survival and body condition of juvenile reef fish at equatorial regions, where they may already be living at or beyond their thermal optima? What are the interacting impacts of temperature and variable food supply on the performance of reef fish larvae. This research is supervised by Professors Geoffrey Jones, Mark McCormick and Philip Munday from JCU along with Dr Timothy Clark from AIMS.


Morana Mihaljević

UQ PhD student
Contact: m.mihaljevic@uq.edu.au

Since originally from Croatia, Morana’s interest and love towards marine life (especially benthic invertebrates, e.g. echinoids, corals) stated on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Morana started studying biology at the University of Zagreb and then continued at the University of Zurich where she completed her BSc in Biology and MSc in Palaeontology. She is currently enrolled as a PhD student at the University of Queensland under the supervision of Prof. John Pandolfi. Morana is studying the evolution of coral reefs in the South China Sea throughout the last 35 MY.


Amin Mohamed Esmail

 JCU PhD student
Contact: amin.mohamedesmail@my.jcu.edu.au

Amin was born in Egypt where he completed his BSc in Zoology (excellent degree with honors) in 2006. He worked as a teaching assistant at Faculty of Science, Benha University, Egypt. As he developed a great interest in coral reef research, he did a Masters project on coral health and disease in the Egyptian Red Sea. This project provided baseline information on coral disease, coral bleaching, and other health issues that affect coral reefs in this region. Amin has been awarded a PhD scholarship from the Egyptian government. He is now a PhD student at David Miller’s lab, the ARC center of Excellence for coral reef studies, James Cook University. Amin’s PhD is supervised by Prof David Miller and Prof Bette Willis. His research focuses on studying the impact of newly discovered coral associated alveolates on coral health. Yet, the nature of these associations is unknown so it is unclear whether they have positive or negative impact on coral health.


Lauren Nadler

JCU PhD Student
Contact: lauren.nadler@my.jcu.edu.au

Lauren NadlerLauren grew up in New Jersey (USA), and developed her love of the ocean from a fortuitous trip to the local aquarium at age five. This interest led her to the Boston University Marine Program, through which she spent a semester at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. After earning her BA in marine science in 2007, Lauren travelled for three years, earning her dive master SCUBA qualification and working with marine species ranging from scallops to sea turtles around the world. In 2010, she went back to school to complete her Master of Research degree at the University of Glasgow (Scotland), where her dissertation examined the relationship between coral morphology and fish density in the Red Sea. Finally, Lauren landed in Australia in 2013, when she started her PhD with Mark McCormick, Phil Munday, Paolo Domenici, and Jacob Johansen at James Cook University. Her current work examines the combined effects of ocean acidification and temperature on schooling behavior in coral reef fish.


Jessica Nowicki

JCU PhD Student
Contact: jessica.nowicki@my.jcu.edu.au

jess_nowicki_1Having been born and raised in Wisconsin, USA, Jess hadn’t become enlightened (i.e., seen the ocean) until she was 17, during a vacation to North Carolina. With much bewilderment, she realized there was more meaning to life than Miller Light beer and ridiculously good cheese.By exchanging her cheese head for fins; she embarked upon her journey toward becoming a marine biologist. From 2008-2010, she focused her research on the effects of ocean acidification and increased sea surface temperatures on the behaviour of marine invertebrates and fishes. Today, she has shifted her PhD research direction towards examining the extent to which anthropogenically-appreciated social bonding traits such as “trust”, cooperation, monogamy and parental care exist among fishes. Furthermore, she aims to elucidate whether such bonding traits operate according to the same psychobiological mechanisms by which they operate in higher vertebrates, namely the oxytocinergic system. Using scientific rigour, she hopes to make a career of building a scientific and public appreciation for the extent to which lower evolved vertebrates can socially bond in ways appreciated among higher taxa, such as humans. Her PhD supervisors are Dr. Stefan Walker and Prof. Morgan Pratchett from ARC CoE for Coral reef Studies; and Dr. Lauren O’Connell, from Harvard University.


