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; concussion; acquired brain injury social media use and high-conflict custody disputes.
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 child and adolescent leisure and play opportunities.
Rachael supervises Honours, Masters and PhD students and is the current principal supervisor for projects investigating: Facebook and Tinder use by young adults; high conflict/intractable custody disputes; and interventions to improve parent-child attachment.
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 schools and community groups. Rachael is regularly seen in the media, including newspapers, magazines (eg Time), internet (ABC news,The Conversation), local, national and international radio, and television (eg 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.
Professional Social Media
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|
Potential Research Projects for HDR & Honours Students
- Child and adolescent development
- Biological bases of behaviours
- childhood developmental disorders (eg. metabolic disorders, autism, ADHD)
- child and adolescent health behaviours (obesity, diet and physical activity, self harming, internet engagement)
- Advanced Theory
- Abnormal Psychology
- Intercultural and Indigenous Psychology
- Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) - 400 level
Rachael Sharman's specialist areas of knowledge include developmental psychology, motivation and emotion, abnormal psychology, developmental disorders, neuropsychology, frontal lobe/executive function, inborn errors of metabolism, child and adolescent health behaviours
In the news
How children's minds 'light up' at Christmas21 Dec 2021
While adult Australians ponder the big questions of the 2021 festive season such as how far families can travel and whether rain will ruin gatherings, many young children are firmly focused on one big moment – the overnight visit by Santa Claus.
Research aims to strengthen parent-child bond18 Mar 2019
A clinical psychologist and mother of two young children has developed a free online program as part of her PhD at USC to help parents build happier, healthier bonds with their children.