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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Sarah Kwong

Sarah Kwong

PhD Candidate

James Cook University

In 2013, driven by her enthusiasm towards the ocean, Sarah left her job as a pharmacist in Hong Kong to pursue her passions by working as a Scuba Diving Instructor. She has since worked at the Great Barrier Reef and in the Maldives. After witnessing the 2016 mass bleaching event right before her own eyes, she was inspired to become a Marine Biologist so that she could dedicate herself to working for coral reef protection.

Eventually, she moved to Australia to pursue her MSc in Marine Biology at James Cook University (JCU) in 2019. She has conducted her Master thesis project entitled “quantifying shedding and degradation rates of environmental DNA (eDNA) from Pacific crown-of-thorns seastar (Acanthaster cf. solaris)” at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). During this period of time, Sarah has developed a keen interest in the field of scientific research and thus decided to continue her academic pursuit through a PhD.

Sarah is incredibly grateful to have been awarded the AIMS@JCU PhD scholarship in 2021. Her research focuses on the development and application of novel genetic techniques to improve the management of crown-of-thorns seastar (CoTS) outbreaks on coral reefs. Specifically, she is aiming to develop a molecular age marker for CoTS by making use of DNA methylation patterns or telomere lengths. Her supervisory panel includes Dr. Sven Uthicke (AIMS), Prof. Morgan Pratchett (JCU), and Dr. Cecilia Villacorta-Rath (TropWATER).


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