Dr Ellen Ariel is Associate Professor in the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences with a special interest in Aquatic Animal Health.

Ellen has a background with the European Commission as Coordinator of the 25 National Reference Laboratories for Fish Diseases in the European Union. The overall focus was on biosecurity of aquatic animals, especially aquaculture, and standardizing and harmonizing diagnostic capacity across borders to prevent spread of disease and facilitate safe trade in live fish. She was also heavily involved in harnessing and delivering scientific advice to policy makers as well as assessing and advising research directions in the EU Aquatic Animal Disease sector.

 Ellen’s interest in Aquatic Animal Health has influenced her undergraduate teaching is centered on diagnostic techniques for bacterial and viral diseases in aquaculture. Ellen’s team of higher degree research students, interns and placement students focus mostly on sea turtle health. Her expertise has  been a conduit for membership on one international and three national boards concerned with biosecurity of aquaculture and wild aquatic species.

The Turtle Health Research Facility, The Caraplace, is housing the Turtles and the Team of volunteers and researchers. This group is active in creating awareness around turtle health via the media, PhD and Masters graduates, peer-reviewed publications and the release of turtle inhabitants back on the Great Barrier Reef.

  • MI2011: Microbial Diversity (Level 2; TSV)
  • MI2031: Diagnosis of Bacterial Diseases in Aquaculture (Level 2; TSV)
  • MI3031: Diagnosis of Viral Disease in Aquaculture (Level 3; TSV)
  • MI5003: Diagnosis of Bacterial Diseases in Aquaculture (Level 5; TSV)
  • MI5031: Diagnosis of Viral Disease in Aquaculture (Level 5; TSV)
  • RM8301: Research Planning in Tropical Health and Medicine (Level 8; CNS & TSV)
  • RM8302: Research Project in Tropical Health and Medicine (Level 8; CNS & TSV)
  • Since early 2020, I have enjoyed the role of Associate Dean of Research Education in the CPHMVS. I am a member of two Australian Government boards for Aquatic Animal Health and Biosecurity. I am also a founding member and the Australian representative on the board of the Global Ranavirus Consortium and received an Outstanding Leadership and Service Award in 2019. My work across cultures and stakeholders around turtle health research, earned me the Excellence in Community Engagement award for my Contribution and Commitment to JCU's Strategic Intent in 2019.
  • My interest in Aquatic Animal Health is centred round Biosecurity for aquaculture (food security and livelihood) and wildlife (environmental impacts). My interest and expertise in virology has allowed me to explore both commercial directions of aquatic epidemiology, but also the health and welfare of sea turtles and freshwater turtles. I received the College award for Research Excellence in Biomedicine in 2018.
  • In response to Aquaculture industry needs, I created 2 subjects: MI2031/MI5003: Diagnosis of Bacterial Diseases in Aquaculture and MI3031/5031: Diagnosis of Viral Diseases in Aquaculture, and rolled them out for the first time in 2020. Post graduate research and placement students make up the biggest proportion of my teaching these days. Since 2018, I have completed 7 PhDs as primary advisor, 10 MSc minor projects, 15 professional placements, 5 internships and 38 veterinary students on rotation. I received the JCU Primary Advisor of the Year Award in 2019.
  • 2019 to present - Associate Dean of Research, College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2019 to present - University Representative for Australia and New Zealand. Sub-Committee for Aquatic Animal Health, Australian Government (Australia)
  • 2018 to present - Scientific Advisory Committee, Aquatic Animal Health Subprogram, Fisheries Research and Development Council (Australia)
  • 2018 to present - Senior Laboratory Scientist. AquaPath, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2016 to present - Associate Professor Virology, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2009 to present - Team leader for the Turtle Health Research Group at the Vet School. Involving many colleagues, postgraduate students, undergraduates and interns, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2005 to 2008 - Coordinator of RANA Risk assessment of new and emerging systemic iridoviral diseases for European fish and aquatic ecosystems., European Community (Denmark, Europe)
  • 2003 to 2008 - Policy Advisor to Commission Decisions related to control of diseases in Aquatic Animals, European Community (Bruxelles, Europe)
  • 1997 to 2008 - Expert on international audits of Third Countries, European Food and Veterinary Office (Global audits)
  • 1997 to 2008 - Coordinator of the Reference Laboratory for Fish Diseases in European Community, European Community (Denmark, Europe)
  • 2004 to 2007 - Steering group Member. PANDA Permanent Advisory Network for Diseases in Aquacultue., European Community (Denmark, Europe)
