Jan Strugnell is the Director of the Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture.  She investigates the evolution and function of marine organisms using genomic and proteomic techniques. Her research encompasses both applied and blue skies questions.

Jan applies next generation sequencing tools to help solve bottlenecks in fisheries and aquaculture industries.  Supported by the ARC, her laboratory group is investigating population differentiation, recruitment and adaptation in a range of commercially important lobster species and are investigating the genetic basis for resilience and susceptibility to temperature stress in abalone.  Jan also works on marine species that are shifting range in response to climate change and employs eDNA techniques to detect rare and invasive aquatic and marine organisms. A/Prof Strugnell also investigates population and species level molecular evolution in Antarctic and deep-sea taxa in the context of past climatic and geological change.

A/Prof Strugnell completed her BSc (hons) at James Cook University before obtaining her DPhil at Oxford University, UK, funded by a Rhodes Scholarship.  During her DPhill she used molecular and fossil evidence to investigate phylogenetic relationship and divergence times within cephalopods (octopus, squids and cuttlefish).  A/Prof Strugnell then worked as a post doctoral research fellow at Queen's University, Belfast, the British Antarctic Survey and Cambridge University, UK, where she investigated evolutionary relationships within and between Antarctic and deep-sea octopods.

PhD, Masters, honours and minor projects are available in my group and enquiries are welcome. Please submit a short cover (1 page max.) letter detailing your suitability and interest, academic transcript and a CV with contact details for two referees by email.

  • AQ2002: Aquaculture of Tropical Species (Level 2; TSV)
  • AQ3007: Aquatic Animal Ecophysiology (Level 3; TSV)
  • AQ5007: Aquatic Animal Ecophysiology (Level 5; TSV)
  • AQ5009: Aquaculture of Tropical Species (Level 5; TSV)
  • AQ5807: Aquaculture: Animal Ecophysiology (Level 5; TSV)
  • AQ5809: Aquaculture in the Tropics (Level 5; TSV)
  • BZ3450: Ecological and Conservation Genetics (Level 3; TSV)
  • MB2080: Invertebrate Biology (Level 2; TSV)
  • MB5380: Invertebrate Biology (Level 5; TSV)
  • 2010 to 2016 - Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Assoc. Prof., La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia)
  • 2008 to 2009 - Lloyd’s Tercentenary fellow, University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK)
  • 2004 to 2007 - Post doctoral research fellow, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge/Queen’s University (Cambirdge/Belfast, UK)
  • 2000 to 2004 - Rhodes Scholar, Oxford University (Oxford, UK)
  • 1999 to 2000 - Experimental Research Scientist, Australian Institute of Marine Science (Townsville, Australia)
  • 1998 to 1999 - Bachelor of Science (honours), James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 1995 to 1997 - Bachelor of Science, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
Research Disciplines
  • 2010 - James Cook University Outstanding Alumni Award
  • 2015 to 2017 - Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant - Lost at sea? Understanding adaptation and dispersal in spiny lobsters (Jan Strugnell, Bridget Green, Nicholas Murphy, James Bell)
  • 2015 to 2017 - FRDC : Patterns of interaction between habitat & oceanographic variables affecting the connectivity and productivity of invertebrate fisheries (D Ierodiaconou, A Miller, E Treml, S Swearer, N Murphy, J Strugnell, H Gorfine, C Sherman, B Green, M Young).
  • 2016 - One of Impact Design Hub’s “40 under 40” recognizing some of the brightest young minds at work designing for social good.
  • 2011 to 2013 - Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant - Stress transcriptomics: development of tests to reduce the incidence of summer mortality in abalone (Jan Strugnell)
  • 2010 to 2011 - Australia and Pacific Science Foundation grant - Gene flow, adaptation and speciation in Antarctic octopus: consequences of climate change (Jan Strugnell)
  • 2006 to 2009 - Best scientific paper on cephalopod research awarded by the Cephalopod International Advisory Council (CIAC)
  • 2000 to 2004 - Rhodes Scholarship, Oxford University, UK
  • 2008 to 2010 - Lloyd’s Tercentenary Foundation Fellowship. Postdoctoral Research Grant
  • 2005 to 2007 - Antarctic Funding Initiative (NERC). Postdoctoral grant. Did Antarctic octopuses colonise the deep sea?

