The overarching aim of our research is to develop information and techniques that can assist diagnosing and treating disease and conducting population health assessments in the wild. Such research can help save individual animals, but perhaps more importantly, could be used as early warning signs of deteriorating environmental health in an area where sea turtles live for an extended time.

Turtle Health Research team members overlooking a tank of baby turtles.

The majority of our research is done by Higher Degree Research Students. The study animals are predominantly green sea turtles, with a few freshwater turtle health projects and even a water dragon project because of Ellen’s interest in viruses and reptiles. If you are interested in conducting turtle health research, you would need to have a degree in a relevant discipline (preferably medical or veterinary science) and a previous research record. You can find out more at the JCU Graduate Research School for entry requirements, and can contact Ellen directly ( with your CV and research idea.