New $22M AIMS@JCU partnership to broaden research insights and capabilities
James Cook University and AIMS have signed a new 10 year, $22m partnership that will further cement Townsville as a centre of excellence for marine science research.
AIMS@JCU is a strategic partnership between the two global leaders in tropical marine science partnership.
For 17 years, AIMS@JCU has unearthed and supported a wealth of young marine science talent with a high global profile and impact, producing over 120 PhD graduates.
The new agreement, effective from January 2022, broadens the scope of the partnership by bringing together a critical mass of tropical marine scientists with improved access to infrastructure for new insights and research capabilities. It will:
- be guided by a larger science advisory committee
- include new disciplines such as engineering and technology development, data science, social science, and Indigenous science
- invest in joint postdoctoral fellowships, doubling the number of early career researchers supported and creating greater critical mass in strategic priority areas
- support science-associated training and employment pathways, including opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
AIMS@JCU Research Director Libby Evans-Illidge said it was exciting to see the program broaden its focus to include data science, engineering and technology development and social sciences.
She said that in part, the program’s success could be attributed to the ‘above and beyond’ support AIMS provided the young researchers.
“The recent challenges of COVID-19 have seen international students lose their incomes and face travel restrictions that prevented them from returning home, often having to deal with family bereavements from afar,” she said.
“It’s been a stressful time and we have advocated for them and supported them.
“We’ll also be looking at how we can help more Indigenous applicants overcome the barrier to participate.”
An extraordinary opportunity
AIMS@JCU PhD student Mikaela Nordborg is leading an Australian-first research program investigating what would happen to young corals during an oil spill under ultra-violet light common to tropical coral reefs.
“AIMS@JCU was a wonderful opportunity for me,” she said.
“At the time I wasn’t a permanent resident and the scholarship allowed me to do my PhD in Australia.
“Pretty much all of the research I have done at AIMS wouldn’t have been possible anywhere else. The facilities are extraordinary, as is the technical expertise and support from the engineering workshop and Seasim staff.”
In addition, she received support and encouragement to develop her science communications skills, attending conferences and presenting and publishing her work as open access. She also received personal support to overcome the challenges of COVID-19 and is due to complete her thesis at the end of the year.
“The main impact of my research will hopefully be an improvement in tropical oil spill risk assessment,” she said.
“I am providing the high-quality data needed for modelling the toxicity of different oils, which can be used by mangers and regulators – as well as industry – when doing environmental impact assessment.”
James Cook University Provost Professor Chris Cocklin said both organisations and the Townsville community continued to benefit immensely from the longstanding partnership.
“AIMS and JCU produce world-leading research in marine science and we are excited to embark on a new era,” he said.
“Investment in areas such as new disciplines, joint postdoctoral fellowships, science associated-training and employment pathways will only enhance this partnership.
“The incorporation of data science, engineering and technology development and social sciences into this agreement allows AIMS@JCU to add further depth as it strives to fulfill its vision of collectively addressing national and international priorities with leading edge science outcomes.”
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