Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS)

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) is Australia’s premiere tropical marine research agency. They play a pivotal role in providing large-scale, long-term and world-class research that helps governments, industry and the wider community to make informed decisions about the management of Australia’s marine estate.

ACEMS works with AIMS to address challenging methodological problems along the entire research pipeline from data collection, dynamic modelling, data analysis and communication of insights.

2019 has been a very active and productive year for impactful collaborations with AIMS, as evidenced by: AIMS more than doubling forecast in-kind contributions; the significant engagement and number of collaborators, PhD supervisions and research projects; the impact and public recognition of the Virtual Reef Diver citizen science platform; and the positive impact realised for the environment, and specifically the Great Barrier Reef. It was also a time of successfully navigated Partner Investigator (PI) changes at AIMS, as we wished Dr Patricia Menendez farewell as she returned to academia and welcomed Dr Juan Ortiz.

Both AIMS and ACEMS strive to conduct frontier research in our respective domains. Combining our expertise in Marine Science and the Mathematical/Statistical Sciences continues to be highly valuable to AIMS and we look forward to continuing to develop applied research insights that utilise cutting edge maths/stats methods to inform the management and understanding of Australia’s tropical marine environments.”

Juan Ortiz, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)

Research Collaborations with AIMS

AIMS and ACEMS continued research into the Reef Restoration and Adaption programme, looking at Reef Cloud and Decision Support for Reef Resilience, and the Virtual Reef Diver citizen science project and platform.

Four AIMS investigators were actively involved with ACEMS researchers in co-supervising PhD students working on the following projects:

  • Ecosystem modelling to evaluate multiple uncertain threats on coral reefs
  • Bayesian Adaptive Sampling
  • Effective Monitoring of Submerged Shoals Off the Coast of Western Australia
  • Model-Based Adaptive Monitoring: Improving the Effectiveness of Reef Monitoring Programs and further PhD co-supervision is proposed.

Virtual Reef Diver: Harnessing the Power of Citizen Science for Impact

The Virtual Reef Diver citizen science platform enables innovative collection and use of data and classification services to support research to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

Above left, ACEMS researchers from the Virtual Reef Diver team (L-R): Bryce Christensen, Associate Professor Erin Peterson, Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen, and Dr Julie Vercelloni. Above right, the project crowd-sources images of the reef taken by citizen science divers.

Highlights for this collaborative project in 2019 include:

  • Australian Museum Eureka Prize – Finalist
    Virtual Reef Diver was recognised for science excellence as a finalist for this award, which celebrates outstanding achievement in raising the profile of science and science engagement.
  • Virtual Reef Diver – the Game
    Virtual Reef Diver – the card game was developed, promoted and distributed in 2019. It is designed to have mass appeal for education, entertainment and promotion of the Virtual Reef Diver Citizen Science Project.

The above pictures are from the ACEMS video about “Virtual Reef Diver - the Game”, and include ACEMS game designer Jack Ford Morgan explaining how to play and showing some of the game cards, including coral to be classified and threats to the reef.

ACEMS’ PhD student research Jacinta Holloway and student and game designer Jack Ford Morgan (above left) at a university orientation stand promoting ACEMS’ ‘Virtual Reef Diver - the game’. Pictures of cards from the game (above right).

  • Significant citizen science activity
    The citizen science data and classification services contributed and harnessed for research have been significant, including at least: 224.4 thousand images, 3.4 million data points, and 488 image uploads.

The above pictures from the Virtual Reef Diver website highlight the impact enabled by this citizen science project.

Our Partner Investigators

Farewell to Outgoing ACEMS Partner Investigator: Dr Patricia Menendez

In July 2019, ACEMS was sorry to say farewell, but thankfully not goodbye, to long term collaborator and Partner Investigator (PI) at AIMS, Dr Patricia Menendez. We thank her for her significant contributions to this successful industry partnership. We also wish her all the best in her new role, as she returns to academia as Lecturer at the Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics at Monash University’s Business School, where her rich experience and talents will be well applied. Patricia also plans to do more exploring “where maths and stats can take you”, and will be sharing her adventures on her website.

ACEMS’ Outgoing AIMS PI Joins Academia After Successful Collaboration

Trained mathematician and statistician Dr Patricia Menendez is a successful boundary-spanning researcher, who’s worked in and across academia and industry on a range of multi-disciplinary projects. Her passion as a researcher is aimed at answering research and policy-making questions in various collaborative domains, including to solve real life environmental problems via the application and development of statistical methodology and computational methods.

Dr Patricia Menendez

Welcome to Incoming ACEMS Partner Investigator: Dr Juan Ortiz

ACEMS is delighted to welcome Dr Juan Ortiz as the incoming PI for AIMS. Juan took over the position in July this year, and has already been highly engaged and keen to build on the momentum of this strong collaboration. Since commencing in July 2019, Juan has: given a guest lecture at ACEMS’ QUT node; accepted a position on the ACEMS Scientific Advisory Committee; attended and presented at the ACEMS Retreat; taken on the supervision of two ACEMS students; and facilitated a co-funded postdoctoral position between AIMS and ACEMS/QUT which will start in January 2020.

ACEMS’ Incoming AIMS PI Focused on Translating Research to Help Manage the Great Barrier Reef

Juan Ortiz is an ecologist and ecosystem modeller who has specialised in the interface between coral physiology, coral symbiosis, population community and ecosystem ecology. He is particularly interested in the effect of anthropogenic disturbances on marine ecosystems and is motivated by the pressing need for applied, ecologically sound, scientific research that provides the necessary information to understand and design strategies to preserve tropical marine ecosystem functioning. Over the past five years, Juan has built strong ties with the organisations in charge of the management of the Great Barrier Reef. These ties have helped him to translate the most recent ecological findings on Great Barrier Reef functioning into management actions.

Dr Juan Ortiz

Back to Partner Organisations