Sean Connolly is a Program Leader of Dynamics of Coral Reef Ecosystems in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. Sean combines mathematical and statistical modelling with fieldwork and laboratory experiments to study the dynamics of biological turnover at all scales, including ecophysiology, population dynamics, species interactions and biodiversity, and macroevolution.

He received his doctorate in 1999 from Stanford University in California, USA, for research on the ecology of rocky shores. In 1999-2000, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Arizona, USA, where he examined global dynamics of marine biodiversity in the fossil record. In 2000, Sean came to JCU to develop and lead a research and research training program in ecological modelling applied to coral reefs. Sean has >100 publications in leading international journals, including 5 papers in Science or Nature, and he has supervised 38 Postgraduate and Honours students since 2001.

Recent awards include the Fenner Medal of the Australian Academy of Science (2009), which honours outstanding research in the biological sciences by a scientist under 40.

  • Theoretical and statistical modelling in ecology.
  • Biodiversity
  • Coral Reef Ecology
  • Macroecology
  • Population and Community Ecology
  • Physiological Ecology
  • Development and application of innovative approaches to teaching the skills of model formulation and analysis to undergraduates, especially in biology.
  • Statistical modelling in ecology for postgraduate students, with a focus on methods that allow confronting bespoke ecological models with empirical data.
  • 2016 to present - Professor, Personal Chair, James Cook University
  • 2010 to 2016 - Professorial Research Fellow, James Cook University
  • 2008 to 2012 - Australian Professorial Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
  • 2007 to 2009 - Associate Professor, James Cook University
  • 2003 to 2006 - Senior Lecturer, James Cook University
  • 2000 to 2002 - Lecturer, James Cook University
  • 1998 to 2000 - Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Arizona
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2014 - Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (Office of Learning and Teaching, Australia)
  • 2009 - Fenner Medal (Australian Academy of Science)
  • 2006 - Carrick Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (Carrick Institute, Australia)
  • 2005 - Dean's Excellence in Research Award for Early Career Research (James Cook University)
  • 2008 to 2012 - Australian Professorial Fellowship (Australian Research Council)
  • 1998 to 2000 - Postdoctoral Fellowship (Research Training Group in the Analysis of Biological Diversification, University of Arizona)
  • 1994 to 1998 - Pre-doctoral Fellowship (National Science Foundation, USA)

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 124+ research outputs authored by Prof Sean Connolly 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 Integrated Coral Reef Studies

Indicative Funding
$28,000,000 over 7 years
The overarching aim of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrated Coral Reef Studies is to provide the scientific knowledge necessary for sustaining ecosystem goods and services of the world's coral reefs, which support the livelihoods and food security of millions of people in the tropics. The Centre will enhance Australia's global leadership in coral reef science through three ambitious research programs addressing the future of coral reefs and their ability to adapt to change. A key outcome of the research will be providing tangible benefits to all Australians by bui8lding bridges between the natural and social sciences, strengthening capacity, and informing and supporting transformative changes in coral reef governance and management.
Graeme Cumming, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Malcolm McCulloch, Peter Mumby, Sean Connolly, John Pandolfi, Bob Pressey, Andrew Baird, David Bellwood, Joshua Cinner, Sophie Dove, Maja Adamska, Mia Hoogenboom, Geoff Jones, Mike Kingsford, Ryan Lowe, Mark McCormick, David Miller, Philip Munday, Morgan Pratchett, Garry Russ and Tiffany Morrison in collaboration with Janice Lough, David Wachenfeld, Stephen Palumbi, Serge Planes and Philippa Cohen (Research Division, The University of Queensland, University of Western Australia, College of Science & Engineering, Australian National University, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Stanford University, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and WorldFish)
coral reef ecosystems; Climate Change Adaptation; ecological resilience; biodiversity goods and services; social-ecological dynamics

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.

  • Biogeographic Analysis to Guide Better Marine Management: A Case Study of the Great Barrier Reef (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Temporal dynamics driving reef fish biodiversity: Combining community ecology, phylogenetics and species traits (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit Research Data Australia.


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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  • 28.102, Marine & Tropical Biology 2 (Townsville campus)
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