Deal opens Galapagos Islands to James Cook University

James Cook University staff and students will have the opportunity to study in the crucible of evolutionary theory, the Galapagos Islands, under a new agreement.

Deal opens Galapagos Islands to James Cook University
Signing the agreement in Quito. Left to right: Professor Diego Quioroga, Vice-President of Research and External Affairs, Universidad San Francisco de Quito; Professor Terry Magnuson, VC for Research, University of North Carolina; Professor Iain Gordon, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Tropical Environments and Societies, JCU (Photo credit: JCU)

The agreement allows JCU staff and students access to the Galapagos Science Centre: a world-class research and teaching facility on the Galapagos Island of San Cristobal, which is globally recognised as a pristine, unique ecosystem.

JCU’s Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Division of Tropical Environments and Societies, Professor Iain Gordon, signed the Galapagos Marine Science Consortium Agreement at a ceremony in Quito, Ecuador last month.

Professor Gordon said the intent is for JCU to collaborate with partner universities in areas of research and teaching with a focus on the Galapagos Islands.

“The Galapagos Islands are iconic for their part in shaping Darwin’s ideas on evolution. As with the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics, the Galapagos Islands are recognised by the United Nations as a World Heritage Area. Today, however, they are under unprecedented pressure from development and tourism.

“This partnership, with two world-class universities, will allow our researchers and students to study the human and environmental issues associated with conservation and sustainable development on the islands.

“We will also help build the capacity of Ecuador’s researchers and provide advice to the Ecuadorian Government as to how to manage this unique archipelago,” said Professor Gordon.

He said that, in the first instance, there is also great scope for JCU intensive courses to be run on San Cristobal and adjacent islands in the Galapagos group.

The arrangement will run for the next two years.

James Cook University’s major partners in the Galapagos Marine Science Consortium are the University of San Francisco Quito (Ecuador) and the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). Minor partners are the University of the Sunshine Coast and University of Brunei daar Salam.
The partner universities will collaborate based on their specialities; i.e., UNC has advanced genomic facilities and USFQ has local knowledge of the biodiversity and logistics. Each year there will be collaborative cruises among the islands for researchers and students from the different universities.

JCU College of Marine and Environmental Sciences

As part of the Division of Tropical Environments and Societies, the College of Marine and Environmental Sciences promotes, fosters, supports and administers quality teaching and research at JCU in the areas of marine biology, environment, geography and sustainability, aquaculture and fisheries, and terrestrial ecosystems.

Marine science is the interdisciplinary study of the marine environment bringing together elements of marine biology, oceanography, marine geoscience and environmental management. Marine scientists explore the make-up and dynamics of the world’s oceans and use their skills to investigate and manage human impacts on the marine environment; understand and utilise ocean resources; and manage and protect our marine reserves.

JCU’s location in the tropics allows students and research staff ready access to a wide variety of tropical marine systems including coral reefs, tropical estuaries, mangrove habitats and seagrass beds. Links between research and teaching programs ensure that students are at the cutting edge of marine research.

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