Marine Science & Aquaculture Staff

Across our research and teaching, we have a wide range of expertise. Our researchers, your lecturers, are listed here with various networking and contact options available.

Head of Academic Group

Professor Marcus Sheaves

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Academic Staff

Dr Alex Angell

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Angell is part of the Animal Nutrition and Health project within the Centre for Macroalgal Resources and Biotechnology. His research focuses on the development of algal feed and algal feed additives for aquaculture production systems. Dr Angell is working with domestic and international industry partners to develop a number of algal feed products that aim to improve the quality, production and health of aquaculture animals.

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Prof. David Bellwood

David’s work on coral reef evolution and ecology includes palaeontology, molecular biology, ecosystem function, biogeography and social-ecological systems. His goal is to understand the functional ecology of coral reefs and increase their capacity to withstand human impacts.

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Dr David Bourne

My training is in molecular microbial ecology with research focused on microbial diversity, structure and function in reef ecosystems. Activities include determining the role of microbes in maintaining coral fitness, elucidating mechanisms of disease onset and what implications this has on reef ecosystems subjected to environmental pressures.

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Dr Andrew Chin

Research Fellow FRDC Shark Report Card

Dr Chin is a research fellow working on assessments of Australia shark and rays species and their management. Andrew has been working in the Great Barrier Reef since the 1990s in research and reef monitoring, state of the environment auditing and reporting, environmental impact monitoring and management, and in capacity building projects for reef monitoring and assessment. He also has research interests in integrating traditional knowledge and management systems into mainstream fisheries management, in sustainability of small scale fisheries in the Pacific, and in capacity building and development. Andrew is currently working on a projects focused on the sustainable management of shark fisheries in Papua New Guinea, and on the spatial ecology of porcupine rays in the Great Barrier Reef.

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Dr Andrew Cole

Research Fellow

Dr Cole leads the Products from Oedogonium project within the Centre for Macroalgal Resources and Biotechnology. This program works on aquatic waste streams from diverse industries, including aquaculture, agriculture and municipal waste. It aims to optimise macroalgal biomass production and bioremediation for each waste stream at scales that are relevant to industry needs. The overarching goal is to provide a cost effective option for nutrient bioremediation and a platform for sustainable and commercially viable macroalgal biomass production.

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Professor Sean Connolly

Coral Reef Ecology, Macroecology, and Ecological Modelling

I use a mix of mathematical modelling and empirical work to address fundamental questions about the origin and maintenance of biodiversity, and to understand the ecological impacts of human-induced environmental change, such as overfishing and climate change. Mostly, but not exclusively, I use coral reefs as a study system.

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Professor Rocky de Nys

Professor of Aquaculture

As the leader of the Centre for Macroalgal Resources and Biotechnology, Rocky’s role focuses on the planning, organisational and management requirements for the successful delivery of multi-disciplinary research and its application. Rocky manages industry partnerships that take the outcomes of our work to deliver innovative products and processes ranging from food products to fertilisers, and biological carbon capture and storage using biochar.

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Dr Andrew Foote

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Foote is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, working principally in the phenotype acquisition team on the ARC Research hub for Advanced Prawn Breeding. He has experience in running a range of replicated prawn trials including reproductive performance, nutrition, ploidy manipulation and viral challenges. He has experience with techniques for high-throughput, automated processing of prawn tissues using robotics for genotyping and viral assays as well as advanced imaging and gene expression techniques.

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Dr Christopher Glasson

Research Fellow

Dr Glasson leads the Biorefinery project in the Centre for Macroalgal Resources and Biotechnology. His research is focused on algal sulfated polysaccharides (ASPs) known for their interesting biological activities, including antiviral, antioxidant, anticoagulant, antihyperlipidemic, anticancer, and immunomodulatory behaviours. Dr Glasson’s research involves relating the structural attributes of ASPs to their biological activities in order to develop structure-activity relationships that guide the manufacture and application of ASP products. The targeted applications for ASP products include multifunctional food additives, nutraceuticals, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

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Mark Hamann

My research group focuses on two main themes (1) Biology and conservation of threatened marine and freshwater species - in particular marine and freshwater turtles, animal tracking, human dimensions and (2) Understanding impacts of plastic pollution and other human-based threats on marine systems.