Maria del Mar Palacios

JCU PhD Student
Contact: maria.palaciosotero@my.jcu.edu.au

Maria_Palacios_ThumbMaria grew up in Cali (Colombia) and completed her BSc in Biology at Universidad del Valle. Before graduating in 2010, she fell in love with coral reef fish while studying the structure and composition of fish communities from Gorgona and Malpelo Islands (Eastern tropical Pacific). Guided by professor Fernando Zapata and associated to the Coral Reef Ecology research group, Maria won a research grant to study the impacts of pufferfish corallivory on pocilloporid reefs and led numerous research projects describing the coral reefs of the Colombian Pacific Coast (funded by WWF and TNC). In 2013 she moved to Australia to begin her Phd at JCU under the supervision of Professor Mark McCormick. Her research focuses on interactions among reef fish mesopredators and how these can be modified by the fear responses to top predators and by intra/ interspecific guild dynamics.


Allison Paley

JCU PhD Student
Contact: allison.paley@my.jcu.edu.au

Allison is originally from the east coast of the States where a shared love for playing in rock pools on the coastlines of Maine Islands and ballet led her to study a dual BSc/BA in Aquatic Biology and Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara. After a study-abroad stint in Australia, she transferred to James Cook University (JCU) and pursued her interest in coral reef ecology, later graduating with a BSc in Marine Biology (although she still dances at every opportunity). Now finishing her PhD through JCU and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Allison’s research focuses on understanding the influence of coral fluorescent proteins in mitigating coral stress.  She is co-supervised by Professor Bette Willis (JCU) and Drs. Line Bay and Madeleine van Oppen of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). After completing her PhD in 2012 Allison is looking forward to a career in science communication and education (and perhaps even finding a way to bring dance into the marine world).


Pedro Henrique Cipresso Pereira

JCU PhD Student
Contact: pedro.pereira@my.jcu.edu.au
http://www.pereiraphc.com/

pedro_thumbPedro is originally from Brazil were he did Postgraduate on Tropical Coastal Environmental Management – Specialization level at Federal University of Pernambuco (2009), and Master in Oceanography at Federal University of Pernambuco (2011). He is currently enrolled on a PhD at James Cook University (JCU – Australia) studying competition, habitat selection and imprinting of coral-dwelling fishes at the GBR under the supervision of professor Philip Munday and Geoffrey Jones. He is also leading the Reef Conservation Project (http://www.conservacaorecifal.com/) in the Northeast Brazil performing direct conservation action for the reef and increasing local community development. 


Chiara Pisapia

JCU PhD Student
Contact: chiara.pisapia@my.jcu.edu.au

Chiara is originally from Rome, Italy where she completed both her Undergraduate and Postgraduate degree in Marine Science. She always dreamed about doing research on coral reefs and after working in Indonesia she moved to Townsville in 2009 to start a Master of Applied Science in Marine Biology. In 2012 Chiara started her PhD in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and AIMS@JCU, she is interested in understanding intraspecific variation in the ability of corals to withstand disturbances. Her PhD is entitled: Drivers of colony-level variation in condition and resilience for reef-building corals.


Davina Poulos

JCU PhD Student
Contact: Davina.poulos@my.jcu.edu.au

Davina_Poulos1Davina grew up in Sydney, Australia, where she completed her BSc in Marine Biology at the University of Technology, Sydney, and gained first class Honours researching the distribution and biodiversity value of an uncommon temperate soft coral species. During her studies, Davina gained further experience assisting with state-wide surveys for the NSW Marine Parks Authority and conducting volunteer work for NSW Fisheries. Seeking warm tropical waters, she commenced a PhD at James Cook University in 2012 where she is researching prior residency effects in fish communities, supervised by Prof. Mark McCormick. She hopes to discover how prior residents influence the establishment and persistence of individuals entering a local community and what affect this has on the dynamics of fish communities, particularly in light of our changing environment.


