Lizard Island Research Grants support important research within several themes. They are enabled through funding provided by donors to the Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation.

The program has operated since 2012 and 28 grants have been awarded to date. Unlike the fellowships programs, grants are not limited to a particular research demographic - applicants may be at any level within the research community.


Critical research grants - 2022 offer open

Critical research grants support important and usually time-sensitive coral reef research projects. This theme has developed in response to severe, repeated impacts on coral reefs around the world, including at Lizard Island. The initial 2020 grants were funded by the Charles Warman Foundation and by the LIRRF generally. Ian and Min Darling are specific donors to the 2022 grant.

Critical research grants are offered irregularly depending on the funding available. A grant will only be awarded in any particular round if a proposal is considered sufficiently compelling and feasible. The assessment is made by a panel of Australian Museum scientists that includes members of the LIRRF Science Committee.

Brief expressions of interest are sought to begin the process for 2022. Applicants whose expressions of interest are selected for further consideration will be invited to submit a detailed research proposal.

Until COVID-related travel restrictions ease to a workable level, expressions of interest will only be accepted from researchers who are based in Australia.


Provide a 2-page document that outlines your broad plan, its context and significance, and why you are well-placed to conduct the work.

  • The proposed research must increase knowledge of coral reefs in a way that can inform management in a practical way AND it is valuable to do it now, considering the existential threats facing coral reefs.
  • Reef restoration and adaptation are not priority areas because substantial funding is available for such projects elsewhere.
  • Proposals for research involving plastic pollution should apply under that grant scheme.
  • All or most of the funded field research must be conducted at Lizard Island Research Station.
  • Funding is for field work and laboratory expenses only, not salary.
  • Funding over several years may be awarded.
  • The applicant must have institutional support that is expected to continue for the duration of the grant.
  • Collaborations between researchers and between institutions are welcome. The applicant must be the principal investigator and his/her institution must be willing to administer the grant without charging an administration fee. Any additional investigators must bring complementary expertise to the project as documented in their CVs. A maximum of three investigators in total will be named in any public listing of the grant.
  • A budget is not required at this stage. However, note that the funds available are in the order of tens of thousands of dollars per year, not hundreds of thousands. A budget will be required in full applications.
  • Confirm that all intended field-work participants are based in Australia.
  • Submit to lizard@australian.museum by 28 November 2021. (Note: The closing date was originally 12 November 2021. It has been extended due to a delay advertising the grant.)

Closing date for expressions of interest is 28 November 2021. This has been extended from the original 12 November 2021 closing date.

Invitations to submit full application will be made by 17 December 2021.

Full applications due by 28 January 2021.

Result known by 25 February 2022.

Funding available by 1 April 2022.



Plastic pollution grants - 2022 offer open

These grants provide for field-intensive research into the extent and effects of plastic pollution on coral reefs, conducted at Lizard Island Research Station. This research theme is supported by the Rossi Foundation and the Banyer family. Three grants have been awarded to date and another is offered for 2022.

Two peer-reviewed scientific publications have been produced through this grant program to mid-2021.

Until COVID-related travel restrictions ease to a workable level, applications will only be accepted from researchers who are based in Australia.


The maximum value of the grant is $15,000 plus GST per year for either one or two years as required.

The grant must be must be spent on field work at LIRS including bench fees, travel, freight, and field/lab consumables.

The grant may not be used for salary, for living expenses (such as food while at Lizard Island) or for equipment other than research consumables. An administration fee may not be deducted from the grant by the administering institution.


  1. Field work must take place between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023 for the first year, and in the same period of the subsequent year if a second year is awarded. However, a blackout period applies in November and December unless there are compelling biological reasons for doing the work in those months (e.g. coral spawning, fish recruitment).
  2. Funding in the second year, if awarded, is subject to suitable progress.
  3. The applicant must have institutional support that is expected to continue for the duration of the grant.
  4. Collaborations between researchers and between institutions are welcome. The applicant must be the principal investigator and his/her institution must be willing to administer the grant without charging an administration fee. Any additional investigators must bring complementary expertise to the project as documented in their CVs. A maximum of three investigators in total will be named in any public listing of the grant.
  5. Reporting, outreach, acknowledgement and other conditions will be detailed in a contract with the successful applicant.

  1. Applicants must be affiliated with an academic institution that will administer the grant.
  2. Applicants must be based in Australia at the time of applying and have the right to remain in the country for the duration of the fellowship.

