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Rachael Sharman is a senior lecturer and researcher in the field of psychology, especially child/adolescent development. Rachael's research is focused on the optimal and healthy development of the paediatric brain, and has covered the psychological and cognitive impacts of: rare genetic disorders (phenylketonuria; PKU); dietary intake; physical activity/sports involvement; obesity; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; depression; concussion; acquired brain injury; and childhood trauma.
After graduating from her first undergraduate degree, Rachael worked for over 15 years in a variety of child-related fields including child protection, juvenile justice (forensics), Indigenous affairs, disability, advocacy and genetic research. Rachael personally met with the Queensland Health Minister in 2002 to successfully lobby the government to invest in expanded newborn screening. The result of that meeting ensured that every baby born in Queensland has since been screened via the 'heel prick test' for an additional 30 rare genetic disorders. This has prevented the unnecessary death or disability caused by these disorders if left undetected and untreated.
Rachael’s postgraduate research was cited by the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics in their 2014 Practice Guidelines for the management of PKU (both medical and dietary). Rachael's current focus is more broadly in the area of dietary impacts on neuropsychological development, as well as children's play opportunities.
Rachael supervises Honours, Masters and PhD students and is the current principal supervisor for projects investigating: concussion in junior rugby union players; dietary impacts on child behaviour; child sexual abuse and trafficking; Facebook and Tinder use by young adults.
Rachael is a highly engaging and popular lecturer, who concentrates on cultivating work-relevant skills in her teaching and assessment. Rachael has fostered the development of a robust career focus among undergraduate psychology students at USC by pioneering annual careers-advice seminars, establishing the USC Psychology Industry Liaison group, and maintaining a weekly showcase of psychology-related jobs in the local region.
Rachael frequently represents USC via public speaking engagements at national and international conferences, as well as in local schools and community groups. Rachael is regularly seen in local and national media, including newspapers, magazines (e.g. Time), internet (ABC, The Drum, The Conversation), radio, and television (e.g. ABC and commercial news, SBS Insight and The Project).
- ASIEM — Nutricia Travel Award, 2000, (A$5000); for travel to an International Conference to advance the outcomes for children with inborn errors of metabolism.
Potential research projects for HDR and Honours students
- Child and adolescent development
- Biological bases of behaviours
Research grants (> A$10,000)
|Project name||Investigators||Funding body||Year|
|A shared responsibility for concussion in rugby union? A systems analysis of stakeholders, contributing factors, and current interventions||Dr Rachael Sharman, Professor Paul Salmon, Dr Natassia Goode, Dr Geoff Lovell||School of Social Sciences, USC Collaborative grant, A$10,000||2013|
|Effectiveness of an attention bias modification program in reducing pain-related attentional biases and improving clinical outcomes in patients with persistent pain||Elizabeth Benton, Dr Kate Mulgrew, Dr Rachael Sharman, Dr Melanie White||Sunshine Coast Health Foundation, A$20,000||2012|
|Kickstarting learning: A pre-post evaluation of a physical activity program, ZOVAKick, in primary school children.||Dr Rachael Sharman, Dr Geoff Lovell, Assoc Prof Michael Nagel||USC University Research grant, A$11,162||2011|
|Professional development in nursing: Current awareness, practice and future directions||Professor Mary Katsikitis, Professor Margaret McAllister, Dr Rachael Sharman, Annette Faithfull-Byrne, Rae Priaulx||Sunshine Coast Health Foundation, A$20,271||2010|
|Which biochemical markers best predict learning outcomes in children with Phenylketonuria?||Dr Jim McGill, Rachael Sharman, Dr Karen Sullivan, Professor Ross Young||Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation (10242 Allied Health Research Project grant), A$24,491||2007–2009|