Martina De Freitas Prazeres

UQ PhD Student
Contact: m.prazeres@uq.edu.au

Martina P_1Martina is originally from Brazil, and completed her BSc in Marine Biology at the Universidade Federal Fluminense,  where she studied the anthropogenic impacts on the coral reefs from Bahia and Pernambuco (Northeast region) using benthic foraminifera as bioindicators. Afterwards, she finished her MSc in Biological Oceanography in 2009 expanding her work to offshore coral communities located in the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago. For her PhD, she is interested in applying symbiont-bearing foraminifera as bioindicators to detect changes through time and space along the Great Barrier Reef, and how we can use them to identify changes driven by climate change and local impacts in coral reef ecosystems.


Justin Rizzari

JCU PhD Student
Contact: justin.rizzari@my.jcu.edu.au

Justin grew up in Texas along the Gulf Coast of Mexico where his interests in the ocean began at an early age when he began surfing and fishing. After trips to the Caribbean and Central America he began to gain a keen interest in tropical marine life. He graduated from Texas A & M in Corpus Christi with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with a concentration on marine and coastal resources. Participating in a research program in tropical marine ecology in the Caribbean and working at a coral lab in the Red Sea solidified his desire to study the marine environment, specifically coral reef associated ecosystems. He then moved to Townsville in 2011 to start a Master of Applied Science at JCU, and studied the effect of reef shark behaviour across different levels of management zones. His current PhD focuses on the effects of predators on coral reef trophic ecology, which is conducted under the supervision of Prof. Mark McCormick, Dr. Ashley Frisch, Dr. Andrew Hoey and Dr. Mark Meekan.


Jan Robinson

JCU PhD Student
Contact: jan.robinson@my.jcu.edu.au

Jan left the UK on a short expedition almost 15 years ago and still hasn’t found his way back. This may have something to do with the fact that beer tastes better in warm climates. Having completed a BSc in Marine Biology at University College of Swansea, Wales, and then a master’s degree in Applied Marine Science at the University of Plymouth, Jan joined the Royal Geographical Society Shoals of Capricorn programme and went to Seychelles. The allure of tropical seas proved irresistible and he went on to become the manager of the Fisheries Research Unit of the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA). In 10-years working at SFA, Jan developed research interests focusing on a broad spectrum of tropical fish, ranging from rabbitfish to tunas. His research included studies on the effects of fishing on reef fish spawning aggregations, the impacts of climate change on small-island developing state economies, and the effects of coral bleaching on reef fisheries. He also held numerous responsibilities with regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) and is currently vice-chair of the Scientific Committee of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). Jan joined ARC CoE to study for a PhD in April 2012. Under the wise guidance of Nick Graham, Josh Cinner and Glenn Almany, Jan will be focusing on how the social behaviour of reef fish influences their vulnerability to fishing.


Liza Roger

UWA PhD Student
Contact: rogerl01@student.uwa.edu.au

Liza completed the two first years of her BSc in France, where she originally comes from, and her final year in Perth at the University of Western Australia. Liza acquired great hands-on experience while working for the Australian Institute of Marine Science (WA branch) for 3 years. She completed her Honours in 2010, comparing the shell structure of two tropical sea butterflies (pteropods) from 1963 to 2009 and the potential implications of declining aragonite saturation. Liza is currently continuing her research with a PhD at the Centre of Excellence, studying calcification and chemical composition of pteropod shells (trace elements, isotopes) for the better understanding and monitoring of the effects of Global Climate Change and Ocean Acidification on shelled pteropods.


Theresa Rueger

JCU PhD Student
Contact: theresa.rueger@my.jcu.edu.au

Theresa RuegerTheresa grew up in northern Germany and completed her BSc degree in Kiel, which included a research project at the IFM Geomar. During her undergraduate studies she volunteered with various conservation and research organisations and after some work with Discovery Bay marine lab in Jamaica, decided to dedicate herself to coral reef studies. She came to James Cook University in February 2011 to complete a MAppSc in marine biology and did a research project with Naomi Gardiner, which led to a PhD with Geoff Jones looking at social relationships in small habitat- dependent coral reef fish, for which she combines ecological, behavioural and genetic approaches.