  • 2005 to 2006 - Danish Representative on Comparative Risk Profile of Fish Diseases in the Nordic Countries, Danish Veterinary Institute (Denmark, Europe)
  • 1993 to 1997 - PhD Aquatic Pathology, Department of Biomedical and Tropical Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, Queensland, Australia. Thesis title: Pathogenesis and Serological Assessment of Bohle Iridovirus Infections in Aquatic Reptiles. (Townsville, Australia)
Research Disciplines
  • 2019 - Primary Advisor of the Year, James Cook University
  • 2019 - Excellence in Community Engagement. Contribution and Commitment to JCU's Strategic Intent. Awarded by JCU
  • 2019 - Outstanding Leadership and Service Award on the Global Ranavirus Consortium Board.
  • 2018 - Outdoor Turtle Nursery Facility – Multiple Donors $81.500
  • 2018 - Research Excellence in Biomedicine. Awarded by the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University
  • 2016 - Excellence in Teaching Award. Veterinarians in Education Research and Academia. Australian Veterinary Association.
  • 2016 - Purpose built Turtle Health Research Facility – Multiple Donors $198.000.
  • 2015 - JCU Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning
  • 2014 - JCU Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning
  • 2015 to 2016 - JCU grant: $ 2000. Research partnerships beyond the University: Research and teaching nexus in the field. https://youtu.be/fBaFs0mPLvE
  • 2005 to 2008 - Coordinator of the RANA project. 1.6M € project with 6 international partners. Risk assessment of new and emerging systemic iridoviral diseases for European fish and aquatic ecosystems
  • 2004 to 2007 - Steering Group Member for the PANDA project (Permanent Advisory Network for Diseases in Aquaculture) which cooperated with over 400 scientists to seek policy advise for the European Commission.
  • 2013 - Australian representative on the Board of the Global Ranavirus Consortium
  • 2005 - Honorary position as Senior Consultant of the Inspection and Quarantine Technology Center, Lianyungang Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau of P.R. China.
  • 2003 to 2007 - Editor in Chief for the Journal: the European Association of Fish Pathologist (EAFP) Bulletin
  • 2019 - Member of the Sub-Committee for Aquatic Animal Health, as the representative for Australian / New Zealand Universities. (Australian Government)
  • 2018 - Member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Aquatic Animal Health and Biosecurity Subprogram. FRDC. (Australian Government)
  • 2017 - Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine
  • 2015 - American Fisheries Society
  • 2012 - Wildlife Health Australia. Australian Universities Focus Group.
  • 2011 - Centers of Excellence: Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture
  • 2011 - Centers of Excellence: TropWATER - Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research
  • 2003 - Asian Fisheries Society
  • 2013 to 2021 - Australian representative on the Global Ranavirus Consortium Board.
  • 2008 - Expert on panel for fish health and welfare under European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
  • 2013 to 2021 - Human Ethics Monitor at the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
  • 2002 to 2020 - Expert and Reader for the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) on the Aquatic Animal Code and Manual on ranaviral diseases of fish and amphibians
  • 2005 to 2008 - Expert in audits of 3rd countries for the EC Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) for approval to export live and processed fish into the EU

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 71+ research outputs authored by A/Prof Ellen Ariel from 2005 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Townsville City Council - Contract Research

Ecological Impact of Antibiotic Resistance Released from the Cleveland Bay Purification Plant using Marine Turtle Species

Indicative Funding
$260,139 over 3 years
Cleveland Bay is a grazing ground for turtle species. Cleveland Bay Purification plant (CBPP) treats waste that may contain a variety of antibiotics. This study aims to determine the prevalence and distribution patterns of antibiotic resistant genes in the CBPP effluent and in the immediate receiving environment. Marine turtles in Cleveland Bay will be used to determine the localized impacts of both antibiotics and antibiotic resistant genes as compared to resident turtles from a pristine environment. This study will provide valuable insight into the direct effect that antibiotics and ARG?s in WWTP effluent have on ecological health and ecological risk.
Madoc Sheehan, Robert Kinobe, Ellen Ariel, Roger Huerlimann, Kezia Drane, Anna Whelan and Ian Bell (College of Science & Engineering, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Townsville City Council and QLD Department of Environment and Science)
Anitbiotics; Turtle; Risk Assessment; Antibiotic Resistant Genes; Wastewater Treatment; Microbiota

Centre for Invasive Species Solutions - Contract Research

Tilapia Biocontrol Project.

