Research Group

Primary Investigator and laboratory head

Dr Kate Hutson

Kate Hutson's research examines aquatic animal parasitology issues that impact wild and farmed fish populations. She integrates parasite species discovery and biology (taxonomy, life cycles, ecology and behaviour) with practical, applied research (risk-assessment, disease diagnosis, management and treatment) designed to deliver tangible outcomes for conservation, fisheries, aquaculture industry and biosecurity management (see Research Gate profile). This combination of pure and applied research has led to the development of unique and strong partnerships between industry and government agencies. Kate has led the Marine Parasitology Laboratory at James Cook University since 2010. She currently supervises eight postgraduate students and teaches undergraduate and postgraduate classes in aquaculture, sustainable aquaculture and aquatic animal health each year.

PhD Students

Alexander Brazenor

Alexander Brazenor became interested in parasitology and its effects on animal health whilst studying at James Cook University, Queensland during his undergraduate degree. He conducted his Honours year in the laboratory in 2011 and commenced a PhD the next year. His research focus is on the phylogeny, biology, and management of monogenean ectoparasites (species in Neobenedenia) which threaten the aquaculture of dozens of species of finfish. He has presented his research at numerous conferences and has been recognised on a number of occasions for his presentation skills (a High Commendation at the Australian Society for Parasitology and 2nd prize for Outstanding Student Presentation for the Fisheries Research Development Corporation conference). He is now in the final stages of completing his doctorate.

Giana Gomes

Giana Gomes is a veterinarian who graduated from Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco in 2003. In the same year she started working on the largest prawn/shrimp hatchery from Brazil (Aquatec). Her MSc work dealt with prawn diseases caused by intracellular bacteria, and she is pursuing a PhD on developing new tools for early detection of ciliate parasites in farmed barramundi. Giana is a certified Aquatic Veterinarian by the WAVMA. She also works as part of The Fish Vet team covering prawn and fish farms from Queensland. Recently she won the 2016 Minister and Science and Innovation Award which recognises the best emerging young talent in rural Australian industries. Giana's main research interest is developing new molecular diagnostics of diseases for aquatic animals.

Alejandro Trujillo González

Alejandro Trujillo-Gonzalez is originally from Cali, Colombia. He graduated from Los Andes University with a BSc in Biology in 2010, working with parasitic nematodes of mosquito larvae as potential biological controls of mosquito-borne diseases. He completed a Graduate Diploma of Research Methods at JCU in 2013. His Masters of Philosophy was completed in 2015 in the Marine Parasitology Laboratory with research on the behaviour and histopathology of the ectoparasite Neobenedenia infecting barramundi. For his PhD, Alejandro conducts research on parasites infecting ornamental fish imported into Australia, with a focus on new molecular detection techniques and strategic approaches to improve biosecurity protocols. He is interested in parasite-host interactions, parasite ecology and novel detection techniques to identify and diagnose parasite infections.

David Vaughan

David Brendan Vaughan originates from South Africa and joined the team in June 2015. David was awarded the International Post-Graduate Research (IPRS) and a Prestige scholarships at James Cook University to pursue his PhD on cleaner shrimp research and their ability to remove ectoparasites from fishes. Surprisingly, very little is known about cleaner shrimps compared to what is known about cleaner fishes. David is investigating their cleaning efficacy and cleaning preference using different ectoparasite models, and their ability to influence wound healing in injured fishes. David's previous work focussed on parasite taxonomy, biology and treatments specifically in captive fishes. His work on the monogenean family Hexabothriidae was awarded the Junior Neitz Medal in Parasitology by the Parasitological Society of Southern Africa (PARSA), and his contribution to aquatic animal health research in public aquaria was awarded the Bernard Harrison and Friends award for Best Professional Development by the African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZB). David worked previously in a professional capacity for just over 15 years and has authored nine new parasite species.