Jessie Short

UWA PhD Student
Contact:shortj02@student.uwa.edu.au

Jessie Short_1Jessie grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada, where she fell in love with the ocean. She attended Dalhousie University in Halifax, where she completed a combined honours degree in marine biology and oceanography under the supervision of Dr. Anna Metaxas. After hearing tales of the wild and wonderfully untouched Ningaloo Reef, Jessie moved to Western Australia in 2011 to begin her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Malcolm McCulloch and Prof. Gary Kendrick. She is interested in how climate change will affect calcification rates of important WA reef-building species such as corals and coralline algae. She is also investigating how interactions between algal taxa will change as the ocean becomes more acidic.


Tiffany Sih

JCU PhD Student
Contact:Tiffany.Sih@my.jcu.edu.au

Tiffany Sih
Tiffany grew up in California and, after finishing her BSc in Biological Sciences at University of Southern California, worked in Alaska as a fisheries observer before moving to Hawaii to work in marine education and conservation. She worked as a SCUBA Instructor, obtained her captain’s license, and climbed several mountains before she willingly returned to her studies. She completed a MAppSci in Marine Biology at James Cook University in 2012. Beginning a PhD in 2013, Tiffany is investigating the tropical deep-reef fish community under the supervision of Prof. Michael Kingsford (JCU and ARC CoE), Dr. Mike Cappo (Australian Institute of Marine Science) and Dr. Ashley Williams (Secretariat of the Pacific Community).


Brigitte Sommer

UQ PhD Student
Contact: b.sommer@uq.edu.au

Brigitte’s research focuses on ecological dynamics and conservation of subtropical benthic reef communities of Eastern Australia in a changing climate. She quantitatively examines changes of coral and benthic communities and of their functional characteristics along a latitudinal gradient of eight degrees (24°48’S to 32°48’S) south of the Great Barrier Reef. Her research integrates aspects of ecology, statistical modelling and systematic conservation planning to provide insights into (1) spatial ecological dynamics of high-latitude coral and benthic communities along environmental gradients, (2) the mechanisms that drive their community assembly, and (3) whether existing reserve networks will fulfil conservation objectives under projected future change. Understanding the processes that govern community assembly of high-latitude reefs will prove critical to conserving them in the face of future change. Brigitte’s PhD research is supervised by Professor John Pandolfi (UQ), Dr. Maria Beger (UQ), Professor Peter Harrison (Southern Cross University) and Dr. Russ Babcock (CSIRO).


Jessica Stella

JCU PhD Student
Contact: jessica.stella@my.jcu.edu.au

Jessica grew up near Boston in the USA and became passionate about marine science after she began diving in the chilly waters of the Eastern US. She spent a year living in Bermuda undertaking a double internship as an aquarist for the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo and conducting seagrass and coral baseline surveys as part of the BREAM Programme with the Bermuda Zoological Society. She also volunteered with the Bermuda Turtle Project tagging and collecting DNA from juvenile green turtles. She then moved to Townsville to complete a BSc (Honours) at JCU in 2008 and began her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Geoffrey Jones, Dr. Morgan Pratchett and Dr. Philip Munday from JCU, and collaborations with Dr. Pat Hutchings of the Australian Museum and Dr. Elvira Poloczanska of CSIRO. Her research aims to expand our taxonomic knowledge of reef invertebrate species, examine the level of habitat specialisation exhibited by many coral associated invertebrates and also to determine ! the effects that climate change may have on invertebrate biodiversity.


