Media Release

Newsroom Releases 2012 July JCU two join elite of researchers

30/07/2012
JCU two join elite of researchers
Two JCU professors were today awarded prestigious Australian Laureate Fellowships worth almost $5 million in total funding over the next five years.

Two James Cook University professors were today awarded prestigious Australian Laureate Fellowships worth almost $5 million in total funding over the next five years.

Professors Alexandra Aikhenvald and Terry Hughes were among the 17 fellowships awarded by the Australian Government and announced today by the Minister for Science and research Senator Chris Evans.

They join JCU’s Professor William Laurance, who was awarded a Laureate Fellowship in 2010, and Professor Michael Bird who is a Federation Fellow – the predecessor of the Australian Laureate.

Seven universities across Australia were recipients of the awards today.

JCU’s acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Cocklin said the awards confirmed the University’s leading role in research across a variety of disciplines.

“Professor Hughes is one of the world’s leading reef scientists while Professor Aikhenvald is acknowledged internationally as a distinguished ethno-linguist,” Professor Cocklin said.

Professor Aikhenvald is a research leader at JCU’s Cairns Institute and Director of JCU’s Language and Culture Research Centre.

The Australian Laureate Fellowship will help her further and expand her work in the area of correlations between languages and cultures, and analysing endangered languages in tropical areas, especially Papua New Guinea.

It will also be instrumental in strengthening linguistics within JCU and creating a multidisciplinary team of researchers working on gender, with a focus on previously undescribed languages.

Professor Hughes has been Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies based at JCU since its establishment in 2005. He joined JCU in 1990 and has previously been awarded two Federation Fellowships.

His Australian Laureate project aims to undertake a novel, multi-disciplinary program of research on coral reefs to better understand and avoid dangerous ecological tipping points.

The research will cement Australia’s leading contribution to reef science and will guide the management and sustainable use of ecosystems around the world.

Two of the other recipients named today – Professor Malcolm McCulloch from the University of Western Australia and Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg from the University of Queensland – are Deputy Directors of the Centre of Excellence for Coral reef Studies.

Senator Evans said the fellowship would allow some of the world’s most distinguished researchers to tackle the big issues the world faces in the 21st Century.

“The Laureate Fellowships give some of our best researchers the ability to tackle complex problems and undertake ground-breaking research – research that will deliver real benefits to Australians,” Senator Evans said.

Senator Evans said that the Australian Laureate fellowships were about boosting our research workforce by providing new opportunities in Australia for the world’s best researchers.

“The Laureate Fellowships allow us to attract some of the best international researchers and forge strong international links – a growing priority as we head further into the Asian Century,” he said.

“We also get to keep hold of our best and brightest researchers by giving them access to world-class facilities and allowing them to deliver world-class research right here at home.

“These Laureates will also help foster the next generation of researchers by giving them the opportunity to join their fellowship teams and benefit from training and mentoring.”

Issued: July 30, 2012

JCU Media: Jim O’Brien 07 4781 4822