Dr John Hooper

John Hooper is an international authority on sponges (Phylum Porifera), with specific research interest in their taxonomy, systematics, biogeography, biodiversity and conservation biology, and biodiversity and marine conservation in general.

John Hooper

In 1987 he began collaborating with 'biodiscovery' agencies searching for new therapeutic pharmaceutical compounds from marine invertebrates, working with a variety of agencies including the United States National Cancer Institute, the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences, the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement New Caledonia, the Cancer Research Institute at the University of Arizona, the Coral Reef Research Foundation in Palau, the University of Utah Medicinal Chemistry Group, the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and Natural Products Discovery at Griffith University (now Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies).

These collaborations provided unique opportunities to undertake extensive field work to study the reefs across tropical Australia, Southeast Asia, Indo-Malay Archipelago, the western Pacific rim and Pacific islands. Irrespective of any commercial pharmaceutical products that may arise from these collaborations, collections of over 35,000 specimens in more than 4000 species of sponges were made - most new to science - which has more than tripled our previous estimates of this biodiversity.

So far he has described, named or renamed over 600 new species, 10 new genera, 2 new families and suborders of sponges since 1982. Over his career he has raised nearly five million dollars in external grant funding, supervised several PhD and postdoctoral students, holds two adjunct appointments, and serves on a number of committees, editorial and advisory boards in both scientific and administrative capacities.

Since 1999 he also took on an administrative role as Head of the Biodiversity Program, and subsequently in 2004 also the Geosciences Program, leading a group of approximately 30 permanent scientific and technical positions, up to 15 grant funded staff and a pool of over 40 active Honorary staff to discover and document Queensland’s unique marine and terrestrial, living and fossil faunas.

Adjunct appointments

  • Adjunct Professor, Eskitis Institute for Cell & Molecular Therapies, Griffith University.
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Faculty of Biological and Chemical Sciences, School of Integrative Biology, The University of Queensland.

Areas of expertise

Systematics, ecology, biogeography, biodiversity, phylogenetics, biodiscovery and conservation biology of sponges Phylum Porifera. Chemical ecology, molecular taxonomy and chemotaxonomy of Porifera. Marine ecology and fisheries. Marine and coastal management. Reproductive and population biology. Biodiversity, bioinformatics & conservation of marine resources.


Taxonomy of tropical Australian Octocorallia (Anthozoa: Coelenterata) primarily from the Census of Marine Life 'CReefs' expeditions

Research project documenting and describing an existing collection of morphospecies of octocorals and undertaking new collections of octocorals of Queensland and tropical Australasia.


Pipestela, a new genus of Axinellidae (Porifera: Demospongiae: Halichondrida) and description of three new species

Alvarez, B., Hooper, J.N.A & Van Soest, R.W.M. 2008 04 30: Pipestela, a new genus of Axinellidae (Porifera: Demospongiae: Halichondrida) and description of three new species. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 52(2): 105–118. Brisbane. ISSN 0079-8835.

Collation and validation of museum collection databases related to the distribution of marine sponges in northern Australia

Hooper, J.N.A. & Ekins, M. 2004 (published online 2009). Technical Reports of the Queensland Museum Number 002. ISBN 978-0-9805692-5-4. Written for: National Oceans Office C2004/020 (2004)

Biological baseline survey of the ex-HMAS Brisbane artificial reef

Schlacher-Hoenlinger, M.A., Walker, S., Johnson, J., Schlacher, T. & Hooper, J.N.A. 2006 (published online 2009) Technical reports of the Queensland Museum No 001. ISBN 978-0-9805692-6-1. Written for: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Biological monitoring of the ex-HMAS Brisbane artifical reef: Phase II - Habitat values

Schlacher-Hoenlinger, M.A., Walker, S.J., Johnson, J., Schlacher, T., Hooper, J.N.A., Ekins, M., Banks, I.W., Sutcliffe, P.R. 2009. Technical Reports of the Queensland Museum Number 003. ISBN 978-0-9805692-8-5. Written for: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM).


Head, Biodiversity & Geosciences Programs


BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD

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