People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Coral Reef Futures Symposium 2019


23-24 October 2019

Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney

The Coral Reef Futures symposium of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies will be held at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney on Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th October 2019.


Research on the multi-year global coral bleaching event in 2015-2017 has brought the impact of climate change on coral reefs to the forefront of the public consciousness. At a global scale, the frequency of global mass bleaching of corals due to anthropogenic climate change has increased nearly five-fold since 1980. On the Great Barrier Reef, back-to-back mass bleaching in 2016 and 2017 has transformed the Great Barrier Reef, killing approximately half the region’s shallow-water live coral, triggering a profound shift in the composition of survivors.

The decline of reef-building corals has profound consequences for the rest of the reef ecosystem, reducing biodiversity and affecting many non-coral species such as commercially important fishes. The need for coral reef research to understand these changes has never been greater.

The objective of our research is to inform and support reef governance and management to navigate the transition to new ecosystems that will maintain biodiversity, biological functions and support human well-being.

Who should attend

Two events are scheduled:

A 2-day Symposium will be held on Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th October, with more than 30 presentations by leading scientists. The symposium is aimed at a general audience of scientists in related fields, natural resource managers, conservationists and policy makers. The symposium will be held at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney.

A Public Forum What every Australian should know about climate change is scheduled for 6.00pm (refreshments from 5.30pm) on Wednesday, 23rd October. This event is intended for everyone: the general public, teachers and school children (10+) as well as scientists, resource managers and policy-makers.


Our objectives are to:

  • present the latest science which supports the sustainable management of coral reefs, in Australia, our region and globally
  • focus on the research, management and policy developments for coral reefs
  • present research examining the effects of the changing environment on coral reef ecosystems.
Wednesday 23rd October, Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney 
Time Theme Presenter
8.30am Registration and coffee
9.00am Welcome
Welcome to Country
9.10am Official Opening Chris Cocklin
9.20am Future of Coral Reefs Chair: Terry Hughes
Social-ecological scales and the management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Graeme Cumming
Functional futures for coral reefs David Bellwood
Evaluating the quality of evidence for and against management interventions on coral reefs Peter Mumby
Consecutive years of disease and bleaching on Lord Howe Island Reefs Tracy Ainsworth
10.40am Morning tea
11.15am Future of Coral Reefs (cont.) Chair: Terry Hughes
The Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report and the future landscape for science informing management Jessica Hoey
Global trends and drivers of extreme sea level events at reef coastlines Ryan Lowe
Mechanistic simulations of the Great Barrier Reef to support management interventions Yves-Marie Bozec
A new governance paradigm for coral reefs Tiffany Morrison
12.35pm lunch
1.50pm Global Change Chair: Jodie Rummer
Social networks, social-ecological feedbacks, and power shape responses to climate change. Michele Barnes
Physical mechanisms influencing temperature variability and coral bleaching within a system of reef atolls Rebecca Green
Contaminants in seagrass and green turtle blood: potential impacts on health Jon Brodie
Coral abundance significantly underestimates the full impacts of climate change on coral reef accretion Sophie Dove
 3.10pm Afternoon tea
3.40pm Global Change (cont.) Chair: Jodie Rummer
Uptake of anthropogenic CO2 and the acidification of the upper oceans from pre-industrial to present Malcolm McCulloch
Virginia Chadwick Award:
Mechanisms underpinning coral growth at high-latitude
Claire Ross
Marine invertebrates in a changing world Sue-Ann Watson
Predicted effects of climate driven changes in environmental suitability on coral species migrations and trait distributions John Pandolfi
5.00pm End
6.00pm Public Forum


