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 Sutcliffe

Sarah Sutcliffe

PhD candidate

James Cook University

Sarah was born in Melbourne, then lived on a boat travelling around Australia for a while, before moving to Townsville. She has spent her life around the ocean, taking every opportunity to get in the water and explore. Her love of science and marine life lead her to studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Marine Biology-Advanced at JCU. During her degree, she discovered a passion for the people who depend on marine systems, as well as the marine life itself. Her honours thesis examined media representations of the contribution of fish to food security in Solomon Islands. She is currently doing her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Josh Cinner, Dr. Michele Barnes, Dr. Pip Cohen and Dr. Jacqueline Lau, studying the impacts of COVID-19 on small-scale fishing communities in Papua New Guinea and Kenya, with a focus on how people have been able to adapt to preserve their livelihoods, food systems and wellbeing. Since commencing her PhD, she has also worked with WorldFish to promote food systems thinking in fisheries research, and develop ethical guidelines for remote research during the pandemic. She also works as a research assistant to Dr. Michele Barnes, using social network theory to study climate adaptation in coastal communities.


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Coral Reef Studies