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Dr Mia Hoogenboom

Coral Reef Ecologist

My research resolves how processes acting at the physiological scale influence the growth, survival and reproduction of corals and other marine organisms. I use a combination of laboratory experiments, field work and mathematical models to understand how changing environmental conditions impact coral reef ecosystems.

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Dr Roger Huerlimann

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Huerlimann's interests lie in the development and application of genomic and bioinformatics tools to answer research questions.

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Dr Kate Hutson

Senior Lecturer

Dr Hutson's research examines aquatic animal parasitology issues that threaten wild, farmed and ornamental fishes. Her research integrates parasite species discovery and biology (taxonomy, life cycles, ecology and behaviour) with practical, applied research (risk-assessment, disease diagnosis, management and treatment) designed to deliver tangible outcomes for fisheries, aquaculture industry and biosecurity management. This combination of pure and applied research has led to the development of unique and strong partnerships between industry, government agencies and other tertiary institutions.

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Prof. Dean Jerry

Professor - Promotional Chair

Prof. Jerry has worked with aquaculture species for 15 years and the genetics of aquatic organisms for 20. Since joining James Cook University in 2003, he has built an internationally recognised research group with a major focus on the development of genetic tools and knowledge to inform selective breeding programs for aquaculture species.

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Dr Clive Jones

Principal Research Fellow

Dr Clive Jones is an internationally recognised expert in the aquaculture of rock lobster and freshwater crayfish, with 35 years’ experience as a research scientist. He is currently a Principal Research Fellow at JCU, where he leads research projects that are developing aquaculture production technology for commercial application. His research and expertise covers the gamut of disciplines involved in aquaculture, including reproduction, hatchery, growout, nutrition, health and disease management. His research is applied and often in direct collaboration with industry to develop new methods and address knowledge gaps. Current projects are focused on tropical rock lobster farming in Indonesia and redclaw aquaculture in Australia.

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Dr David Jones

Research Fellow

Dr Jones' researches applying genetic and genomic tools to address research questions with a strong applied aquaculture industry focus. He has more than 9 years’ experience working in quantitative and population genetics of marine wildlife and commercially important species (including pearl oysters, shrimp, damselfish, lobster and catfish). During this time he has been heavily involved in three multi-million dollar research projects aiming to improve production traits in pearl oysters and the white-legged shrimp.

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Distinguished Professor Geoffrey Jones

Marine Biologist

My fields of interest include the ecology and behaviour of reef fishes; human impacts on coral reef populations, communities and ecosystems; larval dispersal and marine population connectivity; marine conservation biology;  the importance of marine reserves for conserving marine biodiversity and sustaining fisheries.

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Dr James Kerry

Senior research officer for Prof. Terry Hughes. Since late 2015, James' work has revolved almost entirely around the 2015/16 mass coral bleaching event, including conducting aerial surveys along the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef. My PhD, completed April 2016, looked at the sheltering behaviour of large reef fishes.


Dr Agnes Le Port

Research Fellow

Dr Le Port’s research focuses on the use of cutting-edge and traditional molecular approaches for the conservation and protection of Australia’s unique aquatic fauna. She currently works with environmental DNA (eDNA) to address a broad range of biosecurity and ecological conservation applications. In particular, Agnes is developing innovative eDNA methods for detecting pest species (e.g. tilapia) and species of conservation concern (sawfish) across Australia.

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Dr Marie Magnusson

Research Fellow

Dr Magnusson leads the Human health and nutrition project and is Program Leader at the Centre for Macroalgal Resources and Biotechnology. She has over 10 years of experience in working with various aspects of micro- and macroalgal biology, biochemistry, and cultivation. In her current role, Marie’s research is focused on the post-harvest processing and analysis of the biochemical composition of biomass from macroalgae grown in the bioremediation of aquaculture and municipal waste waters, in order to tailor production and processing parameters for specific end-product use as human food, nutraceuticals and animal feed.

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Dr Waldo G. Nuez-Ortin

Lecturer in Aquaculture

Dr Nuez-Ortin owns over 12 years of experience conducting animal nutrition research with emphasis on aquaculture species. His current wok focuses on the use of shotgun molecular approaches to understand diet- and environmentally-induced physiological changes and to ultimately adopt more efficient feed formulation strategies.