Chun Hong Tan

JCU PhD Student
Contact: chunhong.tan@my.jcu.edu.au

Chun Hong (James) was born and bred in Penang, the “Pearl of the Orient” off the northwestern coast of Peninsular Malaysia. His interest in corals and everything-underwater began when he was doing his Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology some 8 years ago. Throughout the duration of the degree, he developed a passion in studying the biology of corals, which led him to a Master’s degree, also in Marine Biology, where he studied the gametogenesis cycle of hard corals in South China Sea in the past 3 years. James is still pursuing his passion in corals and is currently doing his Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Baird, Dr. Line Bay and Dr. Morgan Pratchett; exploring the correlation between environmental cues and growth and reproduction, as well as investigating the effects of stress on trade-off between these vital functions. When not working on his research project, he enjoys underwater photography, diving and socializing.


Brett Taylor

JCU PhD Student
Contact: brettmtaylor@gmail.com

Brett Taylor_1Originally from the United States, Brett came to Australia from Micronesia where he spent seven years at the University of Guam Marine Laboratory working mostly in the Mariana and Caroline islands. His research interests are primarily age-based demography, community ecology and movement patterns of coral reef fishes and how these relate to fisheries management. He is currently a PhD candidate investigating life histories and patterns of community structure of exploited Indo-Pacific parrotfishes at multiple spatial scales under the supervision of Professors Howard Choat and Garry Russ.


Loic Thibaut

JCU and Pierre & Marie Curie PhD Student
Contact: loic.thibaut@my.jcu.edu.au

Loic was born and raised in France. After completing a Master degree in theoretical computer science at the University of Nancy, he worked as an IT for more than 10 years, mainly overseas. He developed a strong interest in marine ecology while working in Africa on a European Union funded fisheries management project and decided to go back to university. Today he is a PhD student at JCU and University Pierre & Marie Curie, supervised by Prof. Terry Hughes, A.Prof. Sean Connolly and Prof. Rene Galzin. His research focuses on modelling approaches to reef fish assemblages resilience using data from long term monitoring programs.


Jeroen van de Water

JCU PhD Student
Contact: jeroen.vandewater@my.jcu.edu.au

jeroenMy background: Since I was a little boy I have always been interested in animals/nature and I was always attracted to the water. It was no surprise that I decided to study Biology and I finished my BSc cum laude at Utrecht University, The Netherlands in 2005. However, my interest shifted towards the molecular cell biology and I continued my education with a MSc in Biomolecular Sciences (graduated cum laude in 2007) at Utrecht University. In the following 2.5 years, I worked as a pre-doctoral research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston, United States of America on the development of stem cell-based brain cancer therapies. But after spending so many years being locked up in the lab, I wanted to do something more exciting and in the field where my heart truly lies: Marine Biology. Current situation: James Cook University gave me that opportunity by providing me with a scholarship and I joined JCU in July 2010. Currently, I am doing my PhD with Bette Willis and Bill Leggat from JCU, and Madeleine van Oppen and David Bourne from AIMS. My research focuses on the immune system of scleractinian corals and the effect that environmental and physiological factors have on the ability of corals to fight disease. Thesis title: Molecular mechanisms of immunity in scleractinian corals and the influence of environmental factors on coral immuno-competence.


Francisco Vidal Ramirez

UQ PhD Student
Contact: francisco.vidalramirez@uq.net.au

Frnacisco Vidal RamirezFrancisco is from Chile, where he obtained his degree of Marine Biologist at the University of Valparaiso after the completion of a thesis focused on cytogenetics of rocky shore mussels. Immediately after this, he obtained a position for 4 years at the coastal station for marine research (ECIM) from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, where he was involved in research that was focused on ecology, photobiology, thermal tolerance, climate change impact and fisheries of marine invertebrates, working along with interdisciplinary groups at the international laboratory of climate change (LINCGlobal) and the Mediterranean institute of advance studies (IMEDEA) in Mallorca, Spain. Ended this period, Francisco moved to Australia to join the Coral Reef Ecosystems Laboratory (CRE Lab) at the University of Queensland where he is currently undertaking his PhD under the supervision of A/Professor Sophie Dove, A/Professor Gene Tyson and Dr. Maria Byrne from the University of Sydney. His PhD project assesses the effects of different ocean warming and ocean acidification scenarios on the performance of sea cucumbers in different processes such as calcium carboate dissolution, recycling of nutrients and the interaction between these invertebrates and different communities present in the sediments they process.


