Meet our Research Students

CMERC hosts Phd and and Master’s research students across a range of our key programmes. For more information about our current PhD students and their research, see their Research Student profiles. CMERC’s PhD programme and scholarships are an opportunity for talented individuals to embark on their career in a vibrant and collaborative research culture. If you are interested in pursuing a research higher degree, please get in touch to find out about our current opportunities

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Elizabeth Andrews standing with her vehicle with the ocean in the background

Elizabeth Andrews

Thesis Title: Understanding local adaptation and trait-based selection for seagrass restoration success

Supervisor: Associate Professor Emma Jackson

In a collaboration between Deakin University and the University Australia’s Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC), Elizabeth is examining local adaptations of seagrass from differing light environments, in sub-tropical Queensland. Focusing on  Zostera muelleri, Elizabeth’s research aims to enhance the understanding on the importance of trait-based selection to promote resilience and persistence in restored seagrass meadows. Over the past five years Elizabeth, has worked on seagrass within Queensland’s largest multicommodity port, Port Curtis, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. She has been involved in a number of projects, mainly related to seagrass seed and transplantation based restoration methods. Now she hopes to understand the importance of considering seagrass local adaptations to improve restoration success.

Manuja Lekammudiyanse kneeling with research equipment on mudflats

Manuja Lekammudiyanse

Thesis Title: Spatiotemporal variations in seagrass flowering: Can models of seagrass flowering benefit seagrass restoration?

Supervisor: Associate Professor Emma Jackson

Manuja is examining the spatiotemporal variations in seagrass (Zostera muelleri) flowering through data collection from aquaria experiments and field surveys along the Australian east coast. She aims to find suitable locations where seed collection trials could be implemented and understand the environmental triggers for flowering to aid the design of seagrass seed nurseries. Manuja has previously completed her MPhil in the field of ecohydrological modelling at the University of Melbourne.

Rory Mulloy in PPE collecting samples from mudflats

Rory Mulloy

Thesis Title: Working with Nature Investigations for Seawall Designs in the Port of Gladstone

Supervisor: Associate Professor Emma Jackson Dr Chirs Aiken, Gordon Dwane (GPC)

In partnership with Gladstone Ports Corporation, Rory is investigating methods for incorporating habitat creation into coastal zone development works. Construction in the marine environment, such as seawalls and breakwaters, displaces key coastal habitats and disrupts ecological processes. Rory’s research will focus on trails for a ‘living seawall’ design in the Port of Gladstone, examining practical, cost-effective measures to restore impacted habitats and reestablish ecosystem services. Rory holds a Master of Science from James Cook University, and a BA Double Honours degree from the University of Manchester, in the United Kingdom.

Rachel Bryan

Rachel Bryan

Thesis Title: Investigating the contribution of groundwater to surface waters and riparian vegetation in a subtropical river catchment

Supervisor: Dr Nicole Flint

Associate Supervisor: Dr Adam Rose

Rachel Bryan commenced a Masters by research in September 2021 investigating groundwater contribution to surface waters in the upper Boyne River, above Awoonga Dam, and adjacent riparian vegetation. This project is being conducted in collaboration with the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water in Bundaberg and is also supported through the 2022 Fitzroy Partnership for River Health HeART of the Basin Scholarship. Prior to commencing her research higher degree Rachel worked for over 14 years in natural resource management overseeing a range of environmental projects. Rachel holds Bachelor of Science (Aquatic Resource Management) with Distinction and Bachelor of Applied Sciences from CQUniversity.

Jessie Gray sitting at her desk smiling at the camera

Jessie Gray

Thesis Title: Assessing the historical periodicity of damaging cyclonic events along the east coast of Australia

Supervisors: Dr Nathan English, Dr Michael Hewson

Jessie Gray obtained a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management (major in Earth Systems) and a Bachelor of Science with first-class honours from the University of Newcastle in 2018. She successfully gained a CSIRO top-up scholarship (sub-daily rainfall for extreme events) to complement a fully funded PhD stipend at CQUniversity in 2019. Her project investigates the spatial and temporal characteristics of Australian east coast cyclones. Jessie’s research applies a range of spatial analyses to cyclone tracks testing their relation to environmental conditions, climate drivers and rainfall. In addition to her PhD, Jessie has had the opportunity to collaborate with private industry partners on projects associated with heavy rainfall and flooding from atmospheric low-pressure systems, including tropical cyclones (TCs) and the CMERC team on the Gladstone mud-crab project. Jessie’s research outputs aim to provide information that is helpful to customers and end-users for more informed decisions around managing extreme weather events..