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 104+ research outputs authored by Prof Jan Strugnell from 2003 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Australian Research Council - Special Research Initiatives Scheme

Securing Antarctica's Environmental Future

Indicative Funding
$1,661,599 over 7 years (administered by Monash University)
This program aims to deliver unprecedented research capability for securing Antarctic environments in the face of uncertain change. By integrating a highly skilled team with new approaches and breakthrough technologies, the program anticipates discovery science, enhanced environmental forecasting and optimised decision-making to advance Australia?s position as an influential Antarctic nation. Expected outcomes include better environmental management, unparalleled strategic decision-support for an effective Antarctic Treaty, and new minds to address Antarctica?s new challenges. Anticipated benefits are the means to transform environmental forecasting and management in the Antarctic, for Australia, and to the advantage of global security.
Steven Chown, Jan Strugnell, Sharaon Robinson, Kerrie A Wilson, Andrew MacKinnon, Melodie McGeoch and Michael Bode (Monash University, College of Science & Engineering, University of Wollongong and Queensland University of Technology)
Climate; Ecosystem; Global Change; Antarctica; Environment

Australian Research Council - Linkage - Industrial Transformation Research Hubs

ARC Research Hub for Supercharging Tropical Aquaculture Through Genetic Solutions

Indicative Funding
$4,996,503 over 4 years, in partnership with Australian Genome Research Facility ($150,000); Cygnet Bay Pearls PL ($500,000); Mainstream Aquaculture ($500,000); Sea Forest Pty Ltd ($500,000) and THE COMPANY ONE PTY LTD ($500,000)
This project aims to integrate cutting edge genetic and genomic approaches into innovative aquaculture enterprises that farm in tropical northern Australia. It will deliver the requisite genetic knowledge to instigate world-leading and highly productive breeding programs for five species (barramundi, pearl oyster, prawn, grouper and marine seaweed), along with a novel understanding of the genetic basis of disease resistance and how the production environment interfaces with the bacterial microbiome, pathogens and water quality to cause disease. It will increase Australia's capacity to deliver advanced genetics outcomes to the aquaculture sector, while increasing productivity, international competitiveness, and lowered risk due to disease.
Dean Jerry, Kyall Zenger, Benjamin Hayes, Rocky de Nys, David Bourne, Andreas Lopata, Ron White, Jan Strugnell, Chaoshu Zeng, Kelly Condon, Mostafa Rahimi Azghadi, Ira Cooke, Leo Nankervis and Carla Ewels (College of Science & Engineering, The University of Queensland, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Selective Breeding; Genomics; Aquaculture

Australian Research Council - Linkage - Projects

Understanding population growth time lags in invasive species: Chital deer as a model system.

Indicative Funding
$394,015 over 5 years, in partnership with QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries ($80,000)
Lags in population growth of introduced species are common, but poorly understood. Chital deer (Axis axis) are an invasive species introduced to Australia over 130 years ago, but their numbers have only increased dramatically in the past 30-40 years. We will use data collected from wild animals, landholder surveys, and computer simulation models to clarify causes of sudden population expansion in more detail. Understanding lags will allow us to understand their causes, and better control populations of invasive species. By predicting drivers of rapid population growth, we can better mitigate the associated economic and environmental costs of invasive species.
Ben Hirsch, Lin Schwarzkopf and Jan Strugnell in collaboration with Tony Pople (College of Science & Engineering and Department of Agriculture and Fisheries)
chital (Axis axis); Invasive Species; landscape geneticfs; beef production demography; deer

Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment - National Environmental Science Program 2 (NESP 2) - Marine and Coastal Hub (NESP MAC Hub)

National Assessment of Climate-Driven Species Redistribution using Citizen Science Data