Thursday 24th October, Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney 
Time Theme Presenter
9.00am Welcome and introductory comments Terry Hughes
9.05am Ecology and Evolution Chair: Tiffany Morrison
Filling in pieces to the COTS puzzle Maria Byrne
Growth and regeneration of a reef building coral Maja Adamska
Climate-driven species re-distribution in marine coastal systems Gretta Pecl
The phylogenomic history of corals: a new age for coral systematics? Peter Cowman
Assessing the climate vulnerability of the world’s natural and cultural heritage. Scott Heron
10.45am Morning tea
11.15am Fish and Fisheries Chair: Josh Cinner
The expatriation of coral-reef species to Sydney and beyond David Booth
You can’t escape your past: how thermal experience of previous generations affect current generation performance Jenni Donelson
Designing connected marine reserves in the face of global warming Jorge Alvarez-Romero
What’s fair and why? Environmental justice and customary management in Papua New Guinea Jacqui Lau
12.40pm lunch
1.40pm Fish and Fisheries (cont.) Chair: Josh Cinner
Glenn Almany Award intro Tom Bridge
Glenn Almany award: Local reef management on a national scale: ecological impacts of Tonga’s Special Management Area program Patrick Smallhorn West
Research for development and food secure futures Pip Cohen
Partially protected zones on the Great Barrier Reef: can they provide a conservation middle ground? April Hall
Larval fish performance under future ocean conditions: implications for dispersal and connectivity of reef fishes Bjorn Illing
Cyclone damage drives patterns of connectivity in reef fish Mike Kingsford
3.30pm Closing remarks
Terry Hughes


Associate Professor Maja Adamska
Maja is a leader of Program 3 in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. From 2007-2015, she was a group leader at the Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology in Bergen, Norway. She is now a Lab Leader, Associate Professor and Future Fellow in the Research School of Biology, Australian National University. Her group studies genomic and evolutionary basis of animal development, homeostasis and repair mechanisms, using sponges and corals as main model systems.

Associate Professor Tracy Ainsworth
Tracy is a Scientia Fellow at the Centre for Marine Science and Innovation at the University of New South Wales. Tracy’s research focuses on coral biology, host-microbe interactions, symbiosis, and the responses of these interactions to environmental change. This research aims to determine how host-microbe interactions influence organism physiology, adaptation and acclimation. Tracy’s research also investigates corals across diverse ocean habitats including shallow, mesophotic, deep and cold water systems, and she also investigates the microbial connectivity in the benthic habitat. Tracy was previously a principal research fellow in the ARC Centre after completing her PhD at the University of Queensland.

Dr Jorge G. Álvarez-Romero
Jorge is a Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University. He is interested in improving spatial planning for natural resource use to achieve long-term sustainability and positive outcomes for people and their environment. His research aims to advance systematic conservation planning theory and practice through promoting and improving the integration of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine conservation planning initiatives. His research explores theoretical and methodological aspects of decision-making problems associated with an integrated land-sea planning approach. For example, cost-effective mitigation of cross-system threats (e.g. land-based pollution affecting marine and freshwater ecosystems), identifying co-benefits and trade-offs associated with different land/water uses and management decisions (e.g. spatial congruence between local and downstream land values), and improving collaboration among stakeholders with diverse (and sometimes conflicting) objectives across the land-to-sea continuum. His current research includes participatory scenario planning to inform integrated catchment management, studying collaboration networks supporting planning for land-water use and management, and designing reserve networks considering ecological connectivity and the effects of global warming.

Dr Michele Barnes
Michele is a Senior Research Fellow in the People and Ecosystems Program at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. Her research draws on theories and methods from sociology and economics to contribute a better understanding of the human side of complex environmental problems. Michele has specialised expertise in social network science, she applies to explore key issues such as: how environmental knowledge spreads through society, how social networks influence environmental behaviour, and how social-ecological interactions drive environmental outcomes. In 2019 Michele was awarded an ARC DECRA Fellowship for her project “How social networks and power shape adaptive action”. This research focuses on both individual fishers and a reef governance institution, aiming to determine the role of social networks and power in shaping adaptive responses to coral bleaching at multiple scales.

Professor David Bellwood
David is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and a Distinguished Professor of Marine Biology at James Cook University. He has broad research interests in the evolution and ecology of coral reef fishes with over 300 articles in leading international journals. A recipient of the IPFC Bleeker Award, AMSA Jubilee Award and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences, David pioneered the application of ecosystem function approaches to the study of coral reefs. His current research focuses on the ecosystem impacts of biodiversity loss and climate change, with the goal of developing new approaches to the management of coral reefs.