Peter Waldie

JCU PhD Student
Contact: peter.waldie@my.jcu.edu.au

Peter became interested in coral reef ecology when he realised it held the opportunity for perpetual tropical holidaying. He is a keen diver, spearo and fisherman. He completed his BMarSt (Honours) at The University of Queensland in 2009, investigating the role of cleaner wrasse on client fish assemblages at Lizard Island. Since then he has endeavoured to spend as much time as possible in the water. In 2012, Peter commenced his PhD candidature under the supervision of Glenn Almany, Josh Cinner, Richard Hamilton and John Pandolfi. His work is focused on commercially important grouper spawning aggregations in Papua New Guinea – investigating relevant biological spatial scales for management (e.g. larval dispersal and home range). He is particularly interested in integrating contemporary management programs into existing customary marine tenure systems.


Justin Q. Welsh

JCU PhD Student
Contact: justin.q.welsh@gmail.com

Justin was born in Canada, and after spending a significant amount of time diving in the Caribbean, he move to Australia to pursue a career in marine biology at James Cook University. After completing his BSc Honours degree in 2010, he started working on his PhD under the supervision of Prof. David Bellwood. Justin’s work focuses on the spatial ecology of coral reef fishes, with the majority of his research aimed at understanding the implications of the spatial biology of herbivorous fishes. Justin uses both passive and active acoustic telemetry to tack individual fish and evaluate their home ranging behaviour, as well as the ecological implications of their movements on coral reefs. In his spare time, he enjoys living an active lifestyle, spending a great deal of time rock-climbing, hiking and swimming.


Wiebke Wessels

JCU PhD Student
Contact: wiebke.wessels@my.jcu.edu.au

Wiebke was born and raised in Hannover, Germany. Very early she decided that she wants to work as a marine biologist. For her undergraduate studies, Wiebke therefore moved to Bremen to study Biology with a focus on Marine Biology. She conducted the research for her Bachelor Thesis on the oxygen consumption rates in gill tissue of the Ocean quahog Arctica islandica under hypoxia at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute in Bremerhaven. While studying in France for a year duing high school, she learnt to enjoy living abroad. So after graduating from the University of Bremen, Wiebke took the chance to complete the first year of her Master Studies in Marine Biology at the Ocean University of China in Qingdao. Following her year in China, Wiebke continued her studies at the University of Bremen and started her Master Thesis on gene expression patterns in the Ocean quahog Arctica islandica under hypoxia/anoxia and reoxygenation at the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology in Kiel.
During her volunteer work for coral spawning, she became aware of and interested in the different developmental strategies of corals at the GBR. In 2012 Wiebke started her PhD under the supervision of Dr David Miller focussing on transcriptomic analysis of hard and soft coral developement.


James White

JCU PhD Student
Contact: james.ryan.white@gmail.com
James WhiteJames first started snorkeling in various locations around the Caribbean at the tender age of 5, eagerly pointing out every fish he saw to anybody that would listen to his garbled shouts of excitement emitting from his snorkel. He got scuba certified as early as possible at the age of 12 and continued to explore more of the marine environment in the Caribbean, Mexico and California. An early mentorship under Chuck Norris inspired him give up his job as a crime-fighting sidekick to chase his dream of combining his love of science and diving. This prompted him to complete his BSc in Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2006. Afterwards, (much like a super hero) he felt the world needed him elsewhere, and worked on a coral recruitment study for two years off the west coast of the Big Island, in Hawaii. Inspired by a strong showing of JCU researchers at the 2008 International Coral Reef Symposium, he enrolled in the MAppSci program at JCU in 2009. He’s since upgraded to the PhD program, where he studies under the vigilant eyes of Prof. Mark McCormick (JCU) and Dr. Mark Meekan (AIMS). His research examines the role of boldness and other personality traits in the fitness and other life history tradeoffs of juvenile marine fishes. http://www.jamesryanwhite.com


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