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

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.

Pauline Narvaez

Pauline Narvaez completed her MSc in 2013 in Lisbon, Portugal, on cleaner fish behaviour and fish ectoparasites in the Northeastern Atlantic. From 2014-2015 she took part in several scientific projects and travelled to several countries (Portugal, The Bahamas and Brazil) that helped her to build scientific collaborations in the area of marine fish and parasite ecology. By late 2016 and throughout 2017, she had the opportunity to participate in three extended field trips to the Great Barrier Reef (Lizard Island Research Station, Australia) examining the relationship between ectoparasites, their fish hosts and cleaner fish with Dr Alexandra Grutter (University of Queensland) and Dr Paul Sikkel (Arkansas State University). From March to June 2017, she volunteered in the Marine Parasitology Laboratory at James Cook University, where she took part in various experiments. She loved it so much that she decided to apply for a James Cook University Postgraduate Research Scholarship (JCUPRS) and got it! Pauline will be pursuing her research interests in cleaner organisms for her PhD and will be co-supervised by Professor Mark McCormick (co-supervisor).

Masters Students

Xian Zhe (Jonathan) Chew

Jonathan Chew previously volunteered in the Marine Parasitology Laboratory during his undergraduate degree at JCU, prior to returning to his home country of Singapore. In 2016 he worked as an assistant Fish Health Manager in finfish aquaculture. He is now pursuing higher degree research at James Cook University, Singapore, under the supervision of Associate Professor Jennifer Cobcroft and Kate (co-supervisor). His research will focus on ectoparasitic infections in grouper aquaculture in Singapore.

Tian Xu

Tian Xu comes from Xiamen, a small island along the south-eastern coast of China. Growing up on an island, he developed a strong bond with the ocean. Tian is interested in life cycles of aquatic life and has built several breeding systems for ornamental hobbyists since 2013. He graduated from Xiamen University with a BSc in Marine Science in 2015 and completed a Graduate Diploma of Research Methods at JCU in 2016. He commenced his MPhil in 2017 with A/Prof.Chaoshu Zeng and Kate (co-supervisor) which will focus on the breeding techniques of marine ornamental crabs, as well as the biology of their early life stages.

Past staff and students

Giana Gomes

Giana completed her PhD in the lab in 2017 – now a TropINTERN as part of the James Cook University Program.

Alexander Brazenor

Alexander Brazenor completed his Honours and PhD in the lab in 2017- now working as a Policy Officer, Animal Biosecurity, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in Canberra, Australia.

Julian Wilson

Julian Wilson completed his MSc Graduate Diploma in the lab in 2017 – now a research assistant at MBD energy.

Thienthanh Trinh

Thienthanh volunteered in the laboratory for six months in 2016 – now a PhD student at University of Central Florida, USA.

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 for Live Fish Imports, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Xian Zhe (Jonathan) Chew

Worked as a volunteer in the Marine Parasitology Laboratory in 2015 – now working as a Masters student in the lab.

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.

Soranot Chotnipat

Soranot completed his Masters of Applied Science in 2014.

Dinh Hoai

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

Thane Millitz

Thane Militz completed his Honours in the lab in 2012 - now a postdoctoral fellow at University of the Sunshine Coast.

Natalie Bool

Natalie Bool worked as a Research Associate in the lab in 2011 – now a PhD student at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, the University of Tasmania.

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