Applicants who do not meet the eligibility criteria will not be considered further.


The person:

  1. Meets the eligibility criteria.
  2. Has an excellent academic record.
  3. Has high research output in relation to career stage.
  4. Has relevant research and fieldwork experience.

The project:

  1. Will significantly advance knowledge of the extent and/or effect of plastic pollution on coral reefs.
  2. Makes good use of LIRS facilities.
  3. Is feasible within the limitations of budget and safety regulations.
  4. Makes efficient usage of grant funds.
  5. Has additional funding available if the grant does not cover all planned costs.
  6. Enables scientific leverage.

Applications must be submitted online.

Online application form for 2022 Plastic pollution research grant

Two MS Word documents must be uploaded to the online application form.

  1. 2022 Project Application Form, and
  2. Curriculum vitae of the applicant (maximum 4 pages, 12 point font, 3 cm margins).

If any co-investigators are listed, each must submit a CV with the same restrictions as for the applicant by email to lizard@australian.museum.

Applications will be assessed against the selection criteria.

To assist in preparing your application, please consult other sections of this website to learn about LIRS facilities and the number of assistants you will need to bring to comply with the Station's scuba diving and boating regulations. You are welcome to contact LIRS with any queries.

Use the indicative costs for bench fees and travel between Cairns and Lizard Island as provided in the project application form.

Closing date is 28 November 2021.

(This has been extended from original 12 November 2021 closing date)



Crown-of-Thorns Starfish research grants

These grants are aimed at finding practical methods to reduce the impact of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (COTS) on their coral prey. They are supported by an Ian Potter Foundation 50th Anniversary Commemorative Grant. This program has operated since 2015 and 20 grants were awarded up to the final one in 2020. Research funded under this program continues into 2022.

This grant program has produced twenty-six peer-reviewed publications to mid-2021.

Proposals for additional research in this important area will be considered under the critical research grants theme.


Sustainable fishing research grants

These grants investigated methods that could be used to enhance survivorship of fish released by fishers. They were supported by the Teakle Foundation. One grant was awarded in each of 2012 and 2013 and each produced a peer-reviewed publication.


Honour roll

Lizard Island Grants
Year Name University Grant
2021 No grants awarded due to COVID-19 pandemic
2020 Joseph DiBattista Australian Museum Critical
2020 Daniela Ceccarelli Independent Critical
2020 Maria Dornelas and Joshua Madin University of St Andrews, UK, and University of Hawaii, USA Critical
2020 Frederieke Kroon and Mark Meekan Australian Institute of Marine Science Plastic pollution
2020 Morgan Pratchett, Jason Doyle and others ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University and Australian Institute of Marine Science Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2019 Dione Deaker and Prof Maria Byrne University of Sydney Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2019 Jason Doyle Australian Institute of Marine Science Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2019 Dr Vanessa Messmer ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University Crown-of-Thorns Starifsh
2019 Prof Morgan Pratchett and Dr Andrew Hoey ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2019 Jennifer Wilmes ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2018 Dr Bridie Allan Institute of Marine Science, Norway Plastic pollution
2018 Marina Santana James Cook University Plastic pollution
2018 Dr Fredereike Kroon Australian Institute of Marine Science Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2018 Prof Maria Byrne and Assoc Prof Jonathan Allen University of Sydney and College of William and Mary, USA Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2018 Prof Maria Byrne and Dr Karen Chan University of Sydney and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2017 Dr Sven Uthicke Australian Institute of Marine Science Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2017 Prof Morgan Pratchett ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University Crown-of-Thorns Starifsh
2017 Ciemon Caballes ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2016 Prof Morgan Pratchett ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2016 Prof Morgan Pratchett and Dr Vanessa Messmer ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2016 Dr Sven Uthicke Australian Institute of Marine Science Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2015 Lisa Bostrom-Einarsson James Cook University Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2015 Prof Morgan Pratchett and Ciemon Caballes ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2015 Dr Vanessa Messmer and Prof Morgan Pratchett ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2015 Prof Maria Byrne and others University of Sydney Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2015 Zara-Louise Cowan ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University Crown-of-Thorns Starfish
2013 Dr Timothy Clark and others Australian Institute of Marine Science Sustainable Fishing
2012 Dr Timothy Clark and others Australian Institute of Marine Science Sustainable Fishing