Dr Rachel Tham

Research Fellow (Air pollution and noise)
Behaviour, Environment and Cognition Research Program

A picture of Rachel Tham

Areas of expertise: environmental epidemiology, air pollution, noise and public health 

ORCID ID: 0000-0001-9362-5189

Phone: (03) 9230 8179

Email: Rachel.Tham@acu.edu.au 

ACU Location: Melbourne Campus

Rachel Tham is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, ACU. Her research focuses on the associations between ambient air pollution and noise and cognitive health of older adults. Rachel completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2017 – her research focused on the combined role of outdoor fungal spores, air pollution and human rhinovirus on asthma hospitalisations and lung function. She has a broad background in public health encompassing clinical education and examining of dental and oral heath therapy students at La Trobe University, teaching Evidence Based Clinical Practice and Environmental Medicine to medical students at Monash University, and research in oral health and rural health.Rachel has published 40 peer-reviewed journal articles (13 of which she is first-author and 1 as senior author) and 2 book chapters in an Australian university undergraduate textbook. She was awarded a NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarship to undertake her PhD (2013-2016). Rachel is an Affiliate of the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Air pollution, energy transitions and health Research (CAR) and is a member of the Annual Conference Committee of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology.

Select publications

  • Mavoa S, Keevers D, Kane SC, Wake M, Tham R, Lycett K, Wong YT, Chong K. (2021) Parental Preconception Exposures to Outdoor Neighbourhood Environments and Adverse Birth Outcomes: A Protocol for a Scoping Review and Evidence Map. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021;18(17):8943.
  • Stenson C, Wheeler AJ, Carver A, Donaire-Gonzalez D. Alvarado-Molina M, Nieuwenhuijsen M, Tham, R(2021). The impact of Traffic-Related air pollution on child and adolescent academic Performance: A systematic review. Environment International;155:106696 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106696 
  • Claesen J, Wheeler AJ, Klabbers C, Donaire-Gonzalez, D, Molina MA, Tham R, Nieuwenhuijsen M, Carver, A. (2021) Associations of traffic-related air pollution and greenery with academic outcomes among primary schoolchildren. Environmental Research; 199: 111325 doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111325
  • Cerin E, Yin S, Choi WK, Ngan W, Tham R, Barnett A. (2021) Development of Measures of Perceived Neighborhood Environmental Attributes Influencing, and Perceived Barriers to Engagement in, Healthy Behaviors for Older Chinese Immigrants to Australia. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health;18(9).
  • Tham R and Schikowski T (2021) The role of traffic-related air pollution on neuro-degenerative diseases in older people: an epidemiological perspective. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 79 (3): 949-959. doi 10.3233/JAD-200813
  • Zosky G, VanderHoorn S, Abramson M, Dwyer S, Green D, Heyworth JS, Jalaludin B, McCrindle-Fuchs J, Tham R, Marks, G on behalf of the Centre for Air pollution energy and Health Research (2021) Principles for setting air quality guidelines to protect human health in Australia. Medical Journal of Australia, 214 (6): 254-256.e.251
  • NS Idrose, Tham R, Lodge CJ, Lowe AJ, Perrett JL, Vicendese D, Newbigin EJ, Tang MLK, Douglass J, Aldakheel FM, Waidyatillake NT, Douglass J A, Abramson MJ, Walters EH, Erbas B, Dharmage SC (2020) Short-term exposure to grass pollen is associated with lower lung function and increased airway inflammation. Is short-term exposure to grass pollen adversely associated with lung function and airway inflammation in the community? Allergy, 76 (4): 1136-1146. https://doi.org/10.1111/all.14566 
  • Tham R, Morgan G, Dharmage S, Marks G, Cowie, C (2020). Scoping review to understand the potential for public health impacts of transitioning to lower carbon emission technologies and policies. Environmental Research Communications , 2: 065003 https://doi.org/10.1088/2515-7620/ab9526 
  • Cerin E, Barnett A, Chaix B, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ, Caeyenberghs K, Jalaludin B, Sugiyama T, Sallis JF, Lautenschlager NT, Ni MY, Poudel G, Donaire-Gonzalez D, Tham R, Wheeler AJ, Knibbs L, Tian L, Chan YK, Dunstan DW, Carver A, Anstey K J (2020). International Mind, Activities and Urban Places (iMAP) study: methods of a cohort study on environmental and lifestyle influences on brain and cognitive health. BMJ Open; 10 (3) e036607: doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-036607 
  • Altug H, Fuks KB, Huls A, Mayer AK, Tham R, Krutmann J, Schikowski T (2020). Air pollution is associated with depressive symptoms in elderly women with cognitive impairment. Environment International; 136:105448.
  • Borchers Arriagada N, Horsley JA, Palmer AJ, Morgan GG, Tham R, Johnston FH (2019). Association between fire smoke fine particulate matter and asthma-related outcomes: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Environmental Research;179 (Pt A):108777.
  • Tham R, Erbas B, Dharmage SC, Tang MLK, Aldakheel F, Lodge CJ, Thomas PS, Taylor PE, Abramson MJ and Lowe AJ (2019). Outdoor fungal spores and acute respiratory effects in vulnerable individuals. Environmental Research 178: doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2019.108675
  • Lambert KA, Bowatte G, Tham R, Lodge C, Prendergast L, Heinrich J, Abramson MJ, Dharmage SC, Erbas B (2018). Greenspace and Atopic Sensitization in Children and Adolescents—A Systematic Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 15 (11)
  • Shrestha S, Katelaris C, Dharmage S, Burton P, Vicendese D, Tham R, Abramson M, Erbas B (2018) High ambient levels of grass, weed and other pollens are associated with asthma admissions in children and adolescents: A large 5-year case-crossover study. Clinical and Experimental Allergy 48(11): 1421-1428; doi: 10.1111/cea.13225 
  • Bowatte G, Tham R, Perret JL, Bloom MS, Dong G, Waidyatillake N, Bui D, Morgan GG, Jalaludin B, Lodge CJ, Dharmage SC (2018). Air Pollution and Otitis Media in Children: A Systematic Review of Literature. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 15(2)


