Prof Nakata is Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Education & Strategy at James Cook University. He is a leading Indigenous academic in Australia, and the first Torres Strait Islander to graduate with a PhD. 

His mother is a traditional owner of islands in a remote region of Australia and his dad was born in Japan. He grew up in the islands where he did all his schooling years and has an intimate understanding of the languages and customs of the Torres Strait Islander people. 

He has had an extensive academic career in the fields of Indigenous education, Indigenous Studies, and Indigenous Knowledge. His current research work includes two longitudinal studies of the academic preparation of Indigenous students for university studies, and the academic performance of Indigenous school students in Math and Science.

He has presented over seventy plenary and keynote addresses at professional conferences in Iceland, Norway, Scotland, Greece, South Africa, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Canada, United States, Peru, Aotearoa (NZ) and Australia, and has published extensively on Australian Indigenous education issues in national and international academic journals, anthologies, and books. 

He has been the co-editor of the Australian Journal of Indigenous Education for the past ten years, and continues to serve on editorial boards of academic journals in several countries as well as in Australia.


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 29+ research outputs authored by Prof Martin Nakata from 2001 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Australian Research Council - Centres of Excellence

ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage

Indicative Funding
$5,028,138 over 7 years (administered by University of Wollongong), in partnership with Flinders University ($10,000); Monash University ($14,299) and University of Wollongong ($5,000)
This Centre will create a world-class interdisciplinary research programme to understand Australia's unique biodiversity and heritage. The Centre will track the changes to Australia's environment to examine the processes responsible for the changes and the lessons that can be used to continue to adapt to Australia's changing environment. The Centre will support connections between the sciences and humanities and train future generations of researchers to deal with future global challenges and inform policy in an interdisciplinary context.
Richard Roberts, Susan O'Connor, Zenobia Jacobs, Timothy Cohen, Simon Haberle, Michael Bird, Sean Ulm, Martin Nakata, Darren Curnoe, Corey Bradshaw, Bruno David, Lynette Russell, Barry Brook and Chris Johnson in collaboration with Brit Asmussen, Geraldine Mate, Michael Slack, Jean-Jacques Delannoy, Matthew Leavesley, Stephan Stephan, Michael Storey, Kieren Mitchell, Vera Weisbecker and Janelle Stevenson (University of Wollongong, Australian National University, College of Science & Engineering, College of Arts, Society & Education, Indigenous Education & Research Centre, University of New South Wales, University of Adelaide, Monash University, University of Tasmania, Queensland Museum, Scarp Archaeology Pty Ltd, Universite Savoie Mont Blanc, University of Papua New Guinea, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Australian Museum and Flinders University)
Sahul; palaeoenvironments; Climate; archaeology; megafauna

Australian Research Council - Centres of Excellence


Indicative Funding
$450,000 over 4 years (administered by University of Wollongong)
This project has been financially supported by the ARC-COE, Centre for Australian Biodiversity and heritage (CABAH), to measure the impact of a collaborative project between CABAH, IERC/JCU and Tagai State College to improve the educational performance of Indigenous students in the STEM curriculum areas from the early prep years through to Year 12.
Martin Nakata and Danielle Vervenne (Indigenous Education & Research Centre)
Indigenous stem education

Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre Limited - Contract Research

Genomics of lung cancer in Indigenous people of North Queensland

Indicative Funding
$50,000 over 1 year
Cancer genomic profiling is a major determinant of chemotherapy selection for non-small cell lung cancer and is widely used internationally. Indigenous genomes carry ~10X more uncharacterised DNA sequence variation than people of European heritage. THHS is currently trialling the use of whole exome sequencing, instead of the existing 4 gene panel, to base choice of targeted therapies in lung cancer. This creates an opportunity to study whether the cancer-associated variation currently being used to select therapies is adequate, and if not, these data will form the foundation for an NHMRC funding application to identify improved markers.
Alan Baxter, Sabe Sabesan, Martin Nakata, Margaret Jordan, Justin Lee and Letitia Smith in collaboration with Matt Brown and Trevor Prior (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Townsville Hospital and Health Service, Indigenous Education & Research Centre and Queensland University of Technology)
Cancer; Non-small cell lung cancer; Genomics; Whole exome sequencing; Indigenous health care; Closing The Gap

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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.

  • Best practice and cultural appropriateness: Governance of the Torres Strait fisheries into the future (PhD , External Advisor)
  • A Synchronic Study of the Torres Strait Islander Student Achievement levels in Literacy and Numeracy (Masters , Primary Advisor)

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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