The tropics is a diverse and developing area straddling the equator, and covering 40 per cent of the Earth's surface. According to the State of the Tropics 2020 report, coordinated by James Cook University, nearly half of the world’s population will live in the tropics by 2050. Challenges faced continue around the condition of built and natural environments, eradicating diseases, and access to quality health care and food – challenges that Queensland’s tropical research sector is helping to address both at home and globally.
Watch our Queensland Science making a difference in the Tropics video to hear about the challenges we’re tackling and why Queensland is one of the best places for tropical research.
Queensland Science is making a difference for the Tropics, addressing some of the most pressing challenges faced in a zone which is home to nearly 40 per cent of the...
Queensland Science is making a difference for the Tropics, addressing some of the most pressing challenges faced in a zone which is home to nearly 40 per cent of the world’s population, growing economies, and outstanding natural areas.
The Tropics in Queensland
Approximately 50 per cent of Queensland’s landmass is in the tropical zone, covering diverse landscapes of wet and dry tropics, coastal, marine, urban and industrial environments. Science for the tropics, not surprisingly, is one of Queensland key strengths, encompassing health and medicine, environment, food, agriculture and bio-commodities.
Tropical North Queensland boasts incredible natural biodiversity and World Heritage sites that include the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics of Queensland. The Great Barrier Reef—the world’s largest and most complex reef system—is one of Queensland’s and the world’s most treasured natural wonders.
The region also supports a significant agricultural sector and a growing aquaculture industry.
The Queensland Government is committed to understanding and addressing the ongoing impacts to the reef from climate change, ocean acidification, coastal development and water quality.
The Australian Government’s Office of Northern Australia is coordinating the implementation of Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia and established the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility in Cairns to encourage and complement private sector investment in infrastructure that benefits Northern Australia.
The Australian Government has established the Cooperative Research Centre on Developing Northern Australia in Townsville, Queensland that will direct at least $150 million into commercialising research in tropical health, food and agriculture. Cairns, Townsville and Rockhampton are also home to Regional Manufacturing Hubs encouraging links between industries and universities, and providing opportunities for advanced manufacturing and bringing ideas to reality.
Leading tropical research
Queensland has nine universities including three of Australia’s largest, all of which undertake research for the tropics and with our regional neighbours and beyond.
For example research at the Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy is focused on global solutions for food security including the effects of changing climatic conditions on agricultural productivity. The Laboratory of Vaccines for the Developing World, part of Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics, has developed a broad-spectrum malaria vaccine, PlasProtecT™, currently in full human clinical trials.
Details of 200 plus research centres in Queensland are available by searching the Queensland science capability directory.
Tropics-based research centres
A number of Queensland’s internationally respected research institutions have based themselves in the tropics. The ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies, based in Townsville, includes the University of Queensland in collaboration with James Cook University (JCU) and other partners to undertake world-best integrated research for sustainable use and management of coral reefs. The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) is home to the unique National Sea Simulator marine research aquarium facility for tropical marine organisms in which scientists can conduct cutting-edge research.
JCU is the primary university, with campuses in Cairns, Townsville and Singapore. The Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, one of its leading institutes, is focused on solutions to global and local health threats including two of the biggest killers—TB and malaria; and how to provide access to quality healthcare to regional and remote communities. The Australian Tropical Herbarium not only houses a reference collection, but undertakes research contributing to discovery, documentation and understanding of the flora of tropical Australia and neighbouring regions.
Queensland’s institutes, facilities, precincts, laboratories and other research organisations with connections to the Tropics include :
- Agriculture and Food Business Unit (AF)
- Anton Breinl Research Centre for Health Systems Strengthening (ABRC)
- Australian Centre for Pacific Islands Research
- Australian Defence Force Malaria and Infectious Disease Institute (ADFMIDI)
- Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre (AID)
- Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
- Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine - Cairns (AITHM)
- Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine - Townsville (AITHM)
- Australian Rivers Institute (ARI)
- Australian Tropical Herbarium (ATH)
- Australian Tropical Science and Innovation Precinct (ATSIP)
- Ayr Research Facility
- Banyo Pilot Plant
- Bowen Research Facility
- Cairns Hospital
- Central Queensland University - Bundaberg (CQUniversity)
- Central Queensland University - Cairns (CQUniversity)
- Central Queensland University - Gladstone (CQUniversity)
- Central Queensland University - Mackay (CQUniversity)
- Central Queensland University - Rockhampton (CQUniversity)
- Central Queensland University - Townsville (CQUniversity)
- Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy (CABEN)
- Centre for Animal Science (CAS)
- Centre for Crop Science (QAAFI CPS)
- Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoralCoE)
- Centre for Horticultural Science (CHS)
- Centre for Integrative Legume Research (CILR)
- Centre for Macroalgal Resources and Biotechnology (MACRO)
- Centre for Marine Microbiology and Genetics Research (CMMG)
- Centre for Molecular Therapeutics (CMT)
- Centre for Nutrition and Food Science (CNAFS)
- Centre for Online Health (COH)
- Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems (CSAS)
- Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture (CSTFA)
- Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science (TESS)
- Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research - Cairns (TropWATER)
- Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research - Townsville (TropWATER)
- Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC)
- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
- Cyclone Testing Station (CTS)
- Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF)
- Ecology Centre
- Ecosciences Precinct (ESP)
- Forest Industries Research Centre
- Global Change Institute (GCI)
- Griffith Centre for Coastal Management (GCCM)
- Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery (GRIDD)
- Griffith University - Gold Coast (GU)
- Griffith University - Nathan (GU)
- Health and Food Sciences Precinct
- Institute for Future Environments (IFE)
- Institute for Future Farming Systems - Bundaberg (IFFS)
- Institute for Future Farming Systems - Rockhampton (IFFS)
- Institute for Resilient Regions (IRR)
- James Cook University - Cairns (JCU)
- James Cook University - Mackay Education Research Centre (JCU)
- James Cook University - Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health (JCU)
- James Cook University - Thursday Island (JCU)
- James Cook University - Townsville (JCU)
- Land and Water Business Unit
- Language and Culture Research Centre (LCRC)
- Life Sciences Queensland Ltd (LSQ)
- Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant (MRBPP)
- Mareeba Research Facility
- The Museum of Tropical Queensland
- Northern Fisheries Centre (NFC)
- Protein Expression Facility (PEF)
- QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute (QIMR)
- Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI)
- Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation - CQU (QCIF)
- Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation - GU (QCIF)
- Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation - JCU (QCIF)
- Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation - QUT (QCIF)
- Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation - UQ (QCIF)
- Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation - USQ (QCIF)
- Queensland Museum
- Queensland University of Technology - Gardens Point (QUT)
- Queensland University of Technology - Kelvin Grove (QUT)
- Redden St Research Facility
- Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC)
- Research Computing Centre (RCC)
- Research Hub for Advanced Prawn Breeding
- South Johnstone Research Facility
- Spyglass Beef Research Facility
- Sugar Research Australia Limited (SRA)
- Sugar Research Institute (SRI)
- Sustainability Research Centre (SRC)
- Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN)
- The Cairns Institute (TCI)
- The Chemistry Centre
- Tropical Forests and People Research Centre
- Tropical Weeds Research Centre
- The University of Queensland - Gatton (UQ)
- The University of Queensland - Herston (UQ)
- The University of Queensland - St Lucia (UQ)
- School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences (SCMB)
- Walkamin Research Facility