Marine Science & Aquaculture Staff

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

Professor Sheaves leads the Marine Biology and Aquaculture group. He is a coastal ecosystem ecologist, with a broad diversity of research interests. These include developing understanding of the nursery ground value of coastal systems for fisheries species, reconciliation of tropical coastal ecosystem health and resilience with their sustainable utilisation to support livelihoods and food security, the development of small-scale sportfisheries as livelihood solutions, and the integration of. He works on research across the world but particularly focuses on Pacific Islands and tropical Australia.

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Academic Staff

Distinguished Professor David Bellwood

Distinguished Professor

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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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 Naomi Gardiner

Marine ecology, fisheries, coral reefs

My research explores the drivers of coral reef and coastal ecosystem function in order to improve livelihoods and food security in the Asia-Pacific region. I am particularly focused on coastal and island based fishery dynamics in Indonesia and the Coral Triangle (region. I also run capacity building programs for managers and researchers in the CT.

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Professor 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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Professor 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 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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Professor 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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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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Distinguished Professor Mike Kingsford

Distinguished Professor

Mike has published extensively on the ecology of reef fishes, jellyfishes, biological oceanography and climate change.  His projects have encompassed a range of latitudes and he has edited two books on tropical and temperate ecology.  He is a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Innovative Coral Reef Studies. A major focus of his research has been on connectivity of reef fish populations, environmental records in corals and fishes and deadly irukandji jellyfishes.  In addition to research and leadership, he teaches undergraduate students and supervises many postgraduate students.

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Professor Mark McCormick

A professor in Marine Ecology at JCU Townsville, Mark is committed to researching tropical marine biology and educating the next generation of scientists.

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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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Professor 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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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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Associate Professor 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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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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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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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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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 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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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.


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 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 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 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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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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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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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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