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Our People

The BetterStart Research Group involves a multi-disciplinary group of academics, research students and visiting fellows, located within the School of Public Health, The University of Adelaide.

If you would like to know more about someone in the group, please click on their name to be taken to their Researcher Profile webpage.

Professor John Lynch
Director, BetterStart Child Health and Development Research Group

John is a world renowned epidemiologist and Professor of Public Health. He has an academic appointment in the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol, UK. He spent 20 years working in North America and before returning to Australia in 2009 he held professorial positions at the University of Michigan (USA) and at McGill University in Canada.

John is an internationally recognised scholar in epidemiology and public health. He has numerous awards and Fellowships including a Canada Research Chair in Population Health, an honorary doctorate in Medical Science from the University of Copenhagen, and a prestigious NHMRC Australia Fellowship. He has over 300 journal publications, and every year from 2014 onwards, he has received Thomson Reuters' "Highly Cited Researcher" status that consistently places him in the top 1% of cited scientists internationally in his field.


Dr Catherine Chittleborough
Senior Lecturer

Cathy's research focuses on how we can reduce inequalities in, and improve overall population levels of, child health and development. Cathy has an interest in applying causal epidemiological techniques to these questions and makes use of population data from longitudinal cohorts and data linkage studies. Her research has also focused on whether we can identify children who are likely to have poor development, for better targeting of family support programs, and she has an interest in how children's self-regulation influences later educational and health-related outcomes. She has also been involved in randomised controlled trials, particularly the process evaluation component, of interventions in primary schools to improve hand washing and physical activity among children. As an epidemiologist with SA Health from 1998 to 2008, Cathy's work focused on population health surveillance and chronic disease and risk factor epidemiology. During this time, she completed a PhD which allowed her to pursue her interest in social inequalities in health. After her PhD was awarded in 2009, she spent two years in a postdoctoral research position in the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol. She returned to the University of Adelaide in 2011 and contributes to teaching undergraduate public health and epidemiology.


Dr Murthy Mittinty
Senior Research Fellow

Murthy is an accredited statistician. His interests are both in the development of statistical methodology as well as in the application of statistical methods. Murthy's empirical works has been in child development, infectious disease modelling, biosecurity, dental health and coastal flood modelling.


Dr Rhiannon Pilkington
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Rhiannon is a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Public Health, The University of Adelaide, Australia, as a part of the BetterStart Child Health and Development research group led by Professor John Lynch. She is an epidemiologist with expertise in translational research, epidemiologic research methods, data linkage, and the analysis of large, population datasets. Her work involves collaborating with government child protection, health, and education departments to bridge the gap between research and practice by using administrative data to inform the development, targeting, and evaluation of programs aimed at improving child health and development. Her research is primarily in child protection, with other projects investigating the effect of different forms of early life adversity on long-term outcomes for children in South Australia.


Dr Angela Gialamas
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

In 2015, Angela was awarded her PhD with a thesis that investigated the association between the type, time and quality of child care in the first three years of life, and children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development as they started school.

Her post-doctoral research focuses on the effects of early life disadvantage on children's later development, including analyses of socioeconomic disadvantage, child care, and parenting investments in children. She uses many Australian datasets including the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children and the South Australian Early Childhood Data Project to explore the areas of research listed above.

Ms Alicia Montgomerie
Research Associate

Alicia joined the BetterStart group in July 2016.  She is proficient in conducting complex epidemiological analyses using large datasets and has extensive experience analysing linked administrative data. She has worked extensively with the Better Evidence Better Outcomes Link Data (BEBOLD) platform, one of the most comprehensive population-based linked administrative research databases in Australia. Her research focuses on investigating children that come in contact with the child protection system and trying to identify children early that are at risk of maltreatment, as well as exploring their health, developmental, academic and behavioural outcomes by linking to other administrative datasets.

