Welcome to CAPSTAN

Welcome to CAPSTAN

Welcome to CAPSTAN


 "Individually we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean."

The Collaborative Australian Postgraduate Sea Training Alliance Network aims to transform marine science education through the development of a national approach to teaching and learning in the marine realm. CAPSTAN provides a platform for institutional, industrial, and generational knowledge transfer through collaboration on board Australia’s state-of-the-art research vessel, the RV Investigator. CAPSTAN is a first of its kind and will transform marine science education for generations to come.

In 2017-2020, the Marine National Facility (MNF) generously provided the CAPSTAN programme with R/V Investigator ship time and access to on-board equipment for 3 pilot voyages for up to 30 post-graduate students and trainers. Our first voyage crosses the Great Australian Bight in November 2017 (check out the voyage blog!)

Join us!  The 2nd CAPSTAN voyage is scheduled to depart from Hobart, Tasmania 29th April, arriving in Fremantle, Western Australia, 9th May, 2019. More details will be posted on the Get Involved page as will the link to the 2019 application form.

Welcome Aboard

Participating in a CAPSTAN voyage?

Here’s some of the amazing marine science and shipboard experiences you can expect!
You will hear, see, and do marine science:


  • Your team of trainers and crew on the board represent a wide span of expertise in the marine sciences- you will hear from them about their area of expertise as well as their cumulative years of experience on ships studying the biologychemistrygeology, and physics of the global oceans


  • You’ll see and experience how a world-class research vessel operates as you set sail on board the R/V Investigator
  • You’ll see (and identify) sea life from large sea birds and marine mammals, to squid, to microscopic plankton
  • You’ll see presentations and participate in workshops by experts in the biology, chemistry, geology, and physics of the global oceans


  • You’ll develop your science communication skills, including contributing to our CAPSTAN blog!
  • You’ll improve your data collection, analyses, and reporting skills
  • You’ll practice safe conduct in a marine research environment
  • You’ll use and become familiar with state-of-the-art oceanographic sampling equipment
  • You’ll network with other marine science students and researchers from across Australia
  • You’ll
    • Tow plankton nets
    • Collect sediments using coring and dredge devices
    • Measure water profiles with a CTD
    • Collect and titrate seawater from Niskin bottles
    • Map the seafloor

Not coming but want to follow along? Stay up to date with our CAPSTAN blog (coming soon!)

Voyage Blog

Welcome to the CAPSTAN blog!

Keeping you posted with the latest from on board the R/V Investigator!

You can expect new blog posts (and photos!) from our student participants during each of the CAPSTAN voyages!  Hear about the science and the learning taking place on board straight from the next generation of marine scientists!

Project updates

In the news

26th November 2017 - New wave of marine scientists complete voyage

Read More

2017 Voyage will sail in November!

20 students and 9 trainers from across Australia will soon be heading to meet the R/V Investigator in Fremantle to start the first voyage across the Great Australian Bight to Hobart!  They will then spend 13 days gaining hands-on experience with a variety of modern sampling equipment and maybe even seeing some curious marine mammals. The main study area is located in the far west of the Bight.  Stay tuned for updates and photos!

Conferences & Presentations


Look for CAPSTAN at the Joint 25th AMOS National Conference and 12th International Conference for Southern Hemisphere Meteorology and Oceanography in February 2018!

Past presentations

Armand, L.K. and Moore, C.L. Weigh anchor! The CAPSTAN national post-graduate sea training sets sail in 2017. Lightening lecture and poster. Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS) and Meteorological Society of New Zealand (MSNZ) conference.  ANU Canberra. Presented by Leah Moore on behalf of L. Armand. 9th February, 2017.

Armand, L.K. The Collaborative Australian Postgraduate Sea Training Alliance Network (CAPSTAN). AUGEN. Canberra. 28th January 2016.

Armand, L.K. Beyond the Next Wave: A national postgraduate at sea training initiative on the RV Investigator. AMOS/ARCCSS National Conference, Melbourne. 10th February, 2016.

Armand, L.K. All things Mud! Geosciences and the RV Investigator. Sydney Institute of Marine Science SAC general meeting. 26 August, 2015.

Armand, L.K. (2015).Training work-ready graduates: the SMART2 (CAPSTAN) initiative. Bioscience Education Australia Network – Creating the Future. Shine Dome Canberra. 9th December 2015.


Armand, L., Coleman, R., Coffin, M., Bose, N., Suthers, I., Bruce, E., Baker, E., Gladstone, W., Ellwood, M. and Holmes, S. (2015) Strategic Marine Alliance Research, Teaching and Training(SMART2): A national Master-level at sea training initiative. Pp. 42. Dept. of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Macquarie University: North Ryde. http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/346971. You can read the Executive summary here or download the full report from Macquarie University ResearchOnline.

RV Investigator

Marine National Facility – RV Investigator


Marine National Facility – Home Page


CSIRO – Investigator Blog


Branding & Marketing

RGC: Branding & Design Agency has been contracted to develop the CAPSTAN logo and marketing campaign.