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Dr Igor Pirozzi

Senior Research Fellow

Dr Pirozzi’s research focus include understanding the nutritional requirements of aquaculture species and how this affects the physiology and metabolism of fish. A major research outcome of his research is in the development of bioenergetically optimum, sustainable fish diets.

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Dr Tine Praeger

Research Fellow

Dr Praeger's research focuses on the controlled reproduction of macroalgae at scale in order to provide a reliable source of seedlings. A central theme of her work is the development of bioremediation technologies for the aquaculture industry with a research focus on innovative, sustainable and tailored cultivation technologies of high-value seaweeds, in particular filamentous green seaweeds. Dr Praeger is the recipient of a Queensland Accelerate Fellowship with the Queensland Government and industry partners MBD Energy and Pacific Reef Fisheries to develop novel techniques for the settlement and grow-out of a high-value seaweed species.

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Dr Cassandra Rigby

I have worked for over 25 years as a marine scientist in a range of fields encompassing aquaculture, benthic ecology, taxonomy, and fisheries management. Recently, I completed a PhD on life history of deepwater sharks and have since worked at JCU on shark conservation projects in the Pacific and Australia.

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Professor Marcus Sheaves

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Dr Catarina Silva

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Catarina’s research involves understanding processes related to marine population dynamics (such as dispersal and gene flow), investigating the complex mechanisms driving the distribution of organisms (using for example seascape genetic approaches) and understanding evolutionary aspects of adaptation (such as genetics of complex traits and adaptive responses of organisms to environmental change). Catarina is currently using genomic tools to investigate neutral and adaptive processes influencing the genetic structure and divergence patterns of a range of commercially important lobster species and is also applying genomic tools to tackle challenging issues and opportunities in fisheries and aquaculture. Catarina also aims at translating research results to inform conservation and management decisions and at communicating science-related topics to non-scientists.

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Prof. Colin Simpfendorfer

Professor - Personal Chair

Prof. Simpfendorfer has more than 25 years of experience in researching sharks, and has published extensively in the scientific literature on shark biology, ecology, fisheries and conservation.

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Associate Professor Jan Strugnell

Associate Professor Aquaculture and Marine Science

Assoc. Prof. Strugnell applies next generation sequencing tools to help solve bottlenecks in fisheries and aquaculture industries.  Supported by the ARC, her laboratory group is investigating population differentiation, recruitment and adaptation in a range of commercially important lobster species.  They also work on marine species that are shifting range in response to climate change and are investigating the genetic basis for resilience and susceptibility to temperature stress in abalone.  Jan’s group also investigates population and species level molecular evolution in a range of marine species including yellow tailed king fish, oysters, octopods and sharks.

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Dr Lynne van Herwerden

Senior Lecturer

Dr van Herwerden’s  current research focuses on connectivity and population structure, emphasising conservation and fisheries management applications. She also researches acclimation and adaptation of tropical fishes to environmental stressors. Another of her research interests is on reef fish evolutionary history and response to environmental change, including identification, characterisation and expression of candidate genes. Finally, she contributes substantially to the field of transgenerational acclimation to stress and the utility of epigenetic mechanisms, applied to coral reef fishes.

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Dr Matthew J Vucko

Research Fellow

Dr Vucko leads the Animal Nutrition and Health project within the Centre for Macroalgal Resources and Biotechnology. His research focuses on the development of algal feed and algal feed additives for animal production systems and aims to (i) demonstrate the potential of using algae as an alternative protein source for non-ruminant herbivores; (ii) develop sustainable algal feed supplements for ruminant grazers; and (iii) reduce methane emissions in ruminants using the natural secondary metabolites found in algae.

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Associate Professor Chaoshu Zeng

Associate Professor

Assoc. Prof. Zeng's research interests include development of culture techniques for commercially important crustaceans and marine ornamentals; ecophysiology and behaviour of crustacean larvae and juveniles; toxicology of effluent water to aquatic animals; crustacean nutrition and formulated feed development; as well as copepod biology and culture. He currently leads two research teams focusing on tropical crustacean aquaculture and captive breeding of marine ornamentals respectively at JCU.

