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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Maja Adamska

Maja Adamska

Associate Professor and Program 3 leader

Australian National University

Maja Adamska studied biology, with special interest in embryology and evolutionary biology, at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. To obtain training in modern developmental biology, she moved to Germany to work with Eva Bober and Thomas Braun on function of homeobox genes in inner ear development, using a variety of vertebrate models from medaka fish to mice in her PhD project. During postdoctoral work at the University of Michigan in Miriam Meisler’s laboratory she followed complex crosses of mouse mutants to reveal genetic interactions involved in limb patterning. At this time, she became convinced that origin of complex developmental toolkits and processes is as exciting as their current function, so in the next step she joined Bernie Degnan’s group at the University of Queensland to analyze developmental signaling pathways in the first sequenced sponge, Amphimedon queenslandica. This work revealed surprising similarities in patterning of sponge and higher animal embryos.

Maja if the 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 Group Leader and Associate Professor in the Research School of Biology, Australian National University. Her group uses calcareous sponges to gain insight into the evolutionary origin of a variety of key developmental processes, including segregation of germ layers and axial patterning of embryos and adults. Maja is also interested in major transitions in animal evolution, such as emergence of multicellularity and morphological complexity, and their relationship to genomic complexity.

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