Indicative Funding
$6,500 over 1 year
This project will develop a report card assessing Australian marine species to determine species that have undergone recent changes in distribution, either shifting into each State, or into new areas within States. This report card will draw upon citizen science databases and use a robust decision tree analysis developed by our team to outline which species are shifting, and with what degree of certainty. Project objectives are to 1. draw upon citizen scientists to identify climate-driven changes within the Australian marine estate; and 2. communicate to and engage with the public on issues of climate change and biodiversity using their own citizen science information. The report card can be used to drive public interest in the NESP Hub and in the status of biodiversity in Australia.
Gretta Pecl, Barrett Wolfe, Jan Strugnell and Shannon Kjeldsen (University of Tasmania and College of Science & Engineering)
climate; marine; range shift

PADI Foundation - Research Grant

Using baseline gene expression of corals as a predictor of susceptibility to heat stress on the Great Barrier Reef

Indicative Funding
$10,670 over 1 year
My work explores the patterns of local thermal adaptation in multiple coral species across the GBR. I will investigate genetic changes responsible for differential thermal resilience within populations. This project will identify genes which are upregulated in more tolerant individuals, making these genes potential candidates for genetic markers of coral thermal tolerance. Such transcriptional markers will allow us to explore rapidly quantifiable metrics of thermal tolerance. Specific objectives are outlined below. ? Identify differentially expressed genes in susceptible and resistant individuals. ? Develop gene markers to predict coral heat stress responses to be deployed on large spatial scales.
Josephine Nielsen, Ira Cooke, Jan Strugnell, Line Bay, D Suggett and Kate Quigley (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, College of Science & Engineering, Australian Institute of Marine Science, University of Technology and Sydney)
Acropora tenuis (Family Acroporidae); Gene expression; RNASeq; Thermal tolerance; Bioinformatics; Coral

Queensland Department of Environment and Science - Citizen Science Grants

Extending REDMAP to Queensland

Indicative Funding
$30,000 over 2 years
REDMAP (Range Extension Database & Mapping project) is a citizen science initiative inviting fishers, divers and boater to submit photographs of unusual fish sightings to an interactive website (www.redmap.org.au). The project seeks to inform, engage and educate fishers, divers and boaters about fish that are shifting southwards in accordance with warming waters. This project will continue to roll out this initiative across Queensland through public talks at fishing and diving clubs in conjunction with the distribution of brochures, dive plans and stickers highlighting the fish species for citizen scientists to keep a look out for while they are on or in the water.
Jan Strugnell (College of Science & Engineering)
Fish; climate change; range extension

Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment - Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Implementing artificial intelligence for the quantitative assessment of abalone in production systems

Indicative Funding
$19,481 over 2 years (administered by Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)
This project will aim to develop, train, validate and implement an artificial intelligence model to identify and count abalone and measure quantitative abalone traits in production systems from an image. Currently, stock assessment is conducted manually, with large costs associated for the farms. This solution would reduce the cost of stock assessments and would greatly improve data quantity and quality using a ?hands-off? approach. The model would also provide an advanced platform for further R & D improvements above and beyond basic assessments (e.g. growth monitoring in feeding trials).
Phoebe Arbon and Jan Strugnell (College of Science & Engineering)
Artificial Intelligence; Machine Learning; Aquaculture; Haliotis laevigata (Greenlip Abalone)

Fisheries Research & Development Corporation - Annual Competitive Round

Application of a machine learning approach for effective stock management of abalone

Indicative Funding
$115,649 over 2 years
Determining the number and size distribution of abalone present at various stages of production is critical information for effective stock management. Currently the Australian abalone aquaculture industry spends in the order of $25,000 per annum, per farm, gathering this information by hand. However, the resulting data is of mediocre quality, is limited in its scope, and collecting the data causes stress to the animals which can compromise growth and survival. Automated counting and measuring of abalone will increase farm efficiency and productivity in the short term and, in the longer term, will provide an advanced platform for further R&D improvements. Artificial intelligence and machine learning has now matured to a point that accurately counting and measuring abalone is possible using this approach. This project would involve the development, training and validation of a machine learning model to identify, segment and measure quantitative abalone traits in production systems, and render the product data to be accessible and applicable for farmers.
Jan Strugnell, Marcus Sheaves, Carlo Mattone, Ickjai Lee, Joanne Lee, Jason Holdsworth and Art (Hemmaphan) Suwanwiwat (College of Science & Engineering)
Abalone (Haliotidae); Machine Learning

