A defining feature of James Cook University (JCU) is its tropical location and its research excellence in disciplines of particular relevance to the tropics. As a comprehensive university in the tropics, JCU is well placed to foster cross-disciplinary collaborations to meet these challenges.

JCU is committed to providing shape and direction to our research by alignment with four major themes:

  • Tropical ecosystems, conservation and climate change
  • Industries and economies in the tropics
  • People and societies in the tropics, and
  • Tropical health, medicine and biosecurity

We’re committed to research of excellence and high impact, particularly on issues of critical importance to the world’s tropics. As a regionally-based university, we recognise our obligation to engage with industry and government, commercialise our research findings and achieve critical mass through productive research partnerships with other research organisations. JCU is a site and catalyst for innovation and understanding.

We build on current areas of world-class excellence to achieve a strong performance in scholarship and teaching inspired by a research-enriched environment. We recognise that the University is judged not only on its quality but equally on its relevance and impact beyond academia.
Tropical issues provide the focus to the University’s research mission, driven by our unique geographical location, particularly its close proximity to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics rainforests and its links with rural, remote and indigenous communities and industries.

Key Research Areas

  • Tropical ecosystems, conservation and climate change
  • Industries and economies in the tropics
  • People and societies in the tropics
  • Tropical health, medicine and biosecurity

Research Achievements

Overall 83% of JCU’s research fields (38 of the 46 research fields evaluated) were rated world-class or above, the highest rating the University has received, up from 78% in 2015, the last time the ERA ratings were evaluated. A list of research leaders you can find here.



  • More funding information and application deadline available here.
  • Prospective students can apply for scholarships for research study, or competitive grants as a professional researcher. More information


Click here to read some real stories of JCU PhD Students.

Or watch Jarrod Guppy talking about his PhD in Townsville.

Research Projects

JCU Projects