Professor David Booth
David Booth is Professor of Marine Ecology at UTS, and past-President of the Australian Coral Reef Society.  He has published over 150 papers in reef-fish ecology, climate change and other anthropogenic impacts on fishes and fisheries, in the Caribbean, Hawaii, Great Barrier Reef, and studies how tropical fish travel down the East Australian Current past Sydney.  He researches fishes in estuaries around Sydney, the ecology and behaviour of threatened fishes such as seadragons, black cod and white sharks and the ecology of the deep sea.  He is also a strong advocate of sustainable fisheries and marine parks. Professor Booth is a core member of SEA SERPENT, a research collaboration between the oil and gas industry and independent scientists in the southeast Asian region. He has a strong record of applying his research to influence government policy, and is active in public communication(numerous media and public lecture appearances annually). He has researched fish recruitment, population dynamics and impacts of pollution in environments including Canadian freshwater lakes, worldwide coral reefs and Australian seagrass systems. He is a prominent researcher on the effects of climate change on marine biota, and recently lead author on a climate change report on temperate fishes.  He is a core member of the Ocean Science Council of Australia.

Dr Yves-Marie Bozec
Yves-Marie is a quantitative ecologist and modeller at The University of Queensland. His research focuses on coral reef dynamics and resilience with a particular interest on providing practical solutions for reef management. Yves-Marie combines demographic models with ecological observations and experiments to develop a mechanistic understanding of processes driving reef recovery and persistence. After receiving a PhD from the University of Pierre and Marie Curie in France and a postdoc in Mexico, he moved to Australia in 2010 to study the resilience of Caribbean reefs to fishing and climate change. He is now investigating the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef to multiple stressors, including thermal stress, poor water quality, cyclone damages and outbreaks of the Crown-of-Thorns starfish.

Professor Jon Brodie
Jon has been involved in both water quality research and management for tropical marine ecosystems for many years. His main focus in recent years has been prioritizing catchment management for the protection of Great Barrier Reef habitats such as seagrass meadows, including turtles and dugong which feed on seagrass, and coral reefs. He has also been involved with many international collaborators studying the management needs of coastal ecosystems throughout south-east Asia, Japan and the Pacific island region. He has published more than 120 peer-reviewed journal articles as well as hundreds of policy advice and technical reports.

Professor Maria Byrne
Dr. Maria Byrne is Professor of Marine and Developmental Biology at the University of Sydney. Maria received her BSc from the National University of Ireland, Galway and her PhD from the University of Victoria, Canada where she investigated the physiology and functional morphology of echinoderms. As a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution, she investigated life history diversity in Caribbean echinoderms. Maria joined the University of Sydney and was the Director of One Tree Island Research Station, Great Barrier Reef for 12 years. She also served as President of the Australian Marine Science Association and on the board of the National Oceans Advisory Group. Professor Byrne’s research on marine invertebrate evolution spans from developmental genetics to morphological evolution. In particular she has advanced knowledge on the important phylum Echinodermata, culminating in a definitive textbook and monograph for Australia. Her research on commercial sea cucumbers is crucial for conservation of these vulnerable species and her work on the Crown of Thorns starfish is providing new insights into the biology of this important species. In current research Professor Byrne investigates the impacts of climate change to understand how animals and their offspring response to ocean warming and acidification and the potential for phenotypic adjustment and evolutionary adaptation to future ocean conditions.

Professor Josh Cinner
Josh’s research explores how social, economic, and cultural factors influence the ways in which people use, perceive, and govern natural resources. His background is in human geography and he often works closely with ecologists to uncover complex linkages between social and ecological systems. He has worked on human dimensions of resource management in Australia, Jamaica, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, Mauritius, Seychelles, Indonesia, Mozambique, and the USA and has published >120 peer-reviewed journal articles. Josh is an ARC Future Fellow, a recipient of the 2015 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, received the 2017 Elinor Ostrom Award on collective governance of the commons, and the 2018 Mid-Career Award from the International Society for Reef Studies.

