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 Lawless

Sarah Lawless

PhD graduate

MSc, International and Community Development, Deakin University (2016); Bsc Social Science (Environment), RMIT University (2013)

James Cook University

Sarah holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Environment) and a Master of International and Community Development. She has spent several years working in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea as a researcher and consultant for various research and non-governmental organisations including WorldFish, Wildlife Conservation Society and the World Wide Fund for Nature. Her past research has been motivated around understanding the intersection between gender, natural resource management and livelihood development. She offers a grounded perspective about how gender is, and should be, understood and incorporated into development practice. Sarah’s PhD research investigates the relationship between institutional policy and practice, and pursuits to address gender and social inequity through community-based development interventions, specifically in small-scale fisheries in the Pacific. Sarah is under the supervision of Prof. Tiffany Morrison, Dr. Philippa Cohen, Dr. Andrew Song and Dr. Danika Kleiber.

Peer-reviewed publications:

Lawless, S., Cohen, P. J., Mangubhai, S., Kleiber, D., & Morrison, T. H. (2021). Gender equality is diluted in commitments made to small-scale fisheries. World Development, 140(105348). doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2020.105348. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X20304769

Lau, J. D., Kleiber, D., Lawless, S., & Cohen, P. J. (2021). Gender equality in climate policy and practice hindered by assumptions. Nature Climate Change, 11(3), 186-192.

Mangubhai, S., & Lawless, S. (2021). Exploring gender inclusion in small-scale fisheries management and development in Melanesia. Marine Policy, 123, 104287.

Lawless, S., Song, A., Cohen, P., & Morrison, T. (2020). Rights, equity and justice: A diagnostic for social meta-norm diffusion in environmental governance. Earth System Governance.

Lawless, S., Cohen, P., McDougall, C., Orirana, G., Siota, F., & Doyle, K. (2019). Gender norms and relations: implications for agency in coastal livelihoods. Maritime Studies, 18, 347–358.

Barclay, K., McClean, N., Foale, S., Sulu, R., & Lawless, S. (2018). Lagoon livelihoods: gender and shell money in Langalanga, Solomon Islands. Maritime Studies.

Cohen, P; Lawless, S; Dyer, M; Morgan, M; Saeni, E; Teioli, H; Kantor, P. (2016) Understanding adaptive capacity and capacity to innovate in social-ecological systems; applying a gender lens, Ambio, 45:3, pp. 309-321.

Iniesta-Arandia, I; Ravera, F; Buechler, S; Díaz-Reviriego, I; Fernández-Giménez, M; Reed, M; Thompson-Hall, M; Wilmer, H; Aregu, L; Cohen, P; Djoudi, H; Lawless, S; Martín-López, B; Smucker, T; Villamor, G; Wangui, E. (2016) A synthesis of convergent reflections, tensions and silences in linking gender and global environmental change research, Ambio, 45:3, pp. 383-393.

Non-peer reviewed:

Lawless, S., Orirana, G., Siota, F., McDougall, C., Doyle, K., & Cohen, P. (2020). Beyond gender-blind livelihoods: Considerations for coastal livelihood initiatives. 31, pp.15-18.

Govan, H., Eriksson, H., Batalofo, M., Duarte, A., Sukulu, M., Lawless, S., Tilley, A., & Van Der Ploeg, J. (2019). A new idea for coastal fisheries: asking the right questions to enhance coastal livelihoods: Pacific Community. https://digitalarchive.worldfishcenter.org/handle/20.500.12348/3895

Kleiber, D., Cohen, P., Teioli, H., Siota, F., Delisle, A., Lawless, S., & et al. (2019). Gender-inclusive facilitation for community-based marine resource management. An addendum to “Community-based marine resource management in Solomon Islands: A facilitators guide” and other guides for CBRM. Penang, Malaysia: CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems. Program Brief: FISH-2019-08.

Lawless, S., (2019). Translating gender equality from paper into practice: A new research agenda for coastal fisheries, SPC Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin, 45-47

Barclay, K., Lawless, S., McClean, N., Foale, S., Sulu, R., (2019). Gender and coastal livelihoods: The case of shell money production and trade in Langalanga, Solomon Islands, SPC Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin, 20-23

Lawless, S., Doyle, K., Cohen, P., Eriksson, H., Schwarz, A., Teioli, H., Vavekaramui, A., Wickham, E., Masu, R., Panda, R., McDougall, C. (2017). Considering gender: Practical guidance for rural development initiatives in Solomon Islands (Vol. Program Brief: 2017-22). Penang, Malaysia: WorldFish.

Lawless, S., & Frijlink, S., (2015). Socioeconomic assessment of villages in the Tigak and Tsoi Islands, Northern New Ireland Province Papua New Guinea, Wildlife Conservation Society, Papua New Guinea program, https://programs.wcs.org/png/About-Us/Publications.aspx.

Bennett, G., Cohen, P., Schwarz, A.M., Albert, J., Lawless, S., Paul, C., Hilly, Z. (2014). Solomon Islands: Western Province Situation Analysis, CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems. WorldFish Penang: AAS-2014-15, http://www.worldfishcenter.org/content/solomon-islands-western-province-situation-analysis.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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