Health Sciences

Boost for Psychology Research at ACU

The School of Psychology is excited to announce a significant expansion to its research capacity.


In the area of developmental disability led by Professor Wilson, there are two strategic appointments and another in process. Professor Bert Steenbergen from Radboud University in the Netherlands is a new international professorial appointment who brings expertise in both experimental and applied approaches to the study of motor development in children, with a particular focus on cerebral palsy and developmental coordination disorder (DCD). Dr Nicholas Mumford has also commenced work at ACU as part of the collaboration with Steenbergen and others, and a post-doctoral appointment will be announced shortly. With Professor Imms in the School of Public Health and her collaborators, there will be a leading and proven group of researchers at ACU working in the important area of developmental disability and rehabilitation.

The Cognition and Emotion Research lab co-led by Professor Peter Rendell and Dr Gill Terrett, has grown to include three other talented early career researchers: Dr Skye McLennan, Dr Megan Willis and Dr Ans Vercammen and has 30 research students (honours, M Psyc and PhD). The group will be further enhanced with three exciting appointments. Professor Matthias Kliegel, who holds a chair in cognitive aging at Geneva University, Switzerland, is taking up an international professorial fellow appointment and will be joining the research group in October. Kliegel is a leading international researcher in prospective memory and cognitive training. Dr Izelle Labuschagne is a clinical neuroscientist focusing on emotion processing, she will be taking up a postdoctoral Research Fellow position from Aug 1. She brings expertise in brain imaging, cognitive assessments and neuropsychopharmacological techniques. Jennie Matthews has recently joined the group as a project officer and brings her welcome expertise in research project management from her previous position at RMIT.

The group also collaborates closely with Cardiovascular Researchers, ACU Professor David Thomson, Associate Professor Chantal Ski and Dr Jan Cameron and are undertaking major projects focusing on chronic heart failure in patients and how to improve cognitive function and their management of self-care.

Cognition & Emotion Research Lab Naples Conference

Cognition and Emotion Research Lab members at a conference in Naples

In the area of Mental Health led by Professor John Gleeson there are two exciting new appointments to the School. Professor David Penn is the Linda Wagner Martin Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. His research is focused on treatment for schizophrenia as well as the evaluation of social cognition in this clinician population. He has published over 170 articles and chapters and his research has been supported by NIMH, the Stanley Foundation and NARSAD. He is a clinical psychologist and researcher of international standing with expertise in recovery following serious mental health problems in youth. He is taking up a senior visiting fellow appointment with the school and will be joining colleagues for several weeks from late July. Dr Peter Koval will be taking up a postdoctoral appointment in September after completing his PhD at The University of Leuven. He will bring critical expertise in the assessment and high-level statistical analysis of real-world daily experiences of young people and their carers who are dealing with serious mental health disorders.

The Eating, Weight and Body Image Clinical Research Team led by Associate Professor Leah Brennan has recently appointed two research fellows Dr Katrina Parker and Ms Sarah Mitchell. They bring expertise in the assessment and treatment of eating and weight disorders and will strengthen the team's academic and clinical collaborations. They will also contribute to supervision of the team's 12 research students. Their research will be further facilitated by the recent establishment of the ACU Clinic for Healthy Eating and Weight.


The Development, Learning and Cognitive (DLC) lab, is based on the Brisbane campus of ACU, and led by Associate Professor Anne Tolan. Members include Dr Lyn Vromans, Dr Michelle Delaney, Dr Robyn Moffitt, Dr Kate Witteveen, Dr Stephanie Malone, and a significant number of research students (Honours, M Psych and PhD). The main focus of this laboratory is on experimental work in the broad area of cognitive science. In particular, the DLC lab investigates language and reading development, learning disabilities, autism, brain trauma, motor performance, cognitive aging and psychopathology, with a particular focus on working memory.

The team has a number of distinguished collaborators (both local and international), including Professor Charles Hulme (University College London), who has been appointed as Professorial Fellow at ACU on the Brisbane campus. Professor Hulme will be providing mentoring for team members and for projects associated with this lab. Recently Professor Hulme spent a month (June, 2014) on the Brisbane campus working with team members on various research projects. Professor Hulme has a distinguished and significant international research profile. Professor Hulme has broad research interests in reading, language and memory processes and their development, and is an expert on randomised controlled trials. He is currently a Senior Editor of the Association of Psychological Science’s flagship journal, Psychological Science. In 2009 he published “Developmental disorders of language, learning and cognition” with Professor Maggie Snowling, who is also a distinguished scholar in the area of developmental disorders.

Professor Hulme’s recent presentation “Causal Analysis: Can we identify the causes of developmental disorders?” is available by request from the School of Psychology.

Dr Lyn Vromans, one of the members of the DCL lab was successful in obtaining an ARC Linkage grant for four years (2014 to 2017) with her collaborators at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Griffith University and the Refugee Resettlement Agency. The project title is: “Developing Best Practice for Settlement Services for Refugee Women-at-Risk”. The aim of the project is to understand the determinants of psychosocial wellbeing for women-at-risk during settlement and to draw upon the ecological model of community psychology to inform the design and delivery of settlement services for this group.