Emma Theobald in a life jacket holding a crab

Emma Theobald

Thesis Title: Seaweed cultivation for the biofiltration of nutrients from the great barrier reef lagoon

Supervisor: Associate Professor Emma Jackson

With a background in sustainable aquaculture and novel food systems, Emma is now undertaking a PhD at CQUniversity’s Gladstone Marina campus in Queensland, exploring the potential for seaweed cultivation to be used as a tool for the biofiltration of nutrients from the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon. Although the Australian coastline has ideal growing conditions for high value, native seaweeds, there are currently few ocean-based seaweed farming operations based there and the establishment of commercial seaweed farms is hindered by gaps in breeding and cultivation knowledge for many seaweed species.

Working in partnership with the Australian Seaweed Institute, Emma's project aims to contribute towards addressing this knowledge gap, supporting the development of a world-class seaweed industry in Australia and exploring the potential for seaweed biofilters to improve water quality in the Great Barrier Reef catchments. The research project has three main aims; to determine the reliable triggers for spawning mature seaweeds in the laboratory, testing the nursery conditions that optimise the attachment and growth of juvenile seaweeds and assessing the performance of nursery-reared seaweeds in reducing nutrient concentrations in seawater. The species of focus will be selected according to their distribution, history of culture and potential commercial applications.

Jack Greenshields

Jack Greenshields

Thesis Title: Where does the plastic go? Microplastic loading in seagrass vs. mangroves

Supervisor: Dr Angela Capper

Jack Greenshields commenced a PhD in November 2020 investigating the effects of microplastics on seagrasses, mangroves, and coral reefs alongside research fellow Dr. Angela Capper. His work focuses on the ability of seagrasses and mangroves to act as a barrier, trapping microplastics and preventing them from spreading to adjacent coral reefs. Jack will also be looking into potential health effects associated with this microplastic trapping ability. Prior to his work at CQU, Jack investigated the potential causes behind marine life misidentifying plastic as a food source. Jack holds a Bachelor of Science (Marine and Freshwater Biology) with Honours and a Master of Science (Biological Sciences) from the University of Hull, England.

William Dantas

William Dantas

Thesis Title: Unravelling movement patterns and use of habitat of the giant mud crab (Scylla serrata) in the East Coast of Queensland.

Supervisor: Dr Nicole Flint

William Dantas Charles has an undergraduate degree in biology, a postgraduate degree in Environmental Risk Analysis, and a Master's degree in Fisheries Resources from the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Brazil. His thesis dealt with the interactions between killer whales, false killer whales and pelagic longline fisheries in the tropical Atlantic Ocean.

Throughout a career spanning 15 years in Environmental Science, William has worked on several different projects and consultancies. He has acquired experience in population dynamics of fisheries stocks; the socioeconomic impact of small-scale fisheries; environmental impact assessment; water quality monitoring; planning, management, and economic evaluation of marine protected areas; and as an onboard observer in pelagic longline tuna and swordfish fisheries.

Currently, he is a CQUniversity PhD student in the Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC), based at the Gladstone Marina campus. His PhD project will address the movement ecology and habitat use of the Giant Mud Crab on the east coast of Queensland.

Anna Hegerty smiling

Anna Hegarty

Thesis Title: Seed Based Seagrass Restoration in Dynamic Environments

Supervisor: Associate Professor Emma Jackson

Associate Supervisors: Professor Iain Gordon and Dr Nahina Islam

Anna Hegarty commenced a PhD in February 2022 investigating seed-based seagrass restoration alongside research fellow Associate Professor Emma Jackson. Her work focuses on how spatial and temporal variability in environmental conditions influences the placement of seagrass seeds for successful establishment of seagrass. Anna will also be examining opportunities to successfully adapt UAV technology for targeted restoration. Prior to her work at CQU, Anna investigated the effect of other species, mainly cordgrass and algal mats, on the distribution of seagrass. Anna holds a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Biology) with Honours from University College Dublin, Ireland.

