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BHERT Member: James Cook University

James Cook University (JCU) is committed to creating a brighter future for life in the tropics worldwide through graduates and discoveries that make a difference. JCU ranked in the Top 30 of Modern Universities in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 50 under 50 for 2018. As a leader in igniting and supporting a passion for learning, JCU has a strong focus on research and teaching that makes a difference to people and societies, the natural world and the built environment.

JCU is a comprehensive university, providing a world-class education to more than 21,000 students. With locations in Townsville, Cairns, Singapore, Brisbane, Mackay, Mount Isa and Thursday Island, JCU is an integral part of the North Queensland community and a major contributor to its economy. Hands-on experiential learning provides opportunities for students to develop practical skills and gain in-depth knowledge. This solid foundation gives students a platform to excel when they enter the workforce. JCU graduates ranked number one in Australia for Employer Satisfaction in the QILT 2017 Employer Satisfaction Survey National Report.

JCU has some outstanding collaborative partnerships:

  • Public safety and insurance costs: JCU’s Cyclone Testing Station (CTS) has worked on building standards, codes and practices for over 40 years to increase the safety and resilience of buildings and infrastructure. The CTS has partnered with the Queensland Government and leading Australian insurers, including Suncorp, to better understand the damage and associated costs – and how to reduce these costs through increasing building reliability. With project partner Suncorp, CTS’s goal is to better understand the drivers of claims and what can be done to address these. Data from Cyclone Yasi in 2011 found that 86 per cent of insurance claims were minor. Many of these claims could have been prevented by more effective building upgrades, maintenance, and preparedness. By evaluating the common weaknesses in buildings, along with external elements which cause building damage, this collaboration investigated options to lower household risk.
  • New agricultural crops: JCU Professor Joe Holtum’s work in the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Studies is creating new crop opportunities for Queensland. A plant ecophysiologist, Professor Holtum studies how CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism) is used by water-efficient plants in the process of photosynthesis to survive some of the driest conditions found in Australia. In addition to orchids, ant plants and succulents, he studies growing agave as a biofuel feedstock crop in the seasonally dry tropical areas of Australia. In collaboration with AusAgave, an Australian-owned plant biotechnology company, he is studying an agave crop for production of ethanol, and to better predict how Australian plants may respond to decreased availability of water. AusAgave CEO, Don Chambers said there were many positives to using agave. “We’re looking to develop a sustainable crop that can be grown in an area that's normally unproductive, and is a lower cost. That's the benefit of using the agave,” he said. AusAgave received a $100,000 grant from BioSA in 2014 to develop plans for a mechanical harvester.
  • Environment and climate change: JCU Distinguished Professor Terry Hughes is Director of the University’s Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and received an international Climate Change Award in 2018. Professor Hughes’ leadership at the ARC Centre has been invaluable for coordinating government, community and local industry responses to coral bleaching events in the Great Barrier Reef.

Discover more at James Cook University.

Photo from the JCU Cyclone Testing Station, credit:

James Cook University

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