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A/Prof Kyall Zenger

Associate Professor

Assoc. Prof. Zenger has more than 18 years’ experience conducting research and teaching within the disciplines of applied animal production and quantitative / evolutionary genetics on both aquatic and terrestrial animals.

A/Prof Zenger teaching responsibilities encompass his core research strengths of animal genetics and applied animal production at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. A/Prof Zenger currently supervises 14 PhD students, and maintains a diverse group of research associates through his ongoing collaborations. He is the current Aquaculture course program coordinator and Head of Aquaculture academic group within the College of Science and Engineering at James Cook University.

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Research Staff

Dr Kristen Anderson

Kristen is a postdoctoral research fellow looking at the response of calcifying corals to climate change.  Her work has been investigating the spatial and temporal variation of branching coral species along the Great Barrier Reef and looking at the relationship  of temperature versus ocean acidification on coral physiology

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Mr Lucas Langlois

Technical Officer

Lucas is broadly interested in coastal marine ecology, with a particular emphasis on seagrass and coral eco-physiology and ecology.  He is now mostly working on the Reef Rescue Marine Monitoring Program funded by GBRMPA.

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Dr Nicolas Neveux

Senior Research Worker

Dr Neveux is part of the Macroalgal Biofuels and Bioproducts research group. His work focuses on the production of marine and freshwater macroalgae in integrated land-based systems, particularly in the context of bioremediation of aquaculture effluents and municipal wastewater. He is also involved in the research and development of valuable bioproducts derived from macroalgae, including nutraceuticals, human food, animal feed, biofuels and fertilisers.

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Dr Megan Welch

Megan recently completed her PhD focusing on the effects of ocean acidification on coral reef fish behaviour. Megan specialises in olfactory responses in juvenile and adult fishes, and is continuing to investigate the heritability of behavioural tolerance to rising CO2 levels.


Adjunct Staff

Mr Vikash Munbodhe

Marine Biologist

Studied MSc. in Fisheries Biology and Management at James Cook University. Work as Scientific Officer at Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries in Mauritius.  Currently lead and coordinate meetings and working sessions for research works at the national and regional levels regarding the monitoring and conservation of coral reef

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Bette Willis

Marine (Coral) Biologist

My research addresses questions relating to the health of reef corals in an era of climate change and increasing anthropogenic impacts.  My research focuses on understanding inter-kingdom symbiotic partnerships that underpin coral health, factors driving outbreaks of coral disease, and the potential for corals to adapt to a changing environment.

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Research Students

Quyen Banh

Aquaculture Geneticist

Quyen Banh obtained her MSc. in Aquaculture at Ghent University (Belgium). Before moving to Australia for her PhD, she was working as an lecturer assistance for the course Applied Genetics for Aquaculture at Nha Trang University (Vietnam). Her PhD project at JCU with Prof Dean Jerry is 'Sex differentiation and sex control for barramundi'.

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Annie Bauer

My thesis focuses on marine debris and plastic pollution originating from local communities within North Queensland.

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Patrick Buerger

Marine microbiologist working on viruses in coral diseases, based at the Australian Institute of Marine Science and James Cook University.

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Tory Chase

I am a PhD candidate studying the effects of coral-fish symbioses on coral populations.

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Madalyn Cooper

Madalyn is a PhD student with the Fishing and Fisheries Research Group. She completed her Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience (Hons I with University Medal) at The University of Sydney. Madalyn's thesis will aim to resolve the current global occurrence and distribution of sawfishes using environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques.


Kevin Crook

PhD candidate examining community structure, foodweb dynamics, and movement patterns of batoids in marine ecosystems. Aims of this research are to determine if batoids are vectors for energy transfer between intertidal and subtidal zones and if roles of batoids are context dependent.


Alexia Dubuc

After completing a master in Marine Ecology in France, I came to Townsville to do my PhD. My focus is on water quality in wetlands, especially dissolved oxygen, and how it affects fish. This project aims to improve water quality guidelines to help preserving and protecting fauna inhabiting these crucial habitats.