RGC: Branding & Design Agency
Suite F1, 1-15 Barr Street
Balmain, Sydney
NSW 2041

T: 02 9555 1611
M: 0404 086 726

Get Involved!

Here you find information on how to support the CAPSTAN programme (information for universities, government, and industries) as well as how to participate in a voyage (trainer or student!).  Have questions, our contact information is at the bottom!

Come sail with us

…as a student:

Our training voyages all take place on board the state-of-the-art research vessel RV Investigator. They consist of practical hands-on research, sea training, theoretical lectures, and an assessment of your ability to communicate scientific findings and ideas. It won’t be all hard work though, as there will be a number of fun activities along the way. This is a great opportunity to test your research, inquiry, problem-solving and communication in a unique work environment. Find out more about what to expect in Welcome Aboard!

The second voyage sails from Hobart to Fremantle in 2019.  All masters and honours level students enrolled in Australian Institutions are welcome to apply! Priority will be given to applicants from institutions subscribed to the CAPSTAN programme (see below for more reasons why to subscribe!).

… as a trainer:

CAPSTAN needs academics passionate about teaching marine science!

Applications for our second voyage will be posted in October 2018.  We are scheduled to depart from Hobart, Tasmania 29th April, 2019, arriving in Fremantle, Western Australia, 9thMay, 2019. This training voyage will consist of practical hands-on research, sea training, theoretical lectures and an assessment of student’s ability to communicate scientific findings and ideas.  Applications are open only to Australian Institutional Academics and Research personnel only. Applicants from subscribed CAPSTAN institutions will receive priority consideration.

Conference room with student participants

Photo: P. Harmsen/MNF

Support our Mission!

CAPSTAN needs stakeholder support!

Our approach will be heavily informed by your opinions, expectations, and experiences of graduate training initiatives and education received by marine scientists. The CAPSTAN aims to increase Australian student qualifications, improve scientific outputs and reputations, enhance employability skills, and increase the use of national infrastructure. On behalf of the CAPSTAN Foundational Alliance, we are excited to introduce our Business Investor Prospectus. We invite you to consider becoming part of this first of its kind and truly national sea-training programme on-board the RV Investigator. These outcomes have the potential benefit you and your industry for years to come.

Collaboration with Industry participants

Photo: P. Harmsen/MNF

We are currently looking for industry sponsorship and collaboration, so please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are interesting in climbing aboard this exciting initiative.

If you are a representative of the marine science industries, government or tourism, please download our capstan-business-prospectus

If you are from an Australian university, please download our capstan-university-prospectus

Where can I learn more?

Here are a few resources and webpages which will provide more detail on the background and context for the project.

National Maritime Science Plan 2015-2025

SMART2: A National Sea Training Initiative

CSIRO National Research Infrastructure: National Facilities and Collections



Contact Us:

We’re here to answer any questions you might have!

For all general enquiries please email us at:



Dr. April Abbott, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Macquarie University


Moon Rea

Macquarie University

About the network

Research vessel-based training

Photo: P. Harmsen/MNF

The Irish SMART Programme

CAPSTAN would like to thank the Irish SMART programme, and in particular, Pauhla McGrane of the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology for their continued support and encouragement of the CAPSTAN initiate.

Research vessel-based training in Ireland has been in place since 1986, however, in 2008 the Irish Marine Institute with the Higher Education Authority developed a pilot programme to coordinate the use of national infrastructure for training with a specific desire to increase national capacity, skills and expertise. The trial was successful and led to the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART). SMART commenced in 2011 by integrating five Higher Education Institutions with the Marine Institute and the Higher Education Authority to pool existing facilities, expertise and infrastructure to develop and deliver efficient, accredited, customised education programmes. SMART has since trained 300 marine-related students annually on the RV Celtic Voyager and in 2014, ran 12 national and international training programmes, one of which is IMarEST (Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology) accredited.

The Irish SMART programme is an outstanding example of a collaborative and integrated national marine training programme upon which Australian higher educational institutions and existing national facilities and institutes can model a new national educational framework and collaborative programme.

For more information on the SMART programme, follow the link to their website http://www.smartseaschool.com/

School of the Sea

School of the Sea programs have previously existed in Australia, with the last being the internationally-­open University of the Sea program between 2005-­2010 (Armand et al. 2015). The aim of the University of the Sea was to enable senior researchers from the region and overseas to work with young local scholars on marine issues of direct interest to the Asia-Pacific region. Unlike the University of the Sea, SMART2, now CAPSTAN, aims to be foremost, an annual, permanent national student program delivering a nationally agreed curriculum. Education at sea is a theme where northern hemisphere universities, institutions and governments have many years of experience alignment post-graduate attributes gained by learning undertaken at sea and addressing stakeholder needs a part of education frameworks in Ocean Sciences and Technology (Henriet et al. 2010). The basis of many of these programs is experiential learning (Evans 1994) or immersive education (Dennison & Oliver 2013).