Mohammad Hossain smiling with crossed arms

Mohammad Amzad Hossain

Thesis Title: Female mud crabs (Scylla serrata) in Queensland’s east coast fishery: investigating life history and reproductive characteristics

Supervisor: Dr Nicole Flint

Mohammad Amzad Hossain obtained his B.Sc. Fisheries (Hons.) and MSc in Fish Biology and Genetics from the Sylhet Agricultural University, Bangladesh. In 2016, he was awarded with European best excellence scholarship "Erasmus Mundus" to commence his second Joint European MSc in Marine Environment and Resource at University of Bordeaux, France, University of Pais Vasco, Spain and University of Liege, Belgium. He worked to establish molecular mechanisms of atretic events in European hake for his European MSc project. Hereafter, in December 2020 he has been awarded with approved CMERC PhD fellowship and International Excellence Award (100% Tuition) from CQUniversity, Australia to commence his doctoral degree (a pause from January 2021 to March 2022 due to COVID-19 pandemic and Australian border restriction).

His current thesis research is entitled “Female mud crabs (Scylla serrata) in Queensland’s East Coast Fishery: Investigating life history and reproductive characteristics”. A composite of ecological, biological, molecular and, field and mesocosms trials will be employed to address the research question. He is highly interested in molecular and reproductive biology of aquatic invertebrates and climate changes impact on them. He has already worked on establishing Tilapia and freshwater mussels as an indicator of water pollutants in northeast Bangladesh.

Christopher Lowe smiling against a tree

Christopher Lowe

Thesis Title: Assessing the Value of Improved Connectivity in Subtropical Estuarine Fish Habitats

Supervisor: Dr Nicole Flint

Christopher Lowe commenced a PhD in September 2021 investigating how fish utilise different aspects of intertidal habitats alongside principal research fellow Associate Professor Nicole Flint. His work focuses on how temporal cycles influence how and when fish can inhabit these temporally available habitats. Christopher will also be assessing the potential economic and ecological value of these habitats. Prior to his work at CQU, Christopher investigated the terrestrial microhabitat selection of amphibious sea snakes. Christopher holds a Bachelor of Science (Animal Behaviour) from Flinders University, Australia, and an Bachelor of Science (One Year Honours) from the University of South Australia, Australia.

Najeen Rula standing holding a seaweed with the ocean in the background

Najeen Arabelle Rula

Thesis title: Sustainable harvesting for the rising demand on wild seaweed populations of Asparagopsis taxiformis

Supervisor: Associate Professor Emma Jackson

Associate Supervisors: Dr Angela Capper

External Supervisors: Professor Rob Kinley (FutureFeed) and Dr Adam Smith (Reef Ecologic)

Najeen holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Science in Marine Science (Marine Biology) from the University of the Philippines. She has worked on several research projects in the Philippines on the ecology and physiology of seaweeds for culture technology and management, as well as biodiversity of marine macrophytes. She is currently a PhD student at CQUniversity Gladstone Marina Campus and is working on the red sea plume (Asparagopsis taxiformis), which is attracting interest worldwide for its promising potential in curbing methane emissions as a cattle feed supplement. Her project focuses on the ecology, phenology, and population dynamics of this red seaweed to help inform the development of sustainable harvesting practices of wild stocks.

Her study will also investigate the impacts of different harvesting techniques in terms of timing and methods. The project is co-funded by CQUniversity and FutureFeed (industry partner) through the CQUniversity Elevate Scholarship. This project is also in partnership with  Reef Ecologic and the Woppaburra TUMRA Aboriginal Corporation. 

Research Higher Degrees

We see you making a real difference and changing lives with our Research Higher Degrees. Build on your experience and turn your passion into a research qualification.