Pip-CohenDr Pip Cohen
Pip is an environmental social scientist with expertise in equitable governance of fisheries in the developing world. Her primary research contribution has been to illuminate interactions between governance scale, productivity and distribution of fisheries goods and services, particularly for food and nutrition security. Pip has undertaken her empirical research in Australia, Tonga, Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands. Since 2013 Pip has worked for WorldFish (an international research organisation part of the CGIAR focused on food secure futures). Pip received her PhD in 2013, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University – and continues to engage with the Centre as a Partner Investigator and more recently as a member of the Advisory Board.

Dr Peter Cowman
Peter is a Senior Research fellow in Ecosystem Dynamics at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Research. Previously, he has held post-doctoral positions at the Australian National University, Canberra and Yale University, USA. His research leverages large genetic databases to explore the evolutionary history of reef assemblages and to examine correlations between life history, environmental factors and genomic change across the Tree of Life. In 2017, he was awarded an ARC DECRA Fellowship for his project “Biodiversity, biogeography and molecular evolution on tropical reefs”. This research used next generation sequencing to target thousands of nuclear markers for corals and fishes. With these genomic scale datasets he research sheds light on the evolutionary history of fishes and corals, their systematics, and their ancestral biogeography.

Graeme Cumming

Professor Graeme Cumming
Graeme is a coral reef research leader in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. He joined the Centre in 2015 from the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He has a diverse range of interests that are centered on the relevance of broad-scale pattern-process dynamics for ecosystem (and social-ecological system) function and resilience. His current research focuses on scale, spatial relationships, and the applications of landscape ecology and complexity theory to questions of the sustainability of natural resource management systems, particularly protected areas. He is also working closely with sociologists and political scientists on questions of institutional structure, process, and governance in natural resource management contexts.

Dr Jenni Donelson
Jenni is a Senior Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, in collaboration with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Jenni’s research focuses on exploring the plastic capacity of reef fish to environmental change. She is particularly interested in how exposure of previous generations influences the phenotype of the current generation, and more broadly how this could impact species responses to future climate change.

Associate Professor Sophie Dove
Sophie is a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies undertaking research in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland. She is an expert in the photobiology of reef-building corals and leads a growing laboratory that is focused on how the carbonate balance of reefs will fare under future warming and acidification. Her investigations on the carbonate balance of reefs monitor the responses of mesocosms, calcifers such as corals and bioeroders such as sponges.

Dr Rebecca Green
Rebecca is a Research Associate at the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at the University of Western Australia. She completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Oceanography at the University of Southampton, and subsequently worked as a research assistant on coral reef projects in Cambodia and the Cayman Islands before completing her PhD in 2018 at the University of Western Australia. Her current research focuses on understanding the interactions between oceanography and ecology of coral reef ecosystems using field observations and numerical modelling techniques. She has been primarily been investigating the physical processes that drive environmental variability within the offshore atolls of North West Australia, and how these isolated systems respond to current and future climate change stressors.

Dr April Hall
April is a post-doctoral research fellow with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef studies at James Cook University. Her research is focussed on the conservation and management of coral reef fish communities, particularly in relation to the ecological effects of marine parks zoning on fishes. April’s current research activities are focussed around evaluating the value of Conservation Park (yellow) zones as management tools within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. She holds an Advance Queensland Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship, and works in collaboration with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. April’s PhD research focused on the importance of predatory fishes on reefs, and how fishing of predators affects trophic dynamics on the Great Barrier Reef. She has collaborated on a broad range of projects exploring fundamental aspects of the demography, reproduction, habitat associations, and behaviour of coral reef fishes, and is particularly interested in how ecological and biological data can be used to inform management approaches.