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Reef Trust Partnership

Extending the success of REDMAP Australia to Queensland

Indicative Funding
$91,883 over 2 years
REDMAP (Range Extension Database & Mapping project) is a citizen science initiative inviting fishers, divers and boaters to submit photographs of unusual fish sightings to an interactive website (www.redmap.org.au). The project seeks to inform, engage and educate fishers, divers and boaters about fish that are shifting southwards in accordance with warming waters. This project will roll out this initiative across Queensland through public talks at fishing and diving clubs in conjunction with the distribution of brochures, dive plans and stickers highlighting the fish species for citizen scientists to keep a look out for while they are on or in the waters.
Jan Strugnell in collaboration with Gretta Pecl and Cecilia Villaneuva (College of Science & Engineering and University of Tasmania)
fiwsh; Climate Change; range extension

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Dating West Antarctic ice sheet collapse using molecular sequence data

Indicative Funding
$285,000 over 3 years
This project aims to investigate the past stability and configuration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet by examining genomic signatures in present day bottom-dwelling Antarctic marine animals. By employing this novel biological approach to address a key question for physical scientists, this project will provide an independent test of the hypothesis that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed during the most recent interglacial and formed a transAntarctic seaway. Expected project outcomes include increased resolution of the most recent collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. This should provide significant benefits in predicting future collapse and its impact on sea level rise which is a key uncertainty resulting from climate change.
Jan Strugnell in collaboration with Nicholas Golledge, Nerida Wilson and Tim Naish (College of Science & Engineering, Victoria University of Wellington and Western Australian Museum)
Palaeoclimatology; Antarctica; climate change; Sea Level Rise; Population Genomics

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) - Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub

The Northern Australia eDNA Program - Revolutionising Aquatic Monitoring and Field Surveys in Tropical Waters

Indicative Funding
$570,000 over 4 years
All organisms shed DNA into their environment. This is termed environment DNA (eDNA). Capture and analysis of eDNA (in soil or water samples) is a highly efficient and sensitive method to detect the presence of a wide range of species without actually requiring physical capture, or sighting of the organisms themselves. eDNA field sampling can involve as little as collecting water samples and
Damien Burrows, Jan Strugnell, Roger Huerlimann, Richard C Edmunds and Dean Jerry (TropWATER and College of Science & Engineering)
eDNA; Threatened Species; Northern Australia; exotic pest species; aquatic monitoring; Genetics

Department of Industry - Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program

Pearls of wisdom - Breeding for increase tolerance to juvenile pearl oyster mortality syndrome

Indicative Funding
$685,875 over 3 years (administered by Ellies Pearls)
A decade ago pearl farming was one of the major employers and contributors to the social-economic fabric of northern Australia, contributing $189.7 million farm-gate to the national economy. However, in recent years Australian pearl production has been severely impacted by episodic and large-scale mortality events by an as yet unidentified causative factor. These mortality events, termed juvenile pearl oyster mortality syndrome (or JPOMS), have resulted in massive write-downs in production and economic value of the industry. This project will develop the genetic knowledge and lay the foundation for a selective breeding program in pearl oysters that are resistance to JPOMS.
Dean Jerry, Kyall Zenger, Jan Strugnell, Dave Jones, David Jackson and James H Brown (College of Science & Engineering, Ellies Pearls and Cygnet Bay Pearls)
Pinctada maxima; JPOMS; Selective Breeding

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.

  • Genomic Prediction of Heat Tolerance in Selectively-bred Corals (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Quantifying Life History Energetics of an Oviparous Elasmobranch subject to future Warming Waters (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Drivers of Global Diversification Patterns in Marine Fishes (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Demographic, genetic and dietary analysis of introduced chital deer (axis axis) in the North Queensland dry tropics (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Developing Genetic Tools for establishing Seafood Provenance (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Combating Summer Mortality in Abalone: Can a little bit of Stress be Beneficial? (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Population Connectivity of Antarctic Marine Invertebrates (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Genome-wide assessments of thermal plasticity and theshold performance in corals across the Great Barrier Reef (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • The Biology, Monitoring and Conservation of the Endangered Giant Triton Snail, Charonia tritonis, a potential Crown-of-Thorns Biocontrol agent (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)

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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