scientist looks into beaker with coral in it

Developing the next generation of world-leading marine scientists

AIMS: Turning Science into Solutions

The challenge

To maintain and strengthen its position as a world-leader in marine science, Australia needs to build a pipeline of highly skilled marine scientists with expertise in relevant areas.

More broadly, it is widely recognised that to maintain Australia’s competitive edge and reach our potential for innovation, we need to increase our numbers of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM)-trained professionals. Also, women are under represented in STEM in Australia, currently making up only 13 per cent of those employed in STEM jobs.

The approach

With the highly regarded marine science programs of James Cook University (JCU) on its doorstep in Townsville, AIMS and JCU have been close collaborators facilitating the transfer of inter-generational experience since both institutions were established around 50 years ago.

In 2004, this partnership was formalised with the AIMS@JCU program, funded by a special Commonwealth allocation for PhD scholarships, joint post-doctoral fellowships, project costs and infrastructure.

The partnership was renewed at the conclusion of funding in 2013, with the joint sponsoring of higher degree research students.

The impact

Since 2004, AIMS@JCU has supported more than 120 PhD graduates, of which approximately half are women, and many other students through work-integrated learning and internships.

It has delivered substantial value to Australian marine science, particularly in establishing a world-class core capability in understanding the impact of global and local stressors on tropical marine systems; coastal processes; and quantitative marine science.

Many AIMS@JCU alumni have gone on to become global marine science leaders, collectively addressing national and international priorities with leading edge science outcomes. 

The program has helped cement Townsville’s reputation as a centre of marine science excellence in Australia. From January 2022, the scope of this long-standing partnership was strengthened and broadened with a new 10-year, $22 million agreement.

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