Dr. Scott Heron
Scott is a Senior Lecturer at James Cook University. His research focus is on coastal and near-shore environmental physics, involving the synthesis of physical information with the biological and/or chemical characteristics of the environment. Scott’s current work investigates impacts on coral reefs, including coral bleaching and disease, reef resilience and conservation management, within the context of climate change. This work continues from his time with the US government’s NOAA Coral Reef Watch program, with whom he remains affiliated. Scott is currently co-leading the development and applications of a tool that rapidly assesses climate vulnerability of World Heritage properties, working with UNESCO World Heritage Centre and its advisory bodies. He previously held faculty positions at Penn State and Georgetown Universities.

Professor Terry Hughes
Terry is the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and an Australian Laureate Fellow (2012-2017). His research focuses on the linkages between the ecology of reefs and their importance for societies and economies. He has worked extensively in Australia, the Coral Triangle Region, and in the Caribbean. An important aspect of his research is understanding the dynamics and resilience of coral reefs, and translating this knowledge into innovative and practical solutions for improved reef management. Terry is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. He is a Clarivate’s Highly Cited Researcher, and was recognized in 2008 by the International Coral Reef Society, with the award of the society’s Darwin Medal. In 2014, he was awarded an Einstein Professorship by the Chinese Academy of Science, and in 2016 Terry was recognised by Nature magazine as one of Nature’s 10 – ‘Ten people who mattered this year.’ In June, Prince Albert II of Monaco presented Terry with the 2018 Climate Change Award for his contribution to advancing understanding of the influence of rapid climate change on the world’s coral reefs.

Dr. Bjorn Illing
Björn completed his Ph.D. in Fisheries Biology in 2016 at the University of Hamburg, Germany, and joined the ARC Centre of Excellence of Coral Reef Studies as adjunct research fellow on two German postdoctoral research fellowships (DAAD and DFG). He is an experimental biologist who is interested in how environmental stress affects the ecophysiology of marine organisms. In his current research, Björn investigates how the fitness and performance of coral reef fish larvae may be affected by climate change.

Professor Michael J Kingsford
Mike is a Distinguished Professor in the Marine Biology at James Cook University (JCU), Australia. He has published extensively on the ecology of reef fishes, biological oceanography, and jellyfishes. A major focus of his research has been on reef fish ecology and the connectivity of reef fish populations. He had thirty eight years research experience of studying fishes in temperate and tropical regions of Australia and other parts of the world.

Dr Jacqueline Lau 
Jacqui is a Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and WorldFish. She has a background in sociology and human geography, and in 2019 completed her PhD at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies on the multiple values of coastal ecosystem services in Papua New Guinea. Her current research examines issues of justice and climate change resilience in small-scale fisheries and coastal communities in the Pacific.

Professor Ryan Lowe
Ryan is a Program Leader of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and a Professor at the University of Western Australia. He has a unique background in coastal oceanography and environmental engineering that enables him to tackle complex (and often multidisciplinary) research problems in coral reef systems. Major areas of research focus include: understanding how ocean dynamics drive physical and other environmental variability within coral reefs; how these dynamics influence a range of complex biophysical processes, and finally how these processes can be numerically predicted and accurately forecast into the future.

Professor Malcolm McCulloch
Malcolm is a Deputy Director of the ARC Centre and an Australian Laureate Fellow (2013-2018) at the University of Western Australia. Malcolm’s research interests focus on the modern part of the marine record using isotopic and trace element geochemical methods to determine how climate and anthropogenic processes have influenced both past and present marine environments with particular emphasis on coral reefs. Malcolm has received a number of prestigious awards, in 2010 he was elected as a Fellow to The Royal Society and is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (2004), the Geological Society of Australia (2007), the Geochemical Society (2008) and the American Geophysical Union (2002). In 2009 he was awarded the Jaeger Medal and in 2017 the Ringwood medal for his career achievements in the Earth Sciences. Malcolm is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher and has published over 300 scientific papers in leading international journals including 26 in Science and Nature.

