PRESS RELEASE\r\n\r\nEight of Australia’s universities have joined together to develop a novel approach to PhD training in tropical research.\r\n\r\nThey have established the Graduate Network in Tropical Research, which will offer a collaborative PhD program that incorporates coursework, shared infrastructure and an annual workshop/conference for students.\r\n\r\nIt will draw on supervisory expertise and infrastructure from across the partner universities to create an environment for the training of a new generation of researchers better informed about the unique challenges facing the world’s tropics.\r\n\r\nThe eight universities are Charles Darwin University, Curtin University, Flinders University, Griffith University, Murdoch University, Queensland University of Technology, University of Western Australia and James Cook University.\r\n\r\nThe Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor of JCU, Professor Chris Cocklin, said that cooperation across Australia’s universities was increasingly seen as a way of pooling capacity to address major research challenges and tropical research was one area where there was a compelling case for greater collaboration.\r\n\r\n“By establishing the Graduate Network we will consolidate Australia’s capabilities, which is critical to ensuring that Australia continues to take a leading role in tropical research, particularly in a period when the world’s economic point of gravity is shifting towards Asia and the tropics,” he said.\r\n\r\nAustralia is unique amongst developed countries in having a significant footprint in the tropics. With more than 45% of its landmass in the tropics, Australia has developed significant expertise in research of relevance to the unique challenges facing the world’s tropics in areas such as tropical health, sustainable communities and livelihoods, and tropical biology and conservation.\r\n\r\nProfessor Robyn Owens, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Western Australia, said “We are widely recognised as one of the world’s leaders in tropical research, which is of growing importance globally given the increasing threats facing the tropics – such as environmental degradation – and the increasing role played by tropical economies, including India, the southern provinces of China and Brazil, in driving the world economy,”\r\n\r\nThe GDP of tropical countries is projected to reach US$40 trillion by 2025. Despite growth in many parts of the tropics, many tropical countries continue to struggle with abject poverty and disease and remain the epicentre for much of the world’s aid efforts.\r\n\r\nThe first cohort of students in the program are beginning their studies this year.\r\n\r\nContact: Professor Chris Cocklin, 07 4781 6884,\r\n\r\nJCU Media: Jim O’Brien 07 4781 4822 or 0418 892449