The ARC Centre was headquartered at James Cook University, in Townsville and was a partnership of James Cook University (JCU), The Australian National University (ANU), The University of Queensland (UQ) and The University of Western Australia (UWA). Our national and international partner institutions included the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Center for Ocean Solutions at Stanford University (USA), WorldFish (Malaysia) and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS, France).

The Centre Directors were Professor Terry Hughes (2005-20, JCU) and Professor Graeme Cumming (2020-22, JCU).  Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (UQ) and Professor Malcolm McCulloch (UWA) were the Deputy Directors. The ARC Centre of Excellence focused on 3 research programs, each one under the stewardship of Program Leaders from the four university nodes. The People and Ecosystems program was led by Joshua Cinner (JCU),  Tiffany Morrison (JCU) and Bob Pressey (JCU). The Ecosystem Dynamics: Past, Present and Future program was led by Graeme Cumming (JCU),  Alana Grech (JCU) and John Pandolfi (UQ). The Responding to a Changing World program was led by Maja Adamska (ANU), Mia Hoogenboom (JCU) and Ryan Lowe (UWA)


Providing scientific knowledge that fosters sustainable use, adaptive governance and effective management of the world’s coral reefs to enhance human wellbeing.


The aims of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies were:

Research: Produce research that is world-best, innovative, collaborative, multi-disciplinary and highly relevant to coral reef management, adaptive governance and policy development.

Research training and professional development: Build human capacity and expertise in coral reef science worldwide.

National and international linkages: Create a global hub for integrated coral reef research collaborations.

Impacts and end-user engagement: Exchange and transfer knowledge, technologies and research outcomes with end-users and partners.

Governance: Continuously evolve Centre management to ensure it is co-operative, multi-institutional and communicative.


To lead the global research effort in the provision of scientific knowledge necessary for sustaining the ecosystem goods and services of the world’s coral reefs during a period of unprecedented environmental change.


key moments

We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People as the first inhabitants of the nation, and the Traditional Custodians of the unceded Australian lands where our staff and students live, learn, and work.