I am a research fellow studying coral holobiont response to early thermal stress events, coral host-microbe interactions and coral symbioses in diverse environments.  My research aims to investigate the response of marine organims to changes in the marine environemnt and to determine how host-microbe-environment interactions influence  physiology, adaptation and acclimation. My Science magazine author profile has links to my recent research in these fields. 

I have been a research fellow (APD 2008- 2011, Super Science 2011 – 2014) in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reefs Studies since 2008. Prior my postdoctoral research, I received a PhD at the University of Queensland (Links between stress and disease in coral, receiving the Deans Award for Outstanding Postgraduate research), a Master of Science (Immunological markers in cultured penaeids) and a Bachelor of Science (Aquaculture and Marine Biology), from James Cook Univesity. 

  • BC3202: Special Topics in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Level 3; TSV)
  • BC5202: Advanced Laboratory Practice in Molecular and Cell Biology (Level 5; TSV)
  • Host-microbe-environment interactions.
  • Coral responses to environmental change
  • Impact of near future climate change to marine organisms
  • 2015 to present - Editorial Board Member, PeerJ
  • 2015 to present - Senior Research Fellow, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2013 to present - Editor Board Member, Nature Scientific Reports
  • 2011 to 2015 - ARC Super Science Fellow, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2012 - Visiting Research Fellow, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (Hawai'i)
  • 2008 to 2011 - ARC Australian Post Doctoral (APD) Fellow, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2007 - Visiting Faculty Member, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biolgy Pauley Summer Program (Hawai'i)
  • 2004 to 2007 - PhD Candidate, University of Queensland (Brisbane)
  • 2005 - Visiting Researcher, Tel Aviv University and The University of Haifa (Israel)
  • 2016 - Queensland Catch a Rising Star National Science Week
  • 2011 - L’Oreal Women in Science Fellowship
  • 2010 - Australian Academy of Science Australian Research Council Early Career Researcher Award
  • 2010 - Australian Academy of Science International Science Linkages Travel Award
  • 2008 - Australian Academy of Science Australian Research Council Early Career Researcher Award
  • 2011 - John and Laurine Proud 2011 Fellowship at Lizard Island
  • 2010 - Journal of Experimental Biologist Travelling Fellowship
  • 2011 to 2015 - ARC SuperScience Fellowship
  • 2012 to 2013 - Queensland Smart State, Queensland International Fellowship to the USA
  • 2008 to 2011 - ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2011 - Ian Potter Foundation Science Grant
  • 2010 - Organising committee UK-Australia Frontiers in Marine Science Symposia.

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
Book Chapters

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 44+ research outputs authored by Dr Tracy Ainsworth from 2000 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Developing a mechanistic basis for coral reef conservation

Indicative Funding
$383,136 over 3 years
The health and reef-building capacity of coral reefs worldwide is challenged by a range of anthropogenic impacts, including global warming, sedimentation, eutrophication and ocean acidification. If coral reef ecosystems are to overcome these environmental challenges and persist into the future, corals must acclimate and/or adapt. This project will provide an evidence base for coral reef conservation to be targeted towards conserving regions that are found to be at greatest risk, and those that have the greatest capacity for resilience, to the projected near future climate change.
Tracy Ainsworth, Bill Leggat, Andrew Baird and Scott Heron (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and PortMap Remote Ocean Sensing Pty Ltd)
Coral; Coral Reefs; Climate Change

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Research Grant

Resilient reefs successfully adapting to climate change program

Indicative Funding
$225,000 over 2 years
Environmental metabolomics is opening new avenues for monitoring ecosystem health. Eco-metabolomics measures the impact to organisms from natural and anthropogenic stressors by directly measuring changes in metabolism. Use of metabolomics provides managers with rapid, reliable and accurate impact assessments of stress exposure on species. As metabolomics is able to quantify and identify specific and synergistic effects of acute and cumulative stressors, thresholds for management responses can be tailored to specific exposures. Linking metabolic responses to satellite monitoring and incorporating into a geographic information system, will provide a novel integrated monitoring tool for managers at multiple spatial and temporal scales.
Bill Leggat and Tracy Ainsworth in collaboration with Scott Heron and U Roessner (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and The University of Melbourne)
Biomonitoring; Metabolomics; Coral

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.

  • Deciphering the bacterial microworld in corals: structure, variability and persistence (PhD , Primary Advisor)

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


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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