UQ student’s coral research benefits from generous endowment funding

13 Jun 2017

Research investigating resilience in Great Barrier Reef corals by a University of Queensland PhD student has been featured in publicity for the next round of Ecological Society of Australia funding.

President of the Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) Professor Don Driscoll today announced a further $1 million in funds from the Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment to support postgraduate students conducting research in ecology, wildlife management, and conservation biology. 

ESA’s media release highlighted, among other students, the research of Brazilian-born Matheus Mello-Athayde of UQ’s School of Biological Sciences.

Mr Mello-Athayde is investigating whether a resilient coral found at the Great Barrier Reef can give hope for marine ecosystems under future global warming and acidification.

“We’re all concerned about the devastating effects that climate change is having on reefs,” he said. 

“I’m looking at a common coral that is resilient and trying to work out what it is that helps it do better than other species in the same areas, in the hope that this insight will help us protect reefs in the future.”

Mr Mello-Athayde said he was grateful for the $15,900 in funding he had received over the three years, which he said was “incredibly helpful” in supporting his field work. 

He is a student at the Coral Reef Ecosystems Laboratory (CRE Lab), supervised byAssociate Professor  Sophie DoveDr Selina Ward and Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

Mr Mello-Athayde finished his Bachelor degree (Honours) in Marine Biology at UNISANTA University in Brazil in 2009, before moving to Australia in 2010 to learn English, so he could apply for a UQ PhD to study coral reefs. 

In 2011, he started as an occupational trainee at the CRE lab supervised by Dr Dove and collaborated with lab members including Dr James Fang and Dr Linda Tonk. 

“This collaboration with lab members resulted in scientific publications in the Global Change Biology journal and provided me with significant experience to apply for my PhD,” he said. 

“In 2014, I successfully started my PhD at the CRE lab at UQ and I was awarded a Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) Full Doctorate Fellowship as part of the Science Without Borders program.”

The Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment has supported more than 850 students including  Mr Mello-Athayde since it was established by renowned ecologist, wildlife biologist and philanthropist Dr Bill Holsworth and his wife Carol in 1989. 

It is managed through a partnership with the Ecological Society of Australia. More information about the Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment is available athttp://www.ecolsoc.org.au/endowment