Indicative Funding
$15,000 over 2 years
Determine the susceptibility of two tilapia species present in Australian waterways (O. mossambicus and T. mariae ) to TiLV and demonstrate the efficacy of TiLV as a potential biocontrol agent for tilapia in Australia.
Argus Sunarto, Marc Seifert, Andrew Barnes, Bonnie Holmes and Ellen Ariel (Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation, QLD Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, The University of Queensland, University of the Sunshine Coast, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Tilapia Oreochromis mossambicus; Tilapia Tilapia mariae; Invasive pests; Australian waterways ecology; Tilapia lake virus; Biological control agent

World Wide Fund for Nature - Contract Research

Metal concentrations in green turtles on the Great Barrier Reef

Indicative Funding
$15,000 over 1 year
The aim of this study is to investigate metal concentrations in green turtles foraging at four study sites before and after the wet season and the 2019 North Queensland flood event. Funding is requested for ICP-MS sample analysis of metal exposure in seagrass species and green turtles with the aim of better understanding the full extent of metal exposure at a number of coastal study sites of the Northern Great Barrier Reef, impacted by anthropogenic activity.
Ellen Ariel in collaboration with Adam Wilkinson (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Green Turtle (Chelonia Mydas); Heavy Metals; Marine Environment; Seagrass; Blood Concentrations; Scute Concentration

CRC for Developing Northern Australia Scheme - Projects

Biosecurity in northern Australian prawn aquaculture

Indicative Funding
$441,819 over 2 years
This project addresses biosecurity risk through conducting the first comprehensive and widespread biosecurity audit of Australian prawn farms. This project has two components. The first is to conduct a biosecurity metanalysis using traditional and molecular diagnostic tools to establish what pathogens currently occur on prawn farms and how they relate to productivity. Secondly, once the pathobiome is established the project will formulate a risk management strategy for industry and provide on-farm biosecurity training. Understanding the risk of disease, and increased capacity to detect and monitor on-farm, will lead to more effective management practices for northern Australian prawn aquaculture.
Dean Jerry, Ellen Ariel, Kelly Condon and Roger Huerlimann (College of Science & Engineering, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Penaeus monodon (Penaidae); Disease; Prawn; Aquaculture

The World Wide Fund for Nature, Australia - Contract Research

Establishing Baseline Health Assessment Criteria for Green Turtles (Chelonia Mydas)

Indicative Funding
$28,909 over 4 years
The first part of this project is to optimise procedures involved in assessing turtle health. The second part is to collect data for reference ranges. The third part is to analyse influence of age, location, season, sex and exertion on the results of the assessment. The ultimate output of this project is a robust and obje3ctive method for assessing turtle health, with will facilitate diagnosis and treatment of sick animals and enable assessment of population health of green turtles.
Ellen Ariel (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Green Turtle (Chelonia Mydas); Health Assessment Turtles; Blood Parameters; Clinical Assessment; Parasites

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Assessment of the ecological risk of emerging Antibiotic Resistance released from the Cleveland Bay Purification Plant on marine Testudine species. (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Assessment of health Status in Green Turtle Populations (Chelonia Mydas) by Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis Method (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Assessment of the Ecological Risk of Emerging Contaminants Released from the Cleveland Bay Purification Plant (CBPP) (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Studies of Bellinger River Virus (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Investigating potential co-factors of Fibropapillomatosis development in Chelonia mydas of the Great Barrier Reef;; (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Turtles and tourists without borders: assessing tourism management options for Australian sea turtles both sides of the border (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • Investigating Herpesvirus Infection in Australian wildlife (PhD , Advisor Mentor)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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