Professor Tiffany Morrison
Tiffany is a leader of Research Program 1 People and Ecosystems in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. Tiffany combines insights from political science, human geography, and in-depth field research to study the design and implementation of complex environmental governance regimes. She has worked extensively in Australia, Asia, and the US. Prior to joining the ARC Centre of Excellence, Tiffany was on faculty at the University of Queensland where she co-led an ARC Super Science team of ecologists, geographers, planners, economists, and lawyers studying the complex governance of climate adaptation. The current focus of her program at James Cook University is on uncovering hidden political levers for improving the design and implementation of polycentric environmental governance regimes. She has published on this topic in Nature, PNAS, and Global Environmental Change.


Professor Peter Mumby
Peter began his career helping to design marine reserves in Belize and experienced first hand the limited scientific basis for decision-making. He then began a research pathway with a goal of providing science that can inform practical conservation and management action. His research combines field observations, experiments, remote sensing and ecological modelling to answer questions about ecosystem resilience, impacts of climate change, marine reserve functioning and design, connectivity of ecosystems, coral reef fisheries and marine spatial planning to capture ecosystem services. To achieve this, Peter’s students and post-docs work on a variety of taxa and processes including corals, algae, sponges, herbivory, predatory fishes, food web models, metapopulation models, and so on. He collaborates extensively with friends in other fields including economics, engineering, oceanography and business. Peter undertook a PhD at the University of Sheffield (UK), followed by a NERC Post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Newcastle. This was followed by a Royal Society fellowship at the University of Exeter (UK), and a move to Brisbane to take up a prestigious ARC Laureate Fellowship in 2010. Peter is a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation and winner of the Rosenstiel Award for Contributions to Marine Biology, Marsh Award for Marine Conservation, and the inaugural ISRS Mid-Career Award for contributions to reef science. He is happiest on a coral reef with a camera in his hands.

Professor John Pandolfi
John is a Program Leader in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and a Professor in the School of Biological Sciences, and Centre for Marine Science, The University of Queensland. He has broad research interests in marine palaeoecology, with emphasis on the effects of anthropogenic impacts and climate change on the recent past history of modern coral reefs. His research on the ecology of the Great Barrier Reef and reefs globally provides insight into how past marine ecosystems function in the absence of humans, providing reef managers with important historical context. He has published over 180 scientific articles in leading international journals, including Science and Nature. John was recently elected Fellow of both the Paleontological Society and the International Coral Reef Society.

Professor Gretta Pecl
Gretta Pecl is a Professor of marine ecology with broad research interests and a passion for science engagement and communication with the public. Much of her current research centres around understanding climate change impacts in marine systems, and how our marine industries and communities may best adapt to these changes. She developed and leads the very successful National citizen science project Redmap Australia, the Range Extension Database and mapping project, which invites fishers and divers around our coastline to help monitor changes in our seas. Gretta is also currently working with international colleagues on a Global Network of Marine Hotspots to facilitate learning and communication among the world’s most rapidly warming ocean regions, and started the Species on the Move International conference series. Professor Pecl is the Director of the Centre for Marine Socioecology at the University of Tasmania, a Fulbright Fellow, an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, and a Lead Author for the current IPCC report

Dr Claire Ross
Claire is a Research Scientist in the Marine Science Program at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions in Western Australia. She completed her PhD in 2018 at the University of Western Australia under the supervision of Professor Malcolm McCulloch, Dr Thomas DeCarlo and Dr Verena Schoepf. Claire’s research combines isotopic and trace element geochemical methods to investigate the response of coral growth mechanisms to changing environmental conditions, and the use of coral skeletons as paleo-thermometers to reconstruct past temperature. She is currently investigating the broad-scale responses of coral reefs to environmental change, with a particular focus on the long-term monitoring of WA’s coral communities.

Patrick Smallhorn-West
Patrick is a Centre of Excellence PhD student at James Cook University and has spent the past three years collaborating with the Tongan government to design and implement a national coral reef monitoring program. In addition, his project also aims to determine the impact of Tonga’s community-based marine protected area network, which has recently expanded to include over 40 new protected areas. Determining the efficacy of their national protected area program involves both conducting impact assessments of previously implemented reserves, as well as determining the potential impact of new ones. The Glenn Almany memorial award was given for his work in predicting the potential impact of new community-based marine reserves and asking: how much do we sacrifice by letting communities design their own no-take zones?

