Hot topics: USC list of summer holiday experts - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Hot topics: USC list of summer holiday experts

17 Dec 2020

It has been a surreal year that has brought new discussions to the fore. Topics we could never have predicted when the year began – from new microbiological considerations at the family barbecue, to the impact of border closures on the traditional summer road trip.

USC Australia has research experts available to comment to the media (with appropriate notice) on a variety of relevant topics that have become particularly pertinent in 2020, and continue to be relevant over the summer holiday season.

This list includes experts based at USC’s Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast and Moreton Bay campuses:

Dr Rachael Sharman (USC Sunshine Coast)


07 5456 5073 or

The mental health and wellbeing impacts of COVID-19 and strategies for how we can better support ourselves and one another during times of stress and disruption. Christmas with the family, parenting, family dynamics, stress and loneliness.

Professor Helen Stallman (USC Thompson Institute)

Clinical psychology

07 5456 5472 or

Mental health, coping and suicide prevention. Coping with the stressors over the Christmas period including social isolation, family conflict, parenting, the effects of COVID-19 or an uncertain future.

Dr Ipek Kurtboke (USC Sunshine Coast)

Environmental microbiology

07 5430 2819 or

Public health around COVID and during the ‘silly season’. How can improved public understanding of microbiology lead to COVID-safe environments? How can pathogens spread at social functions?

Dr Stefanie Fishel (USC Sunshine Coast)

Politics and international relations

What is happening in the United States with the new administration and is Trump going to leave the White House? What political dynamics are at play right now? What repercussions does this have for Australia and our alliance with the US?

Dr Shannon Brincat (USC Sunshine Coast)

Politics and international relations

07 5430 1193 or

International relations. Current research looks at how we can imagine the future, especially in terms of managing the environment politically.

Dr Shahab Pourfakhimi (USC Fraser Coast)

Tourism, leisure and events management.

07 5456 5690 or

The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism, hospitality, leisure and events industries. Consumer behaviour and tourists’ perceptions, choices and experiences including travel considerations during restrictions.

Dr Vikki Schaffer (USC Sunshine Coast)

Tourism, leisure and events

07 5459 4705 or

Sustainable tourism during peak holiday season. How tourism has been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions including border closures.

Dr Erica Mealy (USC Moreton Bay) (USC Sunshine Coast)

Computer science

07 5459 4484 or

Will we be exchanging wearable technology for Christmas gifts this year? What are the latest gadgets on people’s wish lists? And are our tech-based gadgets spying on us?

Hammad Siddiqi (USC Moreton Bay) (USC Sunshine Coast)

Finance and economics

07 5459 4538 or 

Good financial practice during the Christmas holidays, commonly known as a season of excess.

Dr Sanjeev Srivastava (USC Sunshine Coast)

Geospatial analysis

07 5459 4819

Bushfire occurrence; fire management; identification, prediction and evaluation of fire-prone areas; link between environmental sustainability and hazard reduction.

Dr Amy Clarke (USC Sunshine Coast)


07 5456 5269,0404 838 221 or

“Big things” – the Big Pineapple, the Giant Prawn and other giant attractions that might be included in a holiday road trip.

Dr Javier Leon (USC Sunshine Coast)

Physical geography

Contact: 07 5456 3405 or

Coastal and beach erosion. Cyclones and their impact. The science of surfing.

Dr Ali Black (USC Sunshine Coast)


Contact: 07 5456 5156 or

What kinds of things can I do with my child over the holidays? The importance of holidays and relaxation for young children and teenagers. Why having a break is important and how it supports children’s wellbeing. The value of being outdoors and in nature over the holidays.

Dr Bonnie Holmes (USC Fraser Coast)

Animal ecology

07 5456 5683 or 

Shark activity over the summer period.

Dr Karen Sutherland (USC Sunshine Coast)

Public relations

07 5456 5277 or

How has social media boomed in 2020. What trends have we seen considering physical distancing requirements, quarantine, lockdown and new COVID-safe business practices. Are some people overseas, in America for example, looking at a Zoom Christmas? 

COVID-19 related topics

YouTube recordings of USC’s Research Unmasked series of research panels on topics related to COVID-19 are at

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Terry Walsh Manager, Media and Messaging +61 7 5430 1160
Clare McKay Media Relations Officer (Regional) +61 7 5456 5669

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