Lifecourse studies involve exploring patterns of development and change in peoples lives over many years. This helps us to identify specific factors or groups of factors that predict psychological health and illness. Deakin researchers work with a number of Australia's leading longitudinal and intergenerational studies. Information from these studies informs government policy-making, educational programs and interventions to prevent or reduce the impact of mental disorders and social and emotional problems.
Craig Olsson is an Associate Professor of the School of Psychology at Deakin's Waterfront Campus.
Craig's current research involves running large scale population-based longitudinal studies in childhood developmental psychology. The studies provide inter-generational data, tracking social and emotional wellbeing over multiple decades to reveal the link between genetic and environmental determinants and our mental and behavioural disorders.
These life-course studies include over 70,000 participants who are followed over three decades and three generations. Craig's ambition is to build a national centre of research excellence for longitudinal studies, which will help give young people a healthy start to an emotional life. He hopes his data will establish a link between the public's mental wellbeing and their physical health, how our social and emotional states can have an impact on the body's morbidity and mortality. It is Craig's belief that psychology should become more of a preventative science, pre-treating people by emphasizing healthy living early on in life.
Craig did his PhD at Melbourne University in Developmental Psychology in 2000. He also holds a Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award for his contribution to Developmental Psychology, the first such prize awarded to a Deakin staff member. Craig was presented with the award by the Australian Research Council in 2013 for his work following offspring of the Australian Temperament Project.
Craig has a long standing association with the Murdoch Children's Research Institute; he worked there on a competitive fellowship track for over ten years. Since taking up tenure at Deakin in 2011 he has established a firm link between the university and the hospital, recently signing an official partnership between the Murdoch Children's Research Institute and Deakin. Over the past 10 years he was instrumental in securing competitive research grants totalling over $11 million, and he has produced 80 scientific publications, resulting in more than 1400 citations.
Craig sees his role at Deakin as a facilitator of quality research into life course and longitudinal studies. He wants to help early and mid-career researchers to thrive in this area as soon possible. Since there are none currently in existence, Craig aims to make Deakin a school nationally recognised for its dedication to preventative science.
Professor David Mellor is Associate Dean (International) for the Faculty of Health and a Professor in the School of Psychology. Based at the Burwood campus, he has been with Deakin since 1991 and has a wealth of experience in many different areas of psychology. Half his time is dedicated to his professorship in the School, while with the other half he represents the Faculty of Health in its global engagement activities, such as the development of research partnerships with universities around the world.
David had eighteen years of experience working as a clinical psychologist in the Western Australian and Victorian public health systems after completing his Masters degree and this work continues to inform his teaching in the postgraduate psychology programs today. He has supervised 30 doctorial students' theses and more than fifty 4thyear students' theses. The projects supervised range across clinical, health and forensic psychology, have explored a wide range of topics – from children’s mental health, to cognitive reminiscence therapies for depression, female sex offenders, and desistence from crime.
In his own work, David has a strong interest in intercultural psychology. He has received fellowships to work in Chile on projects investigating racism toward indigenous people, a topic on which he completed his PhD in Australia. David’s studies on body dissatisfaction among adolescents is also intercultural, drawing from studies he conducted in Chile, Malaysia and China. Other work in China has been conducted at the Shanghai Mental Health Centre on schizophrenia and childhood disorders, as well as aging and cognitive decline in dementia.
The work by David and his colleagues has attracted significant research funding, including Australian Research Council and National Health and Medical Research Council grants. One recent ARC-funded project focused on indigenous men’s health, with the aim of gaining a greater understanding of the meaning of health and the barriers to health, as well as the facilitators of good health among indigenous men. Current funded projects are evaluating approaches to managing dementia in aged care facilities.
School of Psychology
Senior Research Fellow
Jacqui Macdonald is a lecturer in psychology at the Burwood campus working primarily with longitudinal studies as they relate to family caregiving. This is a multi-generational approach that observes the long-term development of the caregiver.
Currently Jacqui is working with the Australian Temperament Project Generation 3 (ATPG3) study. The ATP has been going since 1983, and Jacqui has been working with the Generation 3 study since conceptualisation. Original Generation 2 participants were entered into the study at four months old, and now they have their own families it is possible to see the long-term influence of various parenting factors in their life history. Cognitive and social skills and relationships with family and peers are all part of the observations. The ATPG3 study has attracted two Australian Research Council grants, and a National Health and Medical Research Council grant.
Her commitment to foster positive family environments is also evident in her second area of interest – that of the development of caregiving in men, specifically men’s mental health across the transition into fatherhood. Jacqui is currently leading the Men and Parenting Pathways Study which will follow a cohort of men aged 28-32 for five years with the aim of ascertaining lifestyle changes, stressors, and the best way to support a family’s psychological wellbeing.
Jacqui also supervisors PhD, honours and 4th year graduate diploma students.