  • 2020-2021, Fire Rescue Victoria (formerly Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade): The provision of literature review on the potential health effects of smoke exposure during the first 24 hours - $193,327. Joint project with the Australian Institute of Primary Care and Ageing at La Trobe University. 
  • 2019-2021, Environment Protection Authority (Victoria) – Measurement and analysis of environmental noise in Melbourne - $50,000

Accolades and awards

  • National Health and Medical Research Council 3-year PhD Postgraduate Scholarship (2013-2016)
  • NHMRC Centre for Air quality and health Research and evaluation (CAR) PhD top-up scholarships (2013-2017)

Appointments and affiliations 

  • Research Fellow, Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Australian Catholic University (2018- )
  • Adjunct Research Fellow, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne (2020- )
  • Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Department of Dentistry and Oral Health, La Trobe University, 2015-2021
  • International Society for Environmental Epidemiology
  • Australasian Epidemiological Association
  • International Epidemiological Association
  • Public Health Association of Australia
  • Australian Dental Association
  • Indoor Air Quality Association (Australian Chapter)

Editoral roles

  • Member of the Editorial Board for the “Oral” journal (2020 - current)
  • Co-Editor Toxics Special issue: Association of Environmental Exposures with Mental and Cognitive Health 

International journal review panel

  • Environmental Health Perspectives
  • Environment International
  • BMJ Open
  • Respirology
  • The Lancet Planetary Health
  • Journal of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Atmospheric Pollution Research
  • Environmental Pollution
  • International Journal of Environmental research and Public Health
  • Fire
  • Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
  • Preventive Medicine

Grant agency review panel

  • NHMRC CRE Centre for Air pollution, energy transitions and health Research (CAR) Seed Grants, Postdoctoral Grants and PhD top-up Applications: peer reviewer
  • Asthma UK Senior Clinical Fellowship Awards: peer reviewer

The logo of the ACU Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

Get in touch

Level 5, 215 Spring Street,
Melbourne, VIC, 3000

Connect with us

Chat with our team via social media.