Meet our team

Director: April N Abbott, PhD

April Abbott is a lecturer in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Macquarie University. Dr. Abbott is a sedimentary geochemist with seagoing experience on multiple research vessels including the R/V Investigator.  Her PhD is in Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric Science with an accompanying certificate in College & University Teaching.

Secretariat: Moon Rea

Moon has joined April at Macquarie University as part of the CAPSTAN team.  She will be assisting with all the administration of the pilot program and can be contacted via fse.CAPSTANapps@mq.edu.au, fse.CAPSTANenquiries@mq.edu.au, or directly via Moon.Rea@mq.edu.au

Current CAPSTAN Members

Reference Group

Chair: TBDIndustry/GovernmentIndependent Chair, external stakeholder.
Mr Ben RaeActing Director Marine National FacilityMNF liaison, scheduling, logistic support, web and publicity support. Advice on Stakeholder needs.
Dr. April AbbottMacquarie UniversityDirector, liaison between all groups.
Prof. Peter SteinbergDirector Sydney Institute of Marine Science

Champion for SIMS, national Masters hosting programme support,

web and publicity support.

Prof. Susan JonesUniversity of TasmaniaLTAS SCIENCE author, expert in curriculum design.
Dr Pauhla McGraneGalway-Mayo Institute of Technology

Director of Irish SMART programme. International sea training

curriculum and logistical expert.

Mr Tim MoltmannDirector Integrated Marine Obs. System

Champion for IMOS integration, educational product development

and educational tool workshops.

Dr Adam LewisGeoscience AustraliaAdvice on Stakeholder needs.
Mr Phillip BoxallAust. Antarctic DivisionAdvice on Stakeholder needs.

Academic and Institutional Representatives from subscribed CAPSTAN members

  • Subscriptions in process
April Abbott/Martin Ostrowski Macquarie University
Phil Boxall Australian Antarctic Division
Leah Moore University of Canberra
Jenny Davis/Penny Wurm/Karen Gibb Charles Darwin  University
Laura Harman Deakin University
Zanna Chase University of Tasmania
Tom Hubble/Eleanor Bruce* University of Sydney
Sophie Leterme* Flinders University
Pascale Quester* Adelaide University
Katerina Petrou/ Martina Doblin * Uni. of Tech., Sydney
Michael Ellwood * Aust. Nat. University
Lynnath Beckley* Murdoch University

CAPSTAN Sponsors of Student Mobility (2017-2019)

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage


CAPSTAN Foundational Alliance members (2015-2016)

Academic Advisory & Implementation Group

Dr A. AbbottMacquarie UniversityProject leader & group liaison, web content, oceanography.
Dr M. OstrowskiMacquarie Universitymolecular community liaison.
Prof. I SuthersUNSW, Australiazooplankton ecologist, state government dept. liaison.
A/P. M RoughanUNSW, Australiaphysical oceanographer.
Dr K. Petrou *Uni. of Tech., Sydneycurriculum development.
Dr S. HolmesUni. Western Sydneybenthic ecologist
Dr E. BruceUniversity of Sydneycoastal/marine geomorphologist.
Prof. R. ColemanUniversity of TasmaniaGovt contacts, physical oceanographer, quantitative skills.
Prof. RanmuthugalaAust. Maritime CollegeExtensive educational training at sea, engineer.
A/P. M. EllwoodAust. Nat. Universitymarine chemist.
Dr J. Bourget*Uni. Western Australiamarine geologist, international program experience.
Dr Chris Cvitanovic*MNF Policy OfficerMNF liaison & web assistance, marine policy.
Dr Ana Lara-Lopez*IMOS OfficerIMOS liaison & web assistance, Government contacts.
Postgraduate ProgramSIMSSIMS liaison and web assistance.
Dr Leah MooreUni. Canberra   Volcanology, hydrogeological Landscape (HGL), science education

CAPSTAN Partners

CAPSTAN Membership

Pilot Programme Institutional Partners ( * finalising subscription)

Macquarie University – Adelaide University*, Australian National University*, University of Canberra – Charles Darwin University – Deakin University – Flinders University* – Murdoch University* – University of Tasmania – University of Technology, Sydney* – The University of Sydney*  – University of Western Australia* – Australian Government Department of the Environment (Australian Antarctic Division).

Pilot Programme Sponsors of Student Mobility

MARGO, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

Pilot Programme Supporters

Marine National Facility (MNF)-CSIRO, Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS)

Original CAPSTAN Foundational Alliance

Macquarie University – Marine National Facility (MNF) – Australian Government Geoscience Australia – Australian Government Department of the Environment (Australian Antarctic Division) – Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) – University of New South Wales – Australian National University – The University of Western Australia – Western Sydney University – The University of Sydney – The University of Tasmania – Australian Maritime College – University of Technology Sydney – University of Canberra – Flinders University – Sydney Institute of Marine Science – The Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training

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