Dr Sue-Ann Watson
Sue-Ann is the Senior Curator (Marine Invertebrates) at the Museum of Tropical Queensland, Queensland Museum, and a Senior Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University. Her research focuses on the ecological effects of global change, including ocean acidification and warming, and evolutionary responses to environmental gradients in marine organisms. Her broad research interests include ecology, behaviour, physiology, biogeography, and the potential for adaptation to environmental change, particularly in marine invertebrates. Sue-Ann received the 2014 Queensland Young Tall Poppy Scientist of the Year award, and was a finalist for the 2015 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher.

Jessica Hoey
Jessica Hoey is the Director of Synthesis and Reporting at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and led the team which produced the 2019 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report. She completed her marine biology degree with honours at James Cook University in 2002, and a Juris Doctor (Law degree) in 2018. She has worked at the GBRMPA for 17 years leading teams across a broad range of areas including: Indigenous Partnerships, Tourism and Stewardship and Environmental Impact Assessment. In 2015 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to explore aquatic integrated pest management strategies and their application to crown-of thorns starfish outbreaks on the Great Barrier Reef. Her current focus is on delivering evidence-based reporting products and information to prioritise and inform management actions and evaluate their effectiveness. This includes leading GBRMPA’s involvement in the review of the Reef 2050 Long-term Sustainability Plan and the ongoing monitoring of inshore habitats and water quality through GBRMPA’s Marine Monitoring Program.


What every Australian should know about climate change

Four leaders in their fields will each present on different aspects of climate change, the biggest challenge facing our world today, and answer questions from the public. The forum will be hosted by award-winning journalist Tanya Ha.
Topics covered will include the climate – why and how it is changing, trajectories of marine ecosystems – especially coral reefs, trajectories of terrestrial systems, intergenerational justice and transitioning to net zero global emissions.

Time: 6PM – 7PM (refreshments from 5.30pm)
Date: Wednesday 23rd October
Venue: Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney

Dr Joëlle Gergis is an award-winning climate scientist and writer from the Australian National University. She is an internationally recognised expert on Australian climate variability and change, and author of Sunburnt Country: The history and future of climate change in Australia.  She is currently serving as a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report due for release in 2021. She is also a councillor of the Climate Council, Australia’s leading independent body providing expert advice to the Australian public on climate change and policy.

Professor Terry Hughes is the Director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. A recurrent theme in his studies is the application of new scientific knowledge towards improving management of marine environments. In 2018, Prince Albert II of Monaco presented Professor Hughes with the Climate Change Award, recognising his contribution to advancing understanding of the influence of rapid climate change on the world’s coral reefs.

Professor Lesley Hughes is a Distinguished Professor of Biology and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Integrity and Development) at Macquarie University. She has been researching the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems for more than 20 years. She is a former Lead Author in the IPCC’s 4th and 5th Assessment Report, a former federal Climate Commissioner and now a Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia. She is also a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and a Director of WW-Australia.

Simon Holmes à Court is one of Australia’s leading energy commentators and analysts with a mission to obtain greater energy subsidies and a price on carbon. He is on the Board of Directors of the Climate Energy Council and a senior adviser to the Climate and Energy College at the Energy Transition Hub at Melbourne University. He has been a pioneering force in the Australian community power movement, and founder of Embark Australia, a non-profit consultancy helping communities share in the benefits of local renewable energy.

Tanya Ha (MC) is an award-winning Australian environmental journalist, best-selling author and science communicator. She is also a media commentator on science and environmental issues, a behaviour change expert, and was a delegate to the Australia 2020 Summit. She is currently Director of Engagement at Science in Public, an Associate of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, Director of Diversity Council Australia, and a member of the leadership team of Science and Technology Australia. She was also a reporter for ABC Catalyst and a tour ambassador for National Science Week. She has served on the boards of Sustainability Victoria and Keep Australia Beautiful (National Association). Her books include ‘Greeniology 2020’ and ‘Green Stuff for Kids’.


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