Dr. Joanne Ellis

Research Scientist


Research Interests

Joanne is from New Zealand but spent part of her childhood living in Africa and Malaysia.  As a teenager Joanne learnt to dive in Papua New Guinea and so began her love of marine benthic ecosystems. Joanne completed a Bachelor of Science degree from Auckland University and an Honors degree from Victoria University New Zealand. She then completed her PhD at the Ocean Sciences Centre, Memorial University, Canada. Following her studies Joanne worked for the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and Cawthron Institute New Zealand.  She joined KAUST University in 2016 and the Reef Ecology Lab in 2018.

 Joanne’s primary research interest focuses on the recovery of marine benthic communities from disturbance and potential interaction effects of multiple stressors. She has approached these specific research areas using a combination of models and field studies to predict community resilience to disturbance and multiple stressors. This scientific knowledge is critical for ecosystem based management approaches in order to identify environmental limits or tipping points within which we must sustainably manage resources. Her research interests also include the development of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) which represents a more coordinated and sustainable approach to how our marine resources are used, ensuring that marine goods and services and utilized, but within clear environmental limits. Specifically her research has assessed how ecosystem services frameworks can be applied to evaluate trade-offs for MSP purposes. This has included the development of biophysical quantification of ecosystem services, complex systems approaches to valuation, mapping and spatial prediction of ecosystem services and the development of ecological (rather than economic) perspectives.  Joanne has published over 50 peer-reviewed papers and an additional 40 publications including technical reports, popular articles and conference proceedings.