Research Officer, Division of Tropical Environments and Societies

Townsville, Australia
$65,955 - $88,131
24 May 2019
End of advertisement period
23 Jun 2019
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Position Overview

The Research Officer contributes towards research for an externally funded project (Recovery of the Great Barrier Reef – Earthwatch Australia) on coral reef recovery, coral reef restoration, marine invertebrate microbiology, marine ecology and reef genomics. The incumbent assists in undertaking fieldwork, collecting samples, collating data, analysing data, writing manuscripts and developing reports and outputs that address key questions related to the funded project. 

The Research Officer assists in training and supervising the activities of students working in the molecular biology laboratories at James Cook University (JCU).

Organisational Charts

James Cook University

Division of Tropical Environments and Societies

College of Science and Engineering

Principal Accountabilities

  1. Conduct independent original research and contribute to the research undertaken by HDR students
  2. Coordinate and undertake fieldwork, including logistics for field trips & diving activities, including student field excursions, for collection of samples and ensuring legislative and university compliance.
  3. Design work tasks in line with project goals and work alongside citizen science participants in field-based activities.
  4. Prepare DNA and RNA extractions from marine samples including corals, marine microbial communities, and complex environmental samples for submission into next generation sequencing platforms.
  5. Undertake a wide variety of data analyses (e.g. genomic, ecological, biochemical data) and synthesis of data into manuscripts, reports and outputs consistent with project milestones within allocated timeframes.
  6. Design and perform field ecology work, biological experiments and routine laboratory analyses, keeping accurate lab books, records of sample preparation and storage, and maintain genetic based data in databases so that information is available as required.
  7. Prepare and undertake statistical analysis and graphing of data to describe biological patterns and trends over time, for manuscripts for publication, including production of scientific illustrations.
  8. Provide advice and training to staff, students and visitors in field and laboratory procedures and the use of equipment to ensure set procedures are followed.
  9. Support the University's commitment to the principles of reconciliation, which exemplify respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and the valuing of justice and equity for all Australians.
  10. Demonstrate a commitment to the University values.
  11. Support the principles of the TropEco program and engage in commitment to JCU sustainability goals and objectives.

Generic Accountabilities 

There are generic responsibilities that apply to all James Cook University staff. 

  1. The Research Officer is required to observe the lawful and reasonable directions, policies and decisions of the University Council, understand and comply with the Enterprise Agreement, the Statutes and Rules of the University, the policies and decisions of the University Council and other appropriate University authorities, as in force from time to time.
  2. The Research Officer is required to demonstrate a personal commitment to ensure personal safety and the safety of others and contribute to the continuous improvement of our WHS performance.  This includes the effective implementation and compliance with James Cook University WHS policies, procedures and safe systems of work, together with all relevant legislation, duties and obligations.  Contribute to the continuous improvement of our WHS performance.
  3. The Research Officer is required to exercise proper discretion in all matters affecting the well-being of the University which involve public writing or speaking in accordance with the University’s Code of Conduct. 

Special Conditions

  • It is a requirement of this position to occasionally work outside of normal hours.
  • It is a requirement of this position to travel and to hold and maintain a current ‘C’ class drivers licence (Queensland).
  • It is a requirement of this position to hold a current Rescue Diver certification.
  • It is a requirement of this position to hold a current Recreational Marine Driver Licence and VHF radio operator license

Selection Criteria

Selection and appointments will be assessed against selection criteria.


  1. Degree qualification in science with demonstrable commitment to high-quality research outcomes and focused experience with research into coral biology, genomics, and coral reef restoration.
  2. Highly developed communication skills as evidenced by publication of research in scholarly journals and presentation of research at seminars and/or conferences.
  3. Demonstrated experience in the planning and execution of field trips to various locations, with highly developed written and oral communication skills to liaise with various stakeholders for different purposes.
  4. Molecular biology skills including field collection procedures, laboratory protocols, protocol optimization, calibration and use of lab equipment, and data analysis from a wide range of sample types.
  5. Strong computer and programming skills across various platforms (Mac + Windows, R, Bash, Python) with demonstrated experience in bioinformatics, preferably with a background in microbial-based pipelines.
  6. Previous work or research experience in a citizen science project and communicating science-based activities to members of the public.


  1. Experience conducting tutorials, practical classes, and/or consultation with research students. 
  2. Prior experience using graphics software to create scientific figures and conceptual illustrations for publication.