Dr Janet Grant
Postdoctoral Researcher

Janet joined the BetterStart group in November 2016.   She has worked with population health surveys since 1998 and from 2000 to 2002, assisted with research within the Diabetes Clearing House and the establishment of the Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Recall Register. Janet was the Study Coordinator of the North West Adelaide Health (NWAH) Study from 2002 to 2015, and the South Australian Consumer Experience Surveillance System (SACESS) Coordinator from 2012 to 2016.  She has an undergraduate degree in Library & Information Studies and a Master in Public Health. In 2018, she completed her PhD with The University of Adelaide on the association between parental body shape and adult offspring body shape, including its influence on mortality and self-perception of weight.  For the last two and a half years, she has been working on reviewing published evidence about child maltreatment and family violence.


Dr Dandara Haag
Postdoctoral Researcher

Dandara is a Brazilian researcher who joined the BetterStart group in October 2016. She has a Bachelor in Dentistry and completed her PhD in 2018 at the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health (ARCPOH), The University of Adelaide. Dandara's PhD work evaluated the impact of general and oral health conditions on the quality of life of individuals.  Dandara is working with the BetterStart group on various projects involving epidemiological analysis of de-identified datasets, including child protection and parenting investments.


Dr Catia Malvaso
Postdoctoral Researcher

Catia recently completed her PhD on the link between maltreatment and youth offending in the School of Psychology. She has experience working with linked administrative data, large datasets and longitudinal data. She has managed a number of research projects on vulnerable youth and has worked closely with both government and non-government stakeholders, including consultancy work for the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.


Dr Pedro Ribeiro Santiago
Postdoctoral Researcher

Pedro commenced working with the team in late 2019, after completing his PhD (please see the Students page for more information). He is currently working on a project with Dr Catia Malvaso, as part of Catia's Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) awarded in November 2019, that employs modern epidemiological analysis to examine the different pathways between child maltreatment and youth and adult offending.


Dr Sadia Hossain
Postdoctoral Researcher

Sadia joined the BetterStart Child Health and Development Research Group in April 2020 as a postdoctoral researcher, where she was working on a project examining evidence-based practices and programs aimed at improving outcomes for children and families. She has an undergraduate training in Neuroscience and Physiology, followed by a PhD in Paediatrics comparing the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit outcomes of very preterm babies in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. She achieved a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Epidemiology in 2020. Previously, She worked as a Project Coordinator for the big data project SAFER Hospitals (Safety, Effectiveness of Care and Resource Use among Australian Hospitals) after relocating to Adelaide from NSW in 2017. 

She has a wide range of public health experience gained at the University of Adelaide, University of New South Wales, University of Wollongong, University of Toronto (PhD data analysis) and National University of Singapore (Summer Exchange student). She has a keen interest in improving public health outcomes for children and families, and health care service use for all Australians.


Ms Anna Kalamkarian
Research Associate

Anna commenced working with the team in early 2020, after completing her Hons project on smoking cessation in pregnancy (please see the Students page for more information). She is currently working with Dr Cathy Chittleborough on the 2018 Channel 7 Children's Research Foundation Grant, "Thriving in adversity:  disadvantaged children performing well in school.


Ms Naomi Baum
PhD Candidate/Research Associate

Naomi is a clinical psychologist currently undertaking a PhD with the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University, co-supervised by Dr Rhiannon Pilkington at the University of Adelaide. Naomi’s career has included clinical work in hospitals and in private practice, as well as analytical and service evaluation work in government, university and consultancy settings. She has a passion for prevention, and for combining clinical and administrative data to better inform “what matters, and what works” in health and welfare services. Naomi is looking at various trajectories of children involved with Child Protection.


Ms Jacqueline Aldis
Senior Research Co-ordinator

Jacki has experience in clinical, diagnostic and research with the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and The University of Adelaide. She has co-ordinated clinical trials in the fields of vaccinology, pregnancy and child nutrition, and indigenous oral health. She works with the BetterStart Child Health and Development Research Group by assisting with study co-ordination, and providing research support and management.

Ms Kimberly Klassman
Research Associate

Kimberly joined the BetterStart group in April 2020. She completed her Bachelor of Psychological Science with Honours in 2018. Her thesis involved conducting a meta-analysis on whether omega-3 supplementation reduces externalizing behaviours in young people. Since joining the BetterStart group, Kimberly has been working on a large systematic review of programs focused on family violence, and preventing child maltreatment.

BetterStart Research Group

Level 9, Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences Building
Corner of North Terrace and George Street
Adelaide SA 5000


T: +61 8 8313 2160

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