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Maria del Mar Palacios

Marine Ecologist

I am a marine ecologist finishing my PhD @ James Cook University, AU. My research explores the importance of behavioral interactions in trophic cascades of coral reef fish. I study predation risk, mesopredator behaviour and competition.

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Jacob Eurich

Jacob is studying territorial damselfish ecological versatility and niche partitioning in Papua New Guinea. He aims to compare PNG to the GBR to examine the affects of coral bleaching on territorial damselfish and surgeonfish. Jacob also is the Resident Researcher with Mahonia Na Dari Research and Conservation Centre in PNG.

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Jakob Fries

Jakob's research focuses on coastal wetland and estuarine ecology in the tropics, tropical ecosystem repair, tropical fisheries, land-based effects on coastal ecosystems and sustainable management of agricultural land use. Jakob has studied at James Cook University and is currently a researcher at the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

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Bettina Glasl

My research interests are focusing on microbial ecology, symbiosis and molecular biology. During my PhD I will investigate microbial communities associated with coral reefs (seawater, sediment, corals, sponges and macroalgae) under natural conditions and upon disturbances. My project aims to identify microbial indicators to predict reef health.


Rodrigo Gurdek

I am PhD Candidate in Natural and Physical Sciences at JCU and AIMS. I am actually studying the connectivity, local retention, self-replenishment and phylogeography of the coral reef fish species Lutjanus carponotatus along the Australian coast. Genomics and hydrodynamic/ biogeochemical modelling are used to determine those patterns.


Margaux Hein

Margaux' s research investigates if coral restoration projects can re-establish a functioning reef ecosystem delivering the ecological and socio-economic goods and services of a healthy coral reef. She also works with GBRMPA to discuss the the relevance of active intervention for managing the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

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César Herrera

In the long term, my research aims (1) to determine variables that govern the distribution of organisms on coastal ecosystems, and (2) to explore consequences of losing biodiversity for ecosystem functioning. In the medium term, I am evaluating the effects of biodiversity on benthic ecosystem functioning in tropical estuaries (PhD).


Johanna Leonhardt,

I'm currently studying the interspecific relationship between coral hosts and farming damselfish - what the implications of this relationship are in terms of growth rates of coral, reproduction rates of coral and the prevalence and susceptibility of disease found on coral that harbour farming damselfish.


Jake Lowe

Specializing in coral reef fisheries, in particular the biological and ecological effects of no-take marine reserves (NTMR’s) on reef fish populations.


Rachel Miller

I am a PhD Student who is investigating the role of stakeholders in the policy concerning and management of marine migratory taxa in Australia. I am particularly interested in the drivers behind stakeholder involvement and understanding the barriers and solutions to involving various stakeholders in threatened species management.


Kien Nguyen

My research is mainly aimed at the development of captive breeding techniques for marine ornamental fish.


Damian Rigg

I am studying the Redclaw freshwater crayfish, Cherax quadricarinatus within the context of Aquaculture. My study revolves around the intensification of raising the juvenile seedstock, with a view to enhanced growth and survival through growout to harvest, and therefore better returns for the industry.

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Kimberly Riskas

My PhD investigates IUU fishing as a threat to sea turtles in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. Relevant experience includes marine conservation and community outreach in Cape Verde, Costa Rica, USA and Western Australia. Research interests include fisheries bycatch, endangered species management, illegal wildlife trade and science journalism.

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Jodie Schlaefer

I'm originally from Canberra and I moved to Townsville to study marine biology at JCU. I am currently doing a PhD on the population dynamics of Cubozoan jellyfish. I collect biological data on species and use these data in combination with oceanographic modelling to generate biophysical models of population connectivity.

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Samantha Sherman

Samm is a Canadian PhD student studying batoids on coral reefs in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific as part of the Global FinPrint project (www.globalfinprint.org). She is also interested in the influence of habitat and season on batoid abundance and distribution.

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Alejandro Trujillo-Gonzalez

I am interested in the parasite fauna of imported ornamental fish, and in developing novel detection techniques for quarantine inspection at border control. I am also reviewing and improving current Australian biosecurity protocols to prevent and manage alien parasite introductions in the ornamental fish trade.

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Laura Velasquez Jimenez

Laura is a current student of Marine Biology and Ecology masters.