Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services










Dr Lisa-ann Gershwin - Curriculum Vitae





Dr. Lisa-ann Gershwin

3/127 George Street, Launceston, Tasmania 7250
Mobile: 0408 080829
Web Page:

Citizenship: Dual Australia and USA

I have a strong interest in marine invertebrate taxonomy and pest dynamics, with expertise on seven classes in two phyla of jellyfish. In my last 18.5 years of research, I have discovered over 160 new species (about 70 published, with the rest in various stages of preparation), published almost 50 peer-reviewed papers (plus those currently in press or in review), secured nearly $500,000 in funding, and visited over 90% of the accessible coastline of Australia. My work is intensely museum and field orientated, building and researching museum collections around Australia and overseas. I am also passionately committed to inspiring young scientists and communicating the 'wow' of the natural world to non-scientists.



2005 Doctor of Philosophy, Marine Biology James Cook University, Townsville, QLD / 2003-2005 Taxonomy & phylogeny of Australian Cubozoa

(2003) Doctor of Philosophy, Integrative Biology (deferred) University of California, Berkeley, USA / 1997-2003 Evolution of jellyfish from Precambrian to present

1997 Bachelor of Science, emphasis in Marine Biology California State Univ. Northridge, USA / 1993-1997 Honors & Magna cum laude Zoological & Botanical breadth, skills in molecular methods

1993 Associate of Arts Los Angeles Pierce College, USA / 1990-1993 Biology, Computer Programming, Communication


Other Courses

  • 2005 Introduced Species Workshop, Dept Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry
  • 2004 Histological Methods (short course), James Cook University
  • 2003 Senior First Aid, current
  • 2001 Phylogenetic Inference, University of California Berkeley, USA
  • 1998 Australian Drivers License
  • 1998 Fulbright Scholar, 1998-1999, University of Tasmania & SA Museum
  • 1997 DNA Methodology, California State Univ. Long Beach, USA
  • 1996 Taxonomic Short Course, University of Washington, USA
  • 1988 Advanced Open Water SCUBA Certification (PADI)


I count myself as extraordinarily privileged that I have been able to make my passion my job. I enjoy discovering new things, working in the field or laboratory; acquiring new knowledge and skills, and passing to others a contagious enthusiasm and insatiable curiosity about the natural world and its inhabitants.

  • Excellent skills in scientific research: field collection, laboratory study, library research, analysing data, thinking laterally, writing, and publishing;
  • Working knowledge and detailed experience with DELTA, LucID, Platypus, PAUP, Nexus Data Editor, MacClade, and teaching knowledge of EndNote and Dreamweaver;
  • Certified SCUBA Diver with extensive experience in temperate and tropical waters;
  • High level of commitment to community education;
  • Extensive experience in morphology, molecular methods, histology, microscopy;
  • Extensive experience in public speaking to audiences of all sizes and backgrounds;
  • Extensive experience with media, including print, radio, television, and documentaries;
  • Proven track record on project design and implementation;
  • Excellent skills in proposal writing for large and small grants and projects;
  • Editorial skills for monthly newsletter and as referee for scientific journals;
  • Effective time management and problem-solving skills;
  • Proven capacity to acquire necessary knowledge quickly;
  • An easy-going, friendly, hard-working style.



I have been able to formally describe about 70 new species to date, including many new genera and several new families. Having made extensive contributions in alpha taxonomy, I am ready to move forward investigating the more muscular issues in the jellyfish world.

Current overseas research on links between climate change and exploding jellyfish populations suggests that the timing is excellent to research the driving forces and ecological and economic outcomes of jellyfish blooms in Australia. Temperate Australian fisheries stand a logical probability of increasing problems with jellyfish pests and plagues such as have occurred overseas, yet Australia lacks expertise to recognise early indicators or to manage these problems. Baseline biodiversity data are still lacking in most places.

The nomenclature that embodies the relationship between the benthic polyp and the pelagic medusa stages in the Hydrozoa is another of my strong interests. The current classification scheme is problematic, and I am committed to employing morpho-genetic techniques to derive a more natural classification.

