Study Manager, PhD Candidate
BPsych(Hons), PhD Candidate (Public Health)
Mary is a Study Manager at Telethon Kids Institute and a final year PhD candidate through the University of Adelaide and Telethon Kids Institute. Mary’s research broadly focuses on understanding the mechanisms that contribute to inequalities during the early years, the development of interventions and resources that support children’s health and development, and ensuring research informs policy and practice changes across Australia and internationally.
Mary’s expertise includes early childhood health, development and education, screen time during the early years, the home language environment, youth mental health, children’s social and emotional wellbeing, and public health advocacy.
Mary currently manages two NHMRC funded prospective cohort studies within the team, the Language in Little Ones (LiLO) study and the Electronic Use in Little Ones (EUiLO) study. The LiLO study focuses on understanding inequalities within the home language environment, as measured by the amount of talk, during the first five years of life and the impact this has on developmental outcomes at school entry. The EUiLO study, an NHMRC Ideas Grant where Mary is CIB, builds on the data collected from LiLO to examine the impact of screen use during the early years, how this differs across socioeconomic groups and what impact it has on children’s development. Mary also leads a Channel 7 Telethon Trust funded project where she is working alongside parents and early childhood professionals to co-design an online parenting intervention to support parents with very young children to develop healthy screen time behaviours. Finally, Mary also collaborates on the Wellbeing and Engagement Collection study which uses a population health approach to understanding children and adolescent’s social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, school engagement and health behaviours (e.g., breakfast skipping and screen use before bed).
Mary is also an active member of the 0-3 Early Years Taskforce in South Australia, the Public Health Association of Australia’s SA Branch and Child and Youth Health SIG, the Co-Chair of the Student and Postdoc Committee for the International Social Epidemiology Society. She is always interested in forming new collaborations with passionate researchers, policymakers or practitioners working across the early years system.
Objectively measured infant and toddler screen time: Findings from a prospective study
Screen time guidelines recommend no screens under two years due to the potential negative impacts on development. While current reports suggest many children exceed this, research relies on parent reports of their children's screen exposure. We objectively assess screen exposure during the first two years and how it differs by maternal education and gender.Published research Early Childhood Development Technology & Kids Early Years SystemsJanuary 2023
Implementing a combined individual placement and support and vocational peer work program in integrated youth mental health settings
To describe the implementation and outcomes of a combined individual placement and support (IPS) and vocational peer work program for young people with mental ill-health.Published research Early Childhood Development Youth mental healthFebruary 2022
Prevalence of electronic device use before bed among Australian children and adolescents: a cross-sectional population level study
To understand the prevalence of children and adolescents’ electronic device use (EDU) in the hour before bed and identify sociodemographic groups that are at increased risk of problematic use.Published research Child Health, Development & Education Early Neurodevelopment and Mental HealthApril 2022
Prevalence of breakfast skipping among children and adolescents: a cross-sectional population level study
Interventions to promote breakfast consumption are a popular strategy to address early life inequalities. It is important to understand the epidemiology of children and adolescents who skip breakfast so that interventions and policy can be appropriately considered.Published research Child Health, Development & Education Early Childhood Development NutritionSeptember 2021
Shared Decision Making With Young People at Ultra High Risk of Psychotic Disorder
While the majority of young people who meet the criteria for being considered at increased risk of psychosis do not go on to develop a psychotic disorder, young people are currently being identified and treated in early intervention services.Published research Child Health, Development & Education Youth mental healthAugust 2021
Basic epidemiology of wellbeing among children and adolescents: A cross-sectional population level study
Wellbeing and mental health are fundamental rights of children and adolescents essential for sustainable development. Understanding the epidemiology of child and adolescent wellbeing is essential to informing population health approaches to improving wellbeing and preventing mental illness.Published research Child Health, Development & Education School Attendance Early Neurodevelopment and Mental Health Youth mental healthMay 2021
The education word gap emerges by 18 months: findings from an Australian prospective study
The idea of the '30 million word gap' suggests families from more socioeconomically advantaged backgrounds engage in more verbal interactions with their child than disadvantaged families. Initial findings from the Language in Little Ones (LiLO) study up to 12 months showed no word gap between maternal education groups.Published research Child Health, Development & Education Early Childhood Development Language DevelopmentSeptember 2020
Inside the black box of youth participation and engagement: Development and implementation of an organization-wide strategy for Orygen, a national youth mental health organization in Australia
The involvement of young people in the development, implementation and evaluation of youth mental health services, policy and research programs is essential to ensure they are appropriate and responsive to the needs of young people. Despite the increasingly central role that youth engagement and participation plays internationally, such activities are rarely described in detail.Published research Child Health, Development & Education Youth HealthAugust 2020
Associations between School Readiness and Student Wellbeing: A Six-Year Follow Up Study
It is well established that children’s school readiness is associated with their later academic achievement, but less is known about whether school readiness is also associated with other measures of school success, such as students’ social and emotional wellbeing. While some previous research has shown a link between early social and emotional development and student wellbeing, results are mixed and the strength of these relationships vary depending on whether data is based on child, teachers or parents ratings and which specific student wellbeing outcomes are measured.Published research Child Health, Development & Education Early Childhood Development School AttendanceFebruary 2020
How many words are Australian children hearing in the first year of life?
These results show that a word gap related to maternal education is not apparent up to twelve months of agePublished research Child Health, Development & Education Language Development
Education and Qualifications