Jonathan Barton

Jonathan Barton has always been fascinated with the marine realm, starting his first saltwater aquarium at the age of 12. Jonathan's passion for ornamental aquaria later blossomed into Acropora husbandry and coral propagation efforts within the hobbyist community. He graduated with a BSc in Biology from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California where he also completed an Honours project examining models for coral bleaching. He is currently a PhD candidate (commenced March 2016) conducting research under an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) award and has published an extensive review on coral propagation techniques (see Publications). Jonathan's research focuses on coral parasites, particularly those which infest Acropora species and hinder coral propagation efforts. He is working in conjunction with the SeaSim staff at the Australian Institute for Marine Science (AIMS) to help understand A cropora-eating flatworm prevention and control.

Conni Sidabalok

Conni Sidabalok is originally from Indonesia and currently works on the taxonomy and phylogeny of cirolanid isopods with an emphasis on coral reef-associated species from Indonesia and adjacent areas. Isopod biodiversity is relatively understudied in the Indo-Malaysia region. Conni is combining morphology and molecular approaches to address the relationship between the species and the representative genera within the family as well as to demonstrate the biogeography of the family members. She is supervised by Kate and Dr Niel Bruce at the Museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville.

Katie Motson

Katie Motson is originally from North Yorkshire, England and joined the Marine Parasitology Lab in January 2017. Hailing originally from a background in Physical Geography, her passion for the environment, conservation and coral reef ecology transported her to Australia, where she completed her MSc in Marine Biology & Ecology at James Cook University in 2014. During her MSc, Katie investigated the thermal developmental acclimation capacity of three tropical wrasse species. As part of her PhD, Katie will be exploring the relationship between coral reef health and parasitic infection in herbivorous coral reef fishes. Her research interests include parasite ecology, parasite-host interactions and coral reef ecology.

Masters Students

Soranot Chotnipat

Soranot Chotnipat is originally from Thailand and came to James Cook University to complete a Master of Science in 2013. He completed a minor research project in the Marine Parasitology Laboratory with Kate Hutson and Terry Miller on diplectanid monogeneans infecting wild and farmed barramundi. He published his findings in Systematic Parasitology and presented his research at the 50th Australian Society for Parasitology Conference in Canberra in 2014. Soranot has continued in the laboratory for his Masters of Philosophy and is examining the efficacy of praziquantel (an anthelmintic) on external monogenean infections of fish.

Julian Wilson

Julian Wilson graduated from Macquarie University in 2014 where he completed a Bachelor of Marine Science. During his undergraduate degree he studied the impact of boat moorings on seagrass populations in New South Wales estuaries. Julian is currently completing a Master of Science majoring in aquaculture and technology at JCU and he has a strong interest in fish production and health. His Masters minor research project aims to document parasite assemblages of invasive tilapia Oreochromis mossambicus in north Queensland river systems.

Past staff and students

Alejandro Trujillo González

Alejandro completed his Masters of Philosophy in the lab in 2015 – now a PhD student in the lab

Josh Allas

Josh completed his Masters of Applied Science in the lab in 2015 – now working at Sealife Aquarium in Melbourne.

Daniel Brady

Worked as a volunteer in the Marine Parasitology Laboratory for seven months in 2014 – recently graduated from the University of Glasgow with a Master of Science in Infection Biology.

Terrence Miller

Terry completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Marine Parasitology Laboratory from 2012-2015 – now a Senior Research Scientist, Aquatic Animal Health group at Western Australia Fisheries.

Dinh Hoai

Dinh Hoai completed his Masters of Applied Science in the lab in 2012 – now a lecturer at Hanoi University of Agriculture, Vietnam

Alex Brazenor

Alex completed his first class Honours project in 2011 – now a PhD student in the lab.

Emma Brock

Emma Brock completed her first class Honours project in 2010 – now a Research Assistant at SARDI Aquatic Sciences

Sarah Catalano

Sarah completed her first class Honours project in 2009 – now a postdoctoral fellow at the South Australian Museum