Queen Victoria Museum's strategic location in southern Australia makes it a perfect venue for me to continue my studies in:

  • Taxonomy of jellyfishes, with emphasis on endemic Australian fauna;
  • Effects of climate change and other ecosystem perturbations on jellyfish populations;
  • Phylogenetic relationships of jellyfish species and higher taxa;
  • Evolution of jellyfishes from the Precambrian to the present;
  • Marine stinger management;
  • Introduced species: their prevention and management;
  • Managing the effect of jellyfishes on commercial fisheries;
  • Life cycles and early development of lower invertebrates.


I am committed to the production of new scientific knowledge and to interpreting and communicating that knowledge to scientists and non-scientists through a variety of outreach opportunities. One of my proudest accomplishments was the establishment of an exhibit of a working laboratory staffed by volunteer students and interns: a place to raise baby jellyfish as well as young scientists. Some of my other outreach activities include:

  • Science Show, 4BC Radio Brisbane (weekly summers, fortnightly rest of year, 2008-2011);
  • Keynote Speaker, SciCon Science Educators, Nelson, New Zealand, July 2010;
  • Bugs, Grubs & Slimey Things, School Holiday Program QVMAG 2009-2010;
  • Design and Production of museum exhibitions in the US and Australia, including a large permanent Biodiversity Exhibition, QVMAG 2009-2010;
  • Primary Researcher (volunteer) in Exhibit of a Working Laboratory, Cabrillo Marine Museum/Aquarium, Los Angeles (1993-1997);
  • University lectures, public seminars and professional workshops (1993-2010);
  • Popular articles published by me or about me (e.g., New Scientist, National Geographic);
  • Twice a guest on Robyn Williams' The Science Show on ABC (2004; 2007 Best-of's);
  • The Irukandji, 60 Minutes, Aug. 2004;
  • Director of Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services, a consulting company specialising in injury prevention and jellyfish management, with extensive stakeholder engagement including government, tourism, medical, and the public;
  • Plus many speaking engagements and interviews in newspapers, magazines, television and radio.


In recognising the importance of external funding, I have achieved success in identifying potential resources and bringing them to fruition and publication. As demonstrated below, I have accessed funding from highly competitive international and national sources such as Fulbright and ABRS, as well as private foundations and community groups. I have obtained some further $700,000 in safety program funding, not included below. I believe that the current situation of environmental instability and jellyfish blooms is likely to attract more government funding to this research area.

  • 2010 $6K, Enhancements to Australian Faunal Directory, ABRS (PI)
  • 2009 $25K, Australia-Thailand Institute, Dept of Foreign Affairs (Aus), (co-PI)
  • 2008 $180K, Taxonomy of jellyfishes, ABRS (#208-82, PI)
  • 2007 $30K, Taxonomy of jellyfishes, ABRS (#207-63, PI)
  • 2004 $40K, Aquaculture of Irukandji, CRC Reef (PI)
  • 2004 $15K, Irukandji studies, Robert King Memorial Foundation (PI)
  • 2003 $10K, Irukandji collecting and breeding, Lions Foundation (PI); (5K each 03, 04)
  • 2001 $7K, Collection Improvement Grant, Smithsonian Institution (PI)
  • 2000 $53K, Biodiversity of Australian jellyfishes & ctenophores, ABRS (#20045, co-PI)
  • 2000 $50K, Irukandji Antivenom Project (Uni Melbourne, Rotary, JCU, CRC) (co-PI)
  • 1998 $50K, Fulbright Fellowship
  • 1997 -- $10K, Mentoring Fellowship, PADI Foundation
  • 1995 $10K, Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

  • ==========



My science is strongly museum-orientated. It contributes to the development of collections and the research use of them. I have travelled extensively around the world studying type specimens, local varieties and unidentified specimens, as well as collecting and depositing new material.

As an honorary with the SAM and MTQ/QM, I have particular emphasis on building and studying those collections. I have disseminated my morphological and field techniques in recent papers and workshops.

  • Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery, Tas 2009-2010
  • NIWA & Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand 2007-2010
  • Queensland Museum, Brisbane 1999-2010
  • Museum of Tropical QLD, Townsville 1999-2008
  • South Australian Museum, Adelaide 1998-2010
  • Tasmanian Museum and Art Galleries, Hobart 1998-2010
  • Northern Territory Museum, Darwin 1998-2007
  • Western Australian Museum, Perth 1999-2006
  • Zoological Museum of the University, Copenhagen 2001, 2009
  • Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC 2001
  • Museum of Natural History, Paris 2001
  • The Natural History Museum, London 2001
  • Naturalis, Leiden 2001
  • South African Museum, Cape Town 2001
  • California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco 1994-2001
  • Australian Museum, Sydney 1998-2000
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History 1993-1999
  • Portabello Marine Lab, Dunedin, NZ 1998
  • Paleontological Institute, Moscow 1998
  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography, California 1993-1997
  • Cabrillo Marine Museum, Los Angeles 1993-1997

  • Approximately 90% of accessible coastal Australia 1998-2010
  • Moreton Bay, QLD (intensively) 2005
  • Circum-Tasmania (intensively) 2002
  • Western Australia (intensively) 2000
  • Palm Cove, QLD (twice daily, 93 days) 1999-2000
  • Nuyts Archipelago, Great Australian Bight 2002
  • Cold Bay, Alaska 2002
  • Eastern North Pacific San Diego, CA to Vancouver, BC 1995-2002
  • Midwater trawls, San Pedro Channel, Los Angeles 1993-2002
  • Chesapeake Bay, Virginia and Maryland 2001
  • Tobago, Caribbean 2001
  • San Sebastiano, Sao Paulo, Brazil 2001
  • Cape Town, South Africa 2001
  • Circum-South Island & Stewart Island, New Zealand 1998
  • Moorea, French Polynesia 1998


01/09 12/10 Launceston QUEEN VICTORIA MUSEUM & ART GALLERY 2 Wellington Street, Launceston, TAS 7250 QVMAG is Australia's largest non-metropolitan museum, established 120 years ago. The collections contain over 350,000 Natural History specimens. As Curator of Natural Sciences, I was Head of Department for Zoology, Botany, Paleontology and Geology. My duties included research, exhibition development, public programs, and supervision of four technical staff, 14 volunteers, and five honoraries. Under my supervision, Natural Sciences accomplished many milestones for which I remain very proud, including:
  • >50,000 records uploaded to OZCam;
  • Development of a major Biodiversity Exhibition with extensive e-labelling and fact sheets;
  • A temporary exhibition highlighting Darwin's accomplishments in the triple-anniversary year of 2009;
  • Development of an Image Database for QVMAG specimens and Tasmanian species;
  • Transfer of the Collection Databases from Texpress to FileMaker, with extensive staff training and consultation;
  • A major relocation of staff and collections in preparation for building renovation;
  • Clean up and organisation of the departmental Shared Drive on the computer system;
  • A comprehensive review of departmental safety equipment and procedures;
  • Strengthened linkages with UTAS, TMAG, & Royal Society;
  • Doubled the number of jellyfish known from Tasmania.

07/07 12/08 Townsville & Adelaide

08/05 05/07 Townsville HONORARY, SOUTH AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000 During this period, I was working on an ABRS grant through the South Australian Museum, completing numerous manuscripts and making improvements to Australian Faunal Directory and Species Bank. I also ran my own consulting business on marine stinger safety and injury prevention during this time.

SURF LIFE SAVING QUEENSLAND 18 Manning Street, South Brisbane, QLD 4101 Surf Life Saving, an iconic Australian volunteer organisation, is considered by many to be the authority on beach safety. As Marine Stinger Coordinator, I was responsible for developing and implementing all aspects of the public and in-house programs on prevention of marine animal injuries for all of Australia. My proudest achievements include a 75% reduction in the number of hospitalised stings, through a consistent, accurate and balanced safety message pro-actively delivered to industry and the public. Unfortunately the program lost government funding.

03/03 07/05 Townsville JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY Townsville, QLD 4811 As a PhD student at JCU, I built a research program into the identification and classification of jellyfish, as well as being the first to breed Irukandjis. During my thesis work, I discovered 14 new species of life-threatening jellyfish around Australia, as well as identifying the new species that killed a snorkelling tourist on the Great Barrier Reef and a young child on Cape York. I earned my PhD in 2005, but kept an office on campus for two more years as a Research Associate until I relocated to Adelaide.

Prior to 2003: I was a full-time student from 1990 (split between Australia & US from 1998), including teaching Biology 1B at University of California Berkeley 8/97-12/97.



Through my own volunteer and honorary appointments, I have gained a sincere and grateful appreciation for contributions by unpaid staff, that has been reflected in my active recruitment and nurturing of them, particularly students and early career researchers.

  • Medical Advisory Panel, St John Ambulance Australia, 2/08-present
  • Honorary Research Associate, Museum of Tropical QLD, 9/03-present
  • Honorary Research Associate, South Australian Museum, 3/03-present
  • National Marine Stinger Advisor (Honorary), Surf Life Saving Australia, 6/05-7/07
  • Jellyfish Safety Consultant, Pearl Producers Association, 3/04-12/08
  • Research Associate, Joint Genome Institute, 9/01-12/02
  • Golub Microscope Collection Curator, U.C. Berkeley, 8/01-12/01
  • Irukandji Antivenom Project, Surf Life Saving Australia, Cairns 11/99-3/00
  • Research Associate, U.C. Museum of Paleontology, 8/97-12/02
  • Research Coordinator, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Los Angeles, 1/93-8/97
  • Midwater Lecturer, Research Vessel Vantuna, 10/94-8/97



Gershwin, L. (2009) Stinger safety assessment, Darwin Lagoon, NT. Consultancy report for NT Government and Darwin Lagoon Corporation.

Gershwin, L. (2007) Facts and figures on stinger risks in N QLD. A report for the Australian Film Commission. 4 pp.

Gershwin, L. (2007) Identification of specimens from the Fraser Island stinger incident. A report for the QLD Government Irukandji Task Force. 6 pp.

Gershwin, L. (2007). Stinger Risks in the region of the Yongala. An Expert Statement report for the Court of Queensland. 11 pp.

Gershwin, L. (2007). Marine Animal Hazard Assessment in Bowen, QLD. A report for BazMark, for Baz Luhrmann's "Australia". 4 pp.

Gershwin, L. (2007). Report of the 2006 Marine Stinger Road Show. A report for the QLD Government Irukandji Task Force. 84 pp.

Gershwin, L., Dawes, P., Fenner, P., Gage, G., Drake, L., Small, G. & Moss, K. (2006) Marine Stinger Risk Management Guidelines. Surf Life Saving Queensland, Brisbane, 43 pp.

Gershwin, L. (2006). Current state of knowledge on Physalia and its treatment. A report for the Australian Resuscitation Council. 10 pp.

Gershwin, L. (2006). Identification of the Causal Agent in Bamaga fatality 8 Jan 2006. A report for the Coroner of Queensland. 6 pp.

Gershwin, L. (2004-2005) Stinger Updates. Quarterly reports for the Townsville City Council Beach Safety Committee. 2-6 pp.

Kingsford, M.J. & Gershwin, L. (2003) Control of Cassiopea population in Lake Alexander: A report for the Darwin City Council, 16 pp.

Gershwin, L. (1999) A preliminary assessment of medusae and other gelatinous zooplankton which may pose a threat to fisheries in Tasmanian waters. A report for Huon Aquaculture and the Tasmanian Salmon Cooperative, 4 pp.



I have a wide variety of interests beyond jellyfish, although, admittedly, I do passionately enjoy my work with them.

  • Macro photography
  • Film
  • Herb and vegetable gardening, carnivorous plants, and ferns
  • Poetry (writing and reading), and Sudoku
  • Asian cooking
  • Classic convertible cars (1989 Mx-5, 1964-68 Mustang, 1957 T-bird...)
  • Exploring beyond the travel brochures
  • Natural history of lower invertebrates and fungi
  • Unfortunately, although I'm a Gershwin and love music, I cannot sing or compose!

Click here for a Bibliography of Publications

